Collision Industry Foundation

In Memory of Gene L. Hamilton: Arrangements

Gene L. Hamilton
June 17, 1946 – October 22, 2017

Gene Lee Hamilton, age 71, of Duluth, passed away on Oct 22, 2017. Gene was born on June 17, 1946 in Indianola, Iowa. He graduated in 1965 from George Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He moved his family to Atlanta in 1969.

There, he started his career in the automobile industry; first in sales then later opened Sports and Imports Inc. a used car and wholesale vehicle business until the late 80’s. Shortly thereafter he founded his first collision repair facility, Sports and Imports Collision which is to this day, Industry renowned. Throughout his time in the collision repair industry, Gene led the charge in shaping the face of collision repair. He also served in many leadership positions, Boards and Committees. Gene didn’t just enjoy working in his business but thrived upon it. With all his involvements and activities, his most cherished time was spent with his daughters, grandchildren and friends both new and old.

Giving back was no stranger to Gene as he was actively involved and participated in several charities. Including, but not exclusive to; the Jerry Lewis Telethon and the Ronald McDonald House which is an on-going benefactor through his family’s support.

Preceded in death by his father, Kenneth Hamilton and granddaughter Morgan M. Popejoy. Survivors include his mother, Norma Hamilton, daughters Michelle Coombs and Jeanette Hamilton, sons in law Bobby Coombs and Andrew Langmaid, grandsons Joshua Harvey and Jacob Coombs, and great grandchildren Taylor Harvey and Riley Popejoy.

A Memorial Service, followed by a Celebration of Life will be held Thursday, October 26, 2017 at 12:00 PM. at Ashton Gardens located at 260 Peachtree Industrial Blvd. Sugar Hill, GA 30518

In lieu of flowers, please consider memorial gifts to either Alzheimer’s Association at or The Atlanta Ronald McDonald House at

Gene Hamilton, co-founder of the GCIA, Died Sunday

Gene Hamilton, co-founder of the Georgia Collision Industry Association and past chairman of both the Society of Collision Repair Specialists and I-CAR, died Sunday, 22 October 2017.

“He was a hugely successful shop owner and got involved in trying to better the industry on behalf of everyone who toiled in it,” Collision Industry Conference organizer and SCRS co-founder Jeff Hendler said Monday.

Hamilton owned Sports & Imports Collision in Georgia and became active in the collision repair industry in the 1990s. By 1998, he had made enough of an impact to be inducted into the Hall of Eagles, the industry’s “hall of fame.” By 2000, he had been elected chairman of SCRS, after already having won the industry’s “Green Shop Award” and “Industry Achievement Award” — the latter for urging manufacturers and vendors to donate money they had been earmarking for industry parties to auto body repair nonprofits.

In 2003, Hamilton was named chairman of I-CAR. He also was a board member of the I-CAR Education Foundation and Gold Class Steering Committee. In 2015, SCRS honored Hamilton with the Lifetime Honorary Membership award — one of only four ever bestowed by the more than 30-year-old organization. Sports & Imports general manager Michelle Coombs, speaking on behalf of her father, said then that he would probably tell the audience that the industry has given him more than he’s given it.

“Gene Hamilton is one of the most respected and recognized people in the collision repair industry today,” the GCIA wrote in 2013. “This is not only because of his many accomplishments, awards, and business successes; but also because in 1997 Gene helped start the Georgia Collision Industry Association that has helped local, regional and national repairers as well. From the beginning of his career he has held a passion for our industry. For Gene, it has never been enough to turn out high quality repairs in his facilities. He has always believed that anything he can do to improve the reputation and respect of the collision repair industry at large would not only make his business model sustainable but would assist his many friends, peers, and yes, even competitors provide safer and more reliable repairs for the consumer. In the end, it has always been about ensuring that friends and families can feel confident that their vehicle was repaired to pre-accident condition and by a true collision repair professional. Gene knows that collision professionals working together is the only way to make improvements in and to better our industry.”

Farmers Insurance® Supports Mission of Collision Repair Education Foundation™

Donation of Salvage Vehicles Provides Valuable Training and Funding to Prepare Future Generation of Collision Repair Specialists

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. and HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill., Sept. 15, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Beginning this fall, Farmers Insurance® will start the process of donating 30 salvage vehicles to the Collision Repair Education Foundation™ for use at vocational technical training centers across the country. The vehicles will serve as a learning resource for the future generation of collision repair specialists.

