Column by Stefano Liessi

If I had $6.72 for every time I heard “my guy has been doing this for thirty years—this welding certification is a waste of time,” I would be independently wealthy.

There are a lot of managers and owners that have fallen behind on their quality control. To be fair, many don’t know what they don’t know. Saying it this way has a far better tact than ‘ignorance is bliss’.

Now I get it, after someone has spent the last few decades performing career tasks repeatedly, they should be good at it, right? Not necessarily. As with any form of learning, the source from which you begin sets forth the path you will most likely travel. Let me elaborate. I grew up in Port Credit, Ontario, a small area south of Mississauga and just outside of Toronto. Back in the early 80s I started my career in collision repair—during my high school days, just as the wheel was invented.

My introduction to welding was as follows; for full effect, read in Pauly from the Godfather’s accent. “Franco! Show Stefano how to weld ’dat patch with da MIG!”

“Sure thing, Tony! Okay, Stefano, you see ah da tape on dat there knob, you no touch that knob, or else I break your finger. Im’a set ’ya up real nice. See, you put da clamp on here, da striker, and put a squeeze on da trigger ’til ’ya hear the WHOOSH sound—that’s da gas—you hear da bacon, everything’s good.”

And there you have it, welding 101 from Franco. Sadly, this is not embellished. Now, if I had not taken the initiative to better advance myself from that point forward, I could very well still be performing the safety squint when welding. If you look at the demographics that currently make up our industry, do some mental math, you will find that more than one of my session participants likely had a Francotype teach them to weld too.

The modern-day vehicle has advanced dramatically since my session with Franco; it requires an effort on the part of the tech and the shop to upgrade and professionally develop. The level of intricacy and precision these vehicles are built with requires the equal amount of precision in the repair process.

Having said this, we are not welders by trade—we are technicians that utilize the art of welding in our repair process, however, we are not welding daily. We require knowledge regarding the substrates we are faced with, the methods of welding these substrates, and the equipment that is used today. One and done, set it and forget it are long gone in our world. If this is your thought process, you need to rethink your career path, perhaps a flower shop is in your future, or… some training.

So, who is attending the training? Technicians, you know, the ones that Franco taught. If someone has been referring to their education from the School of Franco over the years, you can see how doing something for decades may not make you good at it. Also, managers, estimators, and insurance folk alike should also be attending some of these hands-on development sessions, so they understand what is involved.

Each time I hold a session I find that everyone takes away something new. What amazes me to no end is how few technicians attend and how basically no estimators or insurance people attend. Here is something to think about: if I was to hand everyone who walked into a session the required coupons to complete the ten I-CAR welds for certification with one attempt at each, no one would be certified.

That scenario is no different than welding a vehicle without setting up your welder. As technicians, and administrative personnel in the field, you have a fiduciary duty to keep up with the Joneses on the skill side of things to perform repairs to someone’s vehicle. This involves training, developing, upgrading and practice. If you think Tiger Woods doesn’t practice, think again.

Therefore, we have welder set up time on our sheet—you are putting that on there, right? Regardless of how good you think the tech might be, they need to set up the welder, complete destructive tests, document and verify. The OEMs require you to do this, many outline the specs of these tests. It is NOT included in operations, and it is NOT negotiable. This needs to be done for aluminum, silicon bronze, squeeze type, steel, even rivet bond. This is a line item for each substrate.

I am astounded at what I see in shops. I see pieces of equipment that just hours before were being used to repair a vehicle that are almost unusable. How? I don’t know. Just look at the photos with the article, these are real scenarios. Today’s equipment is fantastic compared to what I used with Franco. Maintain it, it is costly and fragile, and it makes you money. Too many times I have heard techs say, “this welder is crap!” Yes, you are correct the welder is crap—if only said welder new how to use and maintain it. We may not do as much welding as we once did, which makes it even more imperative to keep up your skill set by attending training, practice proper estimating to include welder set up time, complete destructive tests, and practice those welds. You should as a technician try to put in an hour or two a week minimum, refresh yourself on each substrate and applicable machine. If you can, try to educate the administrative positions on the nuances of welding on todays vehicles. In my opinion, and you are entitled to my opinion, a little effort goes a long way. This will make you a better technician, a better shop, better working environment, and safer repairs with a clear conscience.

"Cars in a Professional Collision Repair Workshop with Technicians Expertly Restoring Vehicles to Pre-Collision Glory"

Unraveling the Essentials: A Comprehensive Guide to Efficient Collision Repair Solutions

In the aftermath of a traffic accident, navigating the maze of collision repair can be a daunting ordeal. Yet, the key to swiftly restoring the harmony between life and the road lies in understanding the essentials of efficient collision repair solutions. This comprehensive guide is designed to unravel these essentials, ensuring that your vehicle receives the care it needs to return to its pre-collision glory.

**1. Initial Assessment and Estimation**

The first step in the collision repair process involves a thorough assessment and estimation. Professionals will examine your vehicle to determine the extent of the damage. Utilizing latest technologies, such as 3D scanning and computerized estimating systems, repair shops can provide accurate and detailed estimates, ensuring transparency and fairness in the repair process. Prioritizing shops that offer free, no-obligation estimates can also be a beneficial practice.

**2. Choosing OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) Parts vs. Aftermarket Parts**

A crucial decision in the repair process is the choice between OEM parts and aftermarket parts. OEM parts are produced by the vehicle’s manufacturer and guarantee a perfect fit and optimal performance, maintaining your vehicle’s value and integrity. Meanwhile, aftermarket parts, often less expensive, might not always match the exact specifications of your vehicle, potentially affecting performance and safety. For high-quality repairs, OEM parts are generally recommended, though in some cases, aftermarket parts can serve as a budget-friendly alternative without compromising on safety.

**3. Technological Expertise and Certification**

The complexity of modern vehicles, with their advanced safety systems and computerized components, requires a high level of technological expertise. Choosing a repair shop with certified technicians, who are trained in the latest repair techniques and technologies, is essential. Certifications from organizations like I-CAR (Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair) signal a technician’s skills and knowledge in collision repair, offering reassurance that your vehicle is in capable hands.

**4. Paint Matching and Finishing Techniques**

The final appearance of your vehicle, upon completion of repairs, is predominantly determined by the quality of paint matching and finishing techniques. Advanced color matching technology ensures a seamless blend between the repaired areas and the original paintwork, preserving the aesthetic appeal of your vehicle. A high-quality repair shop will use environmentally friendly, water-based paints, and computerized paint mixing systems to achieve an impeccable finish.

**5. Understanding the Warranty**

Before committing to a repair shop, understanding the warranty offered on the repair work is critical. A reputable shop will stand behind its work with a comprehensive warranty that covers both parts and labor. Ensure you are clear about the warranty’s duration and what it entails. A solid warranty is a testament to the confidence a repair shop has in its workmanship and the quality of the parts used.

**6. Communication and Customer Service**

Excellent communication and customer service are the hallmarks of a reputable collision repair shop. The repair process should be transparent, with regular updates on the progress of your vehicle’s repairs. Professional shops will handle the coordination with insurance companies, alleviating one more concern from your list. Selecting a repair facility that values customer service ensures a more manageable and stress-free repair experience.

In conclusion, efficient collision repair solutions hinge on making informed decisions at each step of the process. From the initial assessment to the final touches, understanding the essentials delineated in this guide empowers you as a vehicle owner, ensuring that your collision repair journey culminates in a seamless and satisfactory outcome. Remember, quality repairs are an investment in your vehicle’s future, safeguarding its performance, safety, and resale value.

Read More »



Read More »



Read More »

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *