So it comes as no surprise that Dick Hannah Dealerships, which has its centralized autobody repair facility in Vancouver, Washington, and automotive dealerships/mechanical repair facilities in Portland, Oregon; Vancouver, Washington; and several other nearby cities, was among the first in its area to switch to PPG’s Envirobase® High Performance waterborne basecoat.

“In our area of the country, thinking green is a way of life,” says Rick Stoker, director of Dick Hannah Collision Center. “For us, being responsible stewards of the environment is simply the right thing to do. But we have also built our reputation in the marketplace by listening to customer concerns and doing what we can to make sure their needs are met, and our customers care about the environment, too.”

Since 1989, the Collision Center has been part of Dick Hannah Auto Mall, with approximately 35,000 square feet of dedicated space. Four Garmat downdraft spray booths and seven frame racks provide the workflow, and there are 23 body and paint technicians. The Collision Center operation has been growing at approximately 10% per year. They made the switch to Envirobase HP in July of 2008.

“Our main concern when converting to waterborne was how well the product would work in the wet climate of the Pacific Northwest,” says Stoker. “We wondered if the time required to dry the basecoat would be increased, but we shouldn’t have worried. We are able to dry the paint just as fast, using handheld dryers.”

Productivity has actually increased since the switch to the PPG Envirobase HP system. “We are completing vehicles at a pace that’s 10-15% faster than the previous system,” says Stoker.

To help ensure a smooth transition, Dick Hannah Collision Center tapped into the extensive training resources of PPG. Technicians attended courses at the nearby PPG Business Development Center, and then trainers came on-site during the conversion to work with painters hands-on during their initial product experiences.

“Prior to conversion, we conducted a comprehensive vendor evaluation,” says Stoker, “and determined that PPG is the most technologically advanced company producing high-quality waterborne paint systems in North America.” In keeping with its philosophy of being a leader in its market, Dick Hannah Collision Center wanted to partner with a paint supplier that was similarly in a leadership position.

Converting to a PPG waterborne system was just one of the many ways in which Dick Hannah Dealerships is leading the way toward environmentally responsible business practices. Virtually all collision center processes have been revamped to reduce pollutants and waste. The company reduced its carbon footprint by recycling all plastic paint containers, versus disposing of them in a landfill. Aluminum wheels, radiators, air conditioning condensers, urethane bumpers, headlamps and batteries are all recycled. Metal and cardboard are separated to increase their recyclability. The dealerships with which the collision centers are associated are also dedicated to responsible stewardship of the environment; a tree is planted for every car sold—resulting in the planting of more than 26,000 trees since the program’s inception. The company’s Green Task Force worked with the local public utility company to evaluate power saving opportunities: motion sensor lights, timers and improvements on the HVAC system lowered energy consumption during non-business hours. They even purchased and utilize heaters that run on recovered waste oil from theirown shops to heat the repair facilities.

One might expect such progressive thinking to come from a “young” or new business, but Dick Hannah Dealerships has been around awhile. In fact, the company started with a single car franchise—Studebaker—in 1949. When the wood-floored building that housed the original dealership was torn down to make room for the construction of the I-5 bridge, workers there found wheels so old, they had wooden spokes! Today, Dick Hannah Dealerships includes many leading car brands. The auto dealerships are part of a third generation family-owned business, and combined, they are one of Washington’s largest private employers with 800+ employees. Want to know where the green movement is headed? Look no further than the Dick Hannah Collision Center and Dick Hannah Dealerships. When it comes to the green scene, they’re playing a leading role.

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