Farmers® will deliver the first of the salvage vehicles to respective Collision Repair Education Foundation approved training centers in time for the fall semester. Once the donated vehicles are repaired and sold, the proceeds will be donated by Farmers to the foundation, who will use the funds to purchase essential training supplies for the training centers.

“Our work with the Collision Repair Education Foundation gives Farmers the opportunity to help support repair collision education and the careers of future repair specialists,” said Gerry Poirier, national auto physical damage strategy manager for Farmers Insurance. “The donated vehicles will serve as a valuable resource for students to learn skills required for careers in the auto collision industry.

The training centers are selected by submitting an application to the Collision Repair Education Foundation, which supports collision repair educational programs, schools and students to create qualified, entry-level employees and connect them with an array of career opportunities in the collision industry.

The first training center to receive a vehicle will be the Lake Career and Technical Center in Camdenton, Missouri.

“We look forward to delivering each and every salvage vehicle to training centers across the country,” said Melissa Marscin, director of grant programs at the Collision Repair Education Foundation. “We are thankful to be collaborating with Farmers Insurance to continue our mission of delivering vehicles to the centers throughout the 2016 school year.”

About Farmers Insurance
“Farmers Insurance®” and “Farmers®” are tradenames for a group of affiliated insurers providing insurance for automobiles, homes and small businesses and a wide range of other insurance and financial services and products. Farmers Insurance is proud to serve more than 10 million households with over 19 million individual policies, across all 50 states, through the efforts of more than 48,000 exclusive and independent agents and approximately 21,000 employees. Farmers Insurance Exchange, the largest of the three primary insurance insurers that make up Farmers Insurance, is recognized as one of the largest U.S. companies on the 2016 Fortune 500 list.

For more information about Farmers Insurance, visit, Twitter and Instagram, @WeAreFarmers, or

About the Collision Repair Education Foundation
The Collision Repair Education Foundation, founded in 1991, is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to securing donations that support philanthropic and collision repair education activities that promote and enhance career opportunities in the industry. For information on how to donate to programs supported by the Education Foundation, visit us online:

Collision Repair Education Foundation Launches School Designation Program

From CollisionWeek

The Collision Repair Education Foundation has created a new designation program called the “Collision School Career Readiness Benchmark”. Under the new program developed by the Foundation, schools will be classified into three tiers:

  • Tier 1: Advanced,
  • Tier 2: Proficient, or
  • Tier 3: Developing.

The designation will be determined by the Foundation based upon information provided by schools about the capabilities of their program on the Collision Repair Education Makeover grant application, which is currently accepting applications.

Collision Repair Education FoundationThe criteria for each level will focus around the number of hours of instruction, curriculum in place, along with what tools, equipment, and supplies a school uses to prepare their students for employment in the collision industry.

If there is something that a school needs to advance to the next level, the Education Foundation’s grant application will allow a school to request that particular item. The goal is to help every school acquire the resources to eventually achieve a Tier 1: Advanced school designation.

School designations will be announced in July 2016, and the Makeover grant recipients will be announced in November 2016.

Clark Plucinski, Collision Repair Education Foundation Executive Director said, “In June 2015, the Foundation Board of Trustees made the decision to adjust the Foundation’s mission to focus not only on grants and donations, but also on bridging the employment gap. The new focus will be on getting the right grants/donations into each school to better prepare the students for entering the collision industry.  This new designation program ties into the new focus and will better determine what items each school is in need of that will be ultimately benefit the students.”

Maxwell High School Holds Open House during April CIC Meeting in Atlanta

From CollisionWeek

The Collision Repair Education Foundation will be hosting an open house event at Maxwell High School of Technology in Lawrenceville, Ga. on Wednesday April 8th, from 9-10:30 a.m. in recognition of the 2013 Makeover school grant that was provided by the I-CAR Atlanta Volunteer Committee.

This event will be taking place in conjunction with the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) meetings being held at the Crowne Plaza Ravinia that week. Hertz Corp will be providing transportation for CIC attendees to and from the hotel and the school so that industry members can see how the grant has transformed Maxwell’s collision program. Industry guests will be transported back to the Crowne Plaza in time for the CIC meetings that begin that afternoon.

