AI Trends, Data Collection & More Discussed at April CIC

by Alana Quartuccio

The spring Collision Industry Conference (CIC) left no stone unturned in tackling just about every element of the changes and challenges this industry is facing – and will face for years to come.

Technologies like AI are gaining a stronger voice, while data sharing concerns increase, and paint processes and other repair procedures need better solutions toward efficiency. As Interim Chairman Darrell Amberson put it, industry professionals traveled to Seattle, WA for “the greater good of the industry.” 

Before the back-to-back presentations got underway, “the enthusiastic, driven and energetic” Dan Risley (CCC Intelligent Solutions) was introduced as the new Chair for 2024-2025. Risley’s term will begin with the July meeting in Denver, CO. 

Piggybacking on previous discussions concerning artificial intelligence (AI), Gabriel Morley (DEKRA) reported that the Future Disruptions Committee has been researching AI trends, and instead of continuing the conversation about what AI could do in the future, they decided to focus on what AI can do for the industry now. 

“I know there are a lot of folks who think that AI is going to take jobs away, but the best thing I can tell you is that isn’t going to be true, at least for a while,” shared James Spears (Tractable). “If a company knows how to leverage AI, it’ll be that company that knows how to leverage the tools and do better,” he commented, indicating that AI could make work life easier by taking tasks away from employees but not actually eliminating their jobs. 

“I have a lot of technical guys on my team who may not do a lot of business writing,” Spears explained. “There’s a tool called Grammarly, which we load up for them, so now when they have to write an email to a client or back to a partner, they have tools to help them tighten up their business writing. It will help you write out your email, to make it more concise, persuasive or direct. This helps a lot of people who have not traditionally had to do this writing in their past to present themselves more professionally.” 

Ryan Taylor (Bodyshop Booster) shared ways AI can help shops improve the customer experience. “Think about the beginning of that customer journey when they have an accident. How can we instantly be there for that customer? AI can really fill that void for us. A lot of us are off enjoying the weekend. But that customer is in distress dealing with a stressful situation, and they need help. So, from the first point of contact, AI can be a really good co-pilot.” 

The Parts and Materials Committee sparked a conversation about matte finishes, a growing trend increasing in popularity as more manufacturers have begun to make this luxury option more affordable. “This starts to open it up even more as now people realize it’s more attainable and will select the option,” suggested Aaron Schulenburg (Society of Collision Repair Specialists). “However, that doesn’t necessarily make the process of restoring the finish any easier for the collision repair shops who are responsible for returning that finish upon repair. Shops are more likely to see this in their shops.”

Bradley Letourneau (BASF) suggested that “because there are no standards, and we should expect to see variation, what do we need to do as your finishers to put these back to factory conditions? We need to spend extra time and effort in properly preparing to match the sheen and match the color and above all to do the repair back to OEM specifications.” Ultimately, knowledge is power, and one should have no fear as long as they follow the steps and OEM procedures. 

Kye Yeung (European Motor Works) shared his perspective of having to redo improperly done matte finish vehicles in his shop, recommending steps he uses to minimize the need to redo these jobs. One tool he uses is known as a gloss meter. “It measures things in gloss units from zero to 100. The glossiest is zero, and the 100 is matte. They have three cameras in them at 20, 60 and 85 degrees. When you take a sample of a finish, you’ll see that it can differentiate the amount of loss that the human eye can’t detect.”

The Data Access Privacy and Security Committee set out to answer the industry’s most pressing questions concerning the collection and removal of data appearing on vehicle history reports with a panel discussion featuring Ed Pontis of Experian who shared, “Our biggest source comes from the states. We also get data from local police departments, auctions and some from body shops.” 

Panelists discussed how to manage customers who believe a shop is at fault for accidents showing up on vehicle history reports. “We’re better equipped now [on how] to tell them,” shop owner Scott Benavidez (Mr. B’s Paint and Body Shop; Albuquerque, NM) reported. “We’ve been going through this for a long time figuring out that when we hit one button, it turns into 10 people [having access to data], and then those 10 people can send it to another 10 people, and those 10 send it to another 10 people, so we have no idea where information ends up. That’s tough to explain to a customer.” 

Conversations will continue at the next CIC meeting scheduled for July 10 in Denver, CO. Visit for more information. 

Want more? Check out the June 2024 issue of New England Automotive Report!