Shop owner solves a problem, creates a new business
By Richard Neubauer
Crashwrap Plastic Weather Barrier Film-a self-adhesive film used to protect damaged vehicles when stored outdoors.
If your own techs won't use the great product you invented, there's something wrong, right? Mark Hall had that problem. The owner of two successful Illinois body shops that repair 2,200 vehicles a year, Hall spent two years perfecting Crash Wrap Film, a self-adhesive film developed specifically to cover broken glass and other openings on damaged vehicles. "My guys were sick and tired of the two years we spent testing plastic films that didn't work. They'd be scraping adhesive off cars and even repainting them when the adhesives on the plastic wraps pulled the paint off. They didn't believe it when we said, 'hey, we finally got it right.' Who can blame them?"What they finally got right was CrashWrap, a self-adhering plastic used to protect damaged vehicles from the elements. While rain, hail and snow are good for business in the collision repair industry, those same elements cause additional interior damage to an unprotected car sitting on the back lot waiting for parts, reassembly - or an adjuster. Protecting the cars with plastic trash bags and duct tape - a standard industry practice for years - is not only ineffective, it also leads to hours of detailing time to remove the tape adhesive from the vehicle.
An even bigger problem is that the duct tape and plastic bags are not an effective barrier to water. "It gets under the plastic along an edge or through a small tear in the flimsy plastic and into the vehicle. Suddenly you're explaining to the adjuster why there's water damage now even though there wasn't any when he first saw the vehicle," said Hall.
Hall discussed his frustration with protecting damaged vehicles with his parts manager, Dennis Doney. As an experienced inventor, Doney decided to solve it. "It turned out to be a stickier problem than I thought, no pun intended," said Doney. The result of two years of trial and error was Haldon Company which has since become the leading supplier of protective plastic films developed specifically for the collision industry.
Ordinary films won't work
"As a general rule," said Hall, "the thicker films that would protect the car adequately had stronger adhesives that pulled the paint off when you removed them. Thinner films have light adhesives that came off cleanly, but the plastic would tear in the wind or crack from heat and cold."
Ordinary plastic films also lack UV protection to prevent sun damage to the film itself and vehicle interior. "If you've got a blown out window and that car sits in bright sun for two weeks, your customer may be asking why the upholstery looks faded," said Doney. "That's because covering a window opening with an ordinary plastic film doesn't offer the UV protection of glass and the interior fabrics aren't made to take that unfiltered sunlight."
Success - and frustration - at NACE
For almost two years, Doney and Hall tested different plastic films with various adhesives before they got it right. They named their product Crash Wrap Film and introduced it at NACE '99 in Atlanta. "People there loved it, and we knew we were on to something," said Doney.
Crash Wrap Film is a 3 mil plastic film with exactly the right type and amount of adhesive to secure it to the vehicle and yet be easily and cleanly removed. The film was left in place on a test vehicle in Chicago for 15 months, through both freezing temperatures and summer heat, and yet was still peelable.
When they went back to NACE they found other vendors who also thought a plastic wrap for vehicles was a great idea and were selling ordinary plastic films for less than Crash Wrap™ cost to make.. "But we looked at what they were offering and said, 'Hold on, these are the same films we rejected because they didn't work right,'" recalled Hall. "Of course, shops were ordering the other films because they were cheaper. We knew they would come to us eventually, but it was still very frustrating." Today, many of those same shops and now insurance companies are ordering Crash Wrap despite its somewhat higher price. "If the cheap stuff worked, why in the world would we have spent the money to develop Crash Wrap," asked Hall.
Shop uses wrap for overspray shield
One user of Crash Wrap, Gamboa's Body and Frame, a three-shop operation in Northern California, uses it not only to protect cars from the elements but as a convenient mask for priming. "We'll use it to cover windows as overspray protection during priming operations," said General Manager Rick Caron. "It's faster then taping paper and it comes off very cleanly."
Caron acknowledged that taping plastic over open or broken windows as they did before Crash Wrap was time-consuming, especially when the tape was removed. "This saves a lot of time - it's a really good product."
Versatile and cost effective
The bright yellow Crash Wrap film comes in 24" and 30" wide rolls. It sticks aggressively, yet is easily repositionable and can be applied to frozen body surfaces. "Shops are finding lots of ways to use it, like replacing the moisture barrier behind door trim and sealing open areas of cars that must be stored outside before they are reassembled," said Doney.You can cover a broken window with about $1.50 worth of Crash Wrap Film," said shop owner Hall, "and it eliminates the detail time to clean up tape adhesive. What's more, you don't risk the cost of repainting the roof on an older vehicle when the duct tape pulls the paint off."Authorized Crash Wrap dealer is ECP PLUS located in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada: (888-327-8463) Fax: (905) 527-2747 website www.ecpplus.com
|ECP Time Equipment
193 Mary Street North
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada