beauty machine


Are you fit enough to be a car painter?

Working in a collision repair requires physical fitness. Whether you are painter, a panel beater or a prep guy, your job is manual. Staying fit and healthy is indispensable, and requires three main pillars: right diet, exercise and regular health checks. In the article “A medical examination every car sprayer must take … yesterday” I covered the last pillar, so let me say a few words about the nutrition and exercising.

Before we go into nutrition and exercising, I would like to remind you that unless personal safety taken seriously, car refinishing occupation is considered to be a very high risk for health.

Quit smoking

I know that it is easier said than done, but smoking is a “luxury” a car sprayer simply can not afford from health point of view. Unfortunately, I have seen too many car painters, who spray paint without a mask and with cigarette in the mouth. According to the WHO (World Health Organization) the world’s top five health risks are: high blood pressure, tobacco use, high blood glucose, physical inactivity and obesity. While occupational carcinogens and occupational airborne particulates, which are plenty in automotive repair trade, are among 20 leading global risks for mortality.

In addition, if you consider that occupational carcinogens (like isocyanates) account to 8% reasons of lung cancer (the most frequent form of occupational cancer), and that airborne particulates (like toxic dust from sanding of body fillers and primers) cause about 12% of deaths due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, then smoking is the last drop to kill you. Tobacco use is the second important death risk factor after high blood pressure. It is responsible for 12% of male death!

I don’t want to bomb you with more dreadful statistics about smoking, so, please think twice before you buy your next packet of cigarettes.

We are what we eat.

What comes first to my mind when I think of painter’s diet is a quick sandwich or hamburger washed down with cola or coffee. Sounds familiar to you? Very few bodyshop workers take care of their food at work. Unfortunately many of them suffer from excessive weight, despite the fact that they work physically with their hands, and not sitting behind the computer like the majority of white collars. I am not a doctor or a nutritionist, therefore I really suggest you to read one book by Jonathan Bailor “The calories myth: How to eat more, exercise less, lose weight, and live better life.” This book really changed the way I look at food and health. However, I would like to share with you a few tips, which will help you to eat healthier and feel better:


  1. Do not eat in the bodyshop. Preparation and painting area is full of airborne toxic dust. By exposing your food to the dust you actually consume bodyfiller and primer dust a long with paint overspray. It is not a good sauce, is it? Avoid this chemical soup altogether.
  2. Don’t wait until you are very hungry. This may cause overeating. Plan your workday in such a way that there is time for launch and short snacks.
  3. Drink plenty of water! Coffee doesn’t count. Staying hydrated is crucial for wellbeing and helps to dispose any toxins from the body.
  4. Wash your hands before the meals. I know you are not a child, but this is a friendly reminder.
  5. Chemicals exposure is a part of life in a bodyshop. Therefore, include foods, which help you to cleanse your body from synthetic chemicals (unfortunately these chemicals are everywhere in a bodyshop).

There are well-known foods, which are scientifically proven to detox your body. Below I bring to your attention a few of them:

– Asparagus. It helps to drainage liver, and aides to reduce stress.

– Avocados. This berry (yes, it is a single seed berry) helps to remove synthetic chemicals from your body.

– Carrots. Simple snack and one of the most powerful detoxing vegetables.

– Olives and cold-press olive oil suck up dangerous toxins.

– Green juices. Leafy greens are well-known detoxifiers. Use them in salad or drink as juice or smoothie.

– Vitamin C reach fruits, like lemons and oranges protect your body from the harmful effects of the synthetic chemicals.

– Milk. Milk contains a lot of proteins, which work as buffers, reduce the negative effects of chemicals.

To summarize, eat more vegetables, greens and drink plenty of water!

Do you need exercise?

It is a question many of you may ask? Spending hours and hours working with your hands isn’t enough? All of us understand the benefits of the workouts for our health and well-being, however it is not easy to combine a physically demanding job (like a bodyshop employee has) and working out. I have asked many people I met about their exercise routine (quite a few guys were really in good shape), and I bring to your attention some tips I learnt from them:

Work out before going to work. If you are an early-bird, hit the gym or running path early. People who exercise in the morning get energized and well-tempered.

If the morning workouts are not the option, then pack your gym back and take it with you to work. This will help you avoid getting home later on. Because if you get home, the chances are that you will not leave the coach for anything but food or drink from the fridge.

