Arnold's Body Shop in Davenport received recognition last week for leading Iowa's collision repair industry in switching to environmentally friendly water-based paint. On July 29, 2009, Governor Chet Culver honored the company at the State Capitol with the 2008 Governor's Iowa Environmental Excellence Award with the Special Recognition in Air Quality. Arnold's was the first collision repair shop in Iowa to convert its processes away from petroleum-based base coatings, reducing its output of volatile organic compounds (VOC) by 54 percent and hazardous air pollutants (HAP) by 91 percent.

"Ever since our family started this business in 1969, we have continually used the most sophisticated products and systems available to meet or exceed environmental standards," said John Arnold, CEO of Arnold's Body Shop. "Now, with water-based base coatings and improved exhaust systems that exceed EPA standards for 2011, we can repair vehicles so they're like new and safe for families as well as the planet."

Arnold said that the effort to go green involved dramatic changes for the four-person paint team. The team consists of Refinish Manager, Jeremy Gripp, who accepted the Governor's award in July, as well as paint team members Joe Schoenthaler, Aaron Houzenga and apprentice Mitch Matje.

"With an attitude of success, they implemented the new product, trained for it, learned it and made it part of a very efficient, earth-friendly process," said Arnold.

According to Arnold, the water-based paint formulas only recently became suited for midwestern climates, and Arnold's Body Shop is among the first in the region to convert. In addition to spending many hours of labor on the conversion, the company invested approximately $60,000 in new paint formulas and air-handling systems. This enabled huge reductions in VOCs and HAPs, substances that contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone pollution. New fans also reduce energy consumption by curtailing the need to dry vehicle finishes with intense heat.

"Despite the dramatic changes to our process, the customer won't be able to tell the difference," said Arnold. "That's why we're eager to educate anyone with an interest in this advance in refinishing vehicles."

As education chair of the Iowa Collision Repair Association (ICRA), Arnold is volunteering to educate body shops statewide about making the water-based conversion through a series of seminars this fall. The ICRA, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Iowa Waste Reduction Center are sponsoring the seminars.

Arnold's Body Shop has served Davenport, Iowa, and the greater Quad Cities community with comprehensive collision repair since 1969. It became Iowa's first body shop to adopt environmentally friendly water-borne refinishing system in 2008. It is a member of the Automotive Service Association and the Better Business Bureau. See for details.


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