– Eat well during the day at work. Hunger and tiredness are not good mix for the gym.

Choose the workout, which you like. If you are not a gym rat, don’t go to the gym. Find other ways to stay fit. Any physical activity is good, and it must be fun, otherwise it won’t last long.

– Jogging or walking are the best options for you. Low intensity exercise on the fresh air is ideal for bodyshop employees, who spend many hours in closed and polluted space of the workshop. Even a half an hour stroll will have multiple benefits for your health and fitness level. If you have a dog, use it as an opportunity to go out more.

– If your family or professional obligations do not leave much space for the workouts, try HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training. HIIT is a training technique comprised of short intervals of very high intensity.

– Go to sauna. Sauna provides scientifically proven way to remove dangerous from the human’s largest organ – skin.

– Whether you are a prep guy or a painter, your everyday job requires a great deal of repetitive tasks, which may cause strains and pain in your back or arms. If this is the case, seeks advice from your physician which exercises could help to strengthen your body and prevent chronic problems.


To sum up, I would like to emphasize that for a bodyshop professional his health is the most precious “asset”. Without good physical form, you will not be able to continue with your job. Take it seriously and invest in your health!


Why smaller independent suppliers and producers are absolutely needed for the car repair business.

I am the owner of a relatively small automotive refinishing materials brand. Etalon is not alone. The number of similar companies is increasing, and I am delighted about it. Nowadays, when few big “sharks” try to buy one another, the very existence of companies like Etalon is even more relevant and important.

We do need competition

Unfortunately, without honest, fierce competition this, and any other industry, will not prosper. Public corporations lack human face. Prove me if I am wrong. The owners are investment banks, hedge funds or any other so-called institutional investors. THEY DO NOT GIVE A DAMN ABOUT THE PAINTERS’ NEEDS! What they only care is the current shares price and dividends paid. This is why there has been very little TRULY innovative products, which TRULY solve customers needs. Please share with me, if you believe that I missed something. On the other hands, the management of those companies fly first class, drive expensive company cars and get five and six digit pay cheques.

Does big mean safe?

There is a false opinion that working with “big” names is safe. It is absolutely not true. During my fifteen years career in the car refinishing industry I have seen an international paint producer virtually abandoning the whole continent, leaving its customers with empty mixing machines. I have experienced the results an acquisition of one of the big non-paint consumables producer by a huge multi billion company with a result of the lost customers loyalty, supply disruptions and the best people leaving the brand.

Also, I can bring you the example of the leading equipment manufacturer to raise prices without any particular reason by more than 20% with the ridiculous excuse of “brand repositioning”, but without changing the products itself. You may tell me that small companies can make mistakes too. True. However, the smaller players are more down-to-earth, and the owners of these companies (yes, they have real owners) would think it over before upsetting their customers.

About a year ago I posted on Linkedin the article “Do my company have the right to exist?”. I was really happy to hear that people from our trade share my vision. The main point of this short blog post is to ask you, my dear readers, to give a chance to companies like Etalon. Try us! Be strict, but be bias-free! Our industry needs to escape the hungry teeth of the consolidation. Small can be innovative, small can be efficient, small is an advantage, not vice versa. Governments have anti monopoly rules, but oligopoly is hardly any better. Oligopoly is a market system, which we probably will have very soon if the pace of consolidations will continue at current speed. Two or three paint producers will supply two or three bodyshop groups, paid by a few insurance companies. Is it going to be good for the customers? I have my doubts. And what do you think?


The most underused social media platform is…

In the past posts I have been covering extensively the marketing tools a smart bodyshop owner or paint supplies trader should use. Email marketing, professional magazines ads, old school direct mailing, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, you name it. However, I would like to draw your attention to another social platform, which is very popular among young people, celebrities and just anyone who likes photos and visual content – Instagram.


Instragram has been founded in 2010, and, within 7 years, it has grown up to be the third largest social media platform after Facebook (which actually owns Instagram after 1 billion dollar acquisition in 2012) and video sharing platform – YouTube. Currently Instagram boasts over 800 mln active users, surpassing Twitter, Pinterest and Linkedin altogether. This is a huge audience with a tremendous advertising potential.

Instagram as marketing tool for the collision repair business

There is a false impression that Instagram is a platform for selfie addicts or fashion and luxury brands. Well, Instagram is their platform too. However, due to the Instagram’s unique appeal for the visual content (photos and videos sharing), Instagram provides an opportunity for automotive collision repair professionals to promote their business. If you have a product or service, which can be photographed, you should use Instagram. For examples, one of the best forms of posts on Instagram for a bodyshop would be “Before and After” concept. What you need to do is to take a picture of a damaged vehicle prior repair, and then a picture of the vehicle ready to be delivered to a customer. Simple as that. In addition, with Instagram it is much easier to create a quality content without many words, only with your smart phone. Remember the saying «A picture is worth a thousand words»?  It is about Instragram.

As I mentioned above, in your Instagram feed you can show the results of customers’ vehicles repairs, equipment in your shop, details of the repair process. Create your shop’s or brand’s hash tag, and incorporate it across all the social media platforms. Remember, a good marketing strategy shouldn’t rely on one instrument only, but rather on multiple channels, and Instagram better be one of them. With its help you can generate leads, get customers emails, increase traffic to your website and create a good digital word of mouth.


Why automotive coatings market is actually a niche?

Recently I have seen a few respected market surveys dedicated to the global automotive refinishing market outlook for the coming decade. The key figure in those market researches was a forecasted turnover of … hold your breath, of more than 10 billion USD, from slightly above 6 billion now. While I was desperately trying to calculate what would be the market share (with minimum decimal after zero possible) I would be delighted to achieve with Etalon brand, I suddenly was stricken how small actually our core business market is a niche! Let me bring up to you some numbers. For example, global coatings market is 110 billion USD with predictions for 145 billion USD in 2020, global soft drinks market creates 867 billion USD in sales, while coffee consumption generates 32 billion USD every year in the US market alone. Do you feel the difference?

If you conduct a little search online concerning the niche markets characteristics, you will find a few widely accepted characteristics of a niche. Amongst others like, business-to-business nature of the business, high level of entrance costs, and the need in highly skilled human resources, you will probably stumble upon a parameter of major importance – profitability. A niche market can not boast of revenues of the mass markets, and, for this reason, sustainability within the niche can be only achieved by the high and stable profitability and margins.

Are you profitable enough?

If you visited the last Automechanika fair in Frankfurt last September, you probably had noticed that there were a few “new” brands. Fresh blood is good, however many of our esteemed colleagues actually lacked a clear argumentation why somebody should trust them, putting the lower price aside. I can bet the most of the conversations were around the question “How much do you pay for this or that product?” “We can give you cheaper price.” I know for fact that there are some players in the refinish supplies market who settle upon 10% gross profit simply to grab some share of sales. The fact is that margins in automotive refinishing industry took Acapulco height dive. However, what about fixed costs, management and marketing expenses, new products development costs? Can you cover all the expenses and still have money left for the further development and growth?


It is not a secret that the level of the cost in the collision repair industry has been driven down by the constant pressure from the insurance companies. Insurers know well about finances, margins and costs management. They are organized, with bargaining power and influence. Up to the present time, they have done a “great” job in decreasing the average repair bill down, and, unfortunately, this tendency affects all the chain with service providers and their suppliers suffering the most. Although big four or five global paint manufacturers have managed to keep their profits on a good level, for the smaller players staying profitable is a challenge. The only solution, in my judgment, is in innovation and after-sales service. Re-sellers and smaller manufacturers need to find the way to be relevant and useful to their customers. Simply delivering the goods is not enough any longer for survival. The combination of product and expert consultancy services is the only viable way to increase the profitability. Do not sell the product, sell the support behind it and charge the premium. And, even if it sounds a bit strange, find your niche in the niche.

What is your opinion?

The best polishing compound for a bodyshop is… 12 steps guide to find one for yourself.

Probably when you think of car refinishing job, paint polishing is not the first thing to come up in your mind. Nevertheless, it is an important process for any collision repair specialist. Firstly, when a minor paint defect occurs, in 9  cases out of 10, you will need a compound and a polisher to fix the problem. Secondly, a full car detailing could and should be an additional service offered to a customer who walked through your shop’s door.

Consumption of a polishing compound varies from one shop to another. Usually the excessive use of a compound means two things: too many paint defects revealed during the inspection process or/and incorrect polishing process. I have seen an operator pouring a quarter of a bottle to polish a fender. Also, in certain markets with poor working conditions without a proper spraying equipment, painters have to wet-sand all the repaired surfaces to remove orange peel and numerous dust nibs. It comes with no surprise that in these cases polishing compounds’ and glazes’ consumption is sky-high. What I would like to share with you in this article though is a short guide how to pick up the right polish for you. This is not the advertisement for Etalon polishing system, and my tips come from my own experience and the extensive knowledge of my colleagues and employees.


  1. Examine the surface to be polished. Before you decide which compound to use (yes, it’s good to have a few compounds to choose from), you need to understand the condition of paint or clearcoat you will work on. In a bodyshop usually we use compound to remove paint defects, meaning that paint is fresh. Is is crucial to know if the clear was properly baked in accordance with the manufacturers technical data sheet. If you choose too aggressive compound on still soft clear, big chances are that you will end up with excessive haze and swirls. It has nothing to do with the quality of the compound, but with the clearcoat’s chemistry instead.


  1. Check what polishing pads do you have available. The quality of paint rectification depends on many factors, like the polish machine, compound used, pads the compound is applied with and, an operator’s skills,indeed. So, if you do not have a quality wool pad handy, then you may need to go for more aggressive polishing compound. While if you have only rotary polisher in your tool box (read the article about polishing machines here), then a choice of medium cut compound would be a reasonable choice for safe polishing.


  1. Check what abrasives you have at your disposal. Nowadays one can find in a body and paint supply shop a great assortment of micro abrasive products. It is not necessary any more to remove orange peel, for example, with a polishing compound only. If you choose a film based abrasive disc P1500 first, then rectify the surface with P2000 or P2500, the entire process will take 3 times faster than a compound only process.


  1. Assess the ambiance and surface temperature. In case you have high temperatures in your workshop, choose a liquid polishing compound (not a paste) with oily consistency. There are polishing compounds in the market which turn to dust within first minute of use. This occurs due the high solvent content in them. These solvents evaporate very quickly when temperatures are high. You will have to add more and more compound to keep working and face an unpleasant dust spreading around.


  1. Avoid compounds, which require added water. You can still find the products in the market, which require adding certain quantity of water before and during the work. It will create a lot of splashes and unnecessary cleaning afterwards.


  1. Avoid difficult to clean compounds. I have seen otherwise good products, which are very difficult to wipe off especially from rubber and plastic parts. Such polishes will either require meticulous masking job prior polishing or long time spent on cleaning the residues. No, thanks.


  1. Choose a polishing compound with the best cut/gloss ratio. The times when cutting compound was leaving almost mat surface are gone for good. As a matter of fact, you can find fairly cutting compounds which leave lustrous surface with a very high gloss level. Certain brands market such products as one-step. However, you should remember that on the dark colors you may still need a finish glaze with anti-hologram properties.


  1. Avoid polishing compounds with silicone. Check that a bottle has a “silicone free” or “bodyshop safe” tag on it. No need to explain why.


  1. Avoid polishing compounds with waxes or sealants. It is very popular amongst car detailers to use so called “two-in-one” polishes, which combine abrasive and waxing properties. In a bodyshop, however, the clearcoat, albeit properly dried, still “breathe” with solvents. We don’t want to seal the pores of the paint, while solvent is still making its way out. Generally it is advised not to apply any waxes or sealants within two weeks from the paint job to avoid dieback of the clear coat.


  1. Prefer a polishing system with only a few polishing products available. Some brands offer just one-product system, but from real life experience it is obvious that there is still no perfect single compound for all jobs. Likewise, do not be misled by systems with far too many products.


  1. Avoid compounds with fillers inside. In car care and cosmetics market you may see a great variety of the polishes with filling properties. Such a product doesn’t remove scratches, but rather mask them for a limited period of time (usually until the next proper wash). The last thing a professional car sprayer needs is the angry customer coming to the shop and spotting the places where a paint defect was. A real pro will remove the paint defect, not mask it.


  1. Do not choose the polishing system just because it’s cheap. The cost of polishing materials in the overall bodyshop repair bill is negligible, but the spent on compound might be too long to afford.


Bonus tip. If you want to compare to compounds, do it exactly under the same conditions; for instance, split a bonnet half by half and do your test with the same polisher, same pressure, time and pad type. Do not mix two compounds on one pad in order to avoid misleading results.





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