Atlanta I-CAR Chairman Gerry Poirier and Farmers Insurance National APD Manager said, “The Atlanta I CAR Committee is made up from all aspects of the collision industry. The ability to accomplish our successful fundraising is due to the dedication of each and every member. This dedication has resulted in our ability to give back to this great industry by providing the 2013 Makeover grant to Maxwell High School of Technology, scholarships for collision school students along with materials and tools. This will help replenish our dwindling shortage of people coming into the collision repair field. I encourage all industry members to come out and see what can be done to promote the collision industry starting in our local schools.”

Maxwell High School of Technology Principal Dr. Jeff Hall noted, “I-CAR and the Education Foundation continue to be one of Maxwell’s biggest supporters. They continually provide tools and equipment that enhances our industry-certified program in teaching students how to perform automotive vehicle body repair and refinishing skills. As you know, these skills lead to excellent jobs as an estimator, body repair technician, refinishing technician, or employment in a shop office or insurance claims office. Our instructor’s aptitude and desire to produce quality student work, in and out of the classroom, can only be enhanced with the industry’s support of our program. With the industry’s continued support and the hard work of our instructors, Mr. Butch Luther and Mr. Sam Melaragno, I believe our program is in the top cadre of Auto Collision programs nationwide. We sincerely thank I-CAR and the Education Foundation for its belief in a strong education program for our students.”

Maxwell High School also recently received its second annual contribution from the Georgia Collision Industry Association.

Collision repair industry members are asked to RSVP by March 27th for the open house by emailing Brandon Eckenrode at

Congratulations Maxwell High School of Technology

From CollisionWeek

Rust-Oleum Donation Helps Transform 5 Collision Repair Schools

Rust-Oleum has continued their annual support of helping to ensure that high school and post-secondary collision school programs have a professional appearance by ‘adopting’ five schools in 2014 and donating epoxy floor coating through the Collision Repair Education Foundation. The collision schools programs, who are all Education Foundation Ultimate Collision Education Makeover grant applicants, agree to prep the floors and apply the donated product. As many collision school programs have not had their floors worked since the program opened and instructors don’t have the excess budgetary funds to afford this type of project, the donated floor coating is greatly welcomed and gives the students a new sense of pride in their learning environment.

The collision school programs that received the donated epoxy floor coating from Rust-Oleum in 2014 include:

  • Contra Costa Community College (San Pablo, Calif.)
  • Maxwell High School of Technology (Lawrenceville, Ga.)
  • Regional Career Tech Center (Ypsilanti, Mich.)
  • Tennessee Technology Center at Livingston (Livingston, Tenn.)
  • Thomas Edison Career and Technical High School (Jamaica, N.Y.)

Steve Gillmann, Rust-Oleum Vice President Human Resources and Administration, noted, “Through our Rust-Oleum Cares initiative we are happy to support educational organizations that lack the funding required to provide students with top notch facilities. Allowing students to work in a facility that looks professional, orderly and clean creates a better environment for learning. It also demonstrates a personal respect for the students as individuals.”

Collision Repair Education Foundation Director of Development Brandon Eckenrode said, “If the industry is serious about attracting new students, that starts in the collision school programs and together we can assist these instructors and students by helping to provide them with a professional learning environment. Through Rust-Oleum’s continued generosity, we have been able to assist a collision school program every other month and when viewing the before and after pictures, the schools are almost unrecognizable with how well they look. I invite the industry to take this program nationwide with us by adopting a local collision school program and help in their efforts to ensure the collision program looks professional.”

Education Foundation Received $25,000 from LKQ; Announces New Board Member

Education Foundation Received $25,000 from LKQ; Announces New Board Member

From CollisionWeek News

LKQ Corporation has renewed its $25,000 contribution to the Collision Repair Education Foundation, displaying its commitment to the future of the collision industry. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of dollars in parts that LKQ has donated to collision school programs this year, the monetary contribution assists Education Foundation’s ability to offer collision school tool/equipment and student scholarships.

Collision Repair Education Foundation Executive Director Clark Plucinski noted, “Now more than ever do collision school programs need the industry’s support in order to graduate qualified and properly trained students. LKQ’s renewed contribution allows the Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) to work with the collision school programs on ensuring this takes place. Through parts donations, monetary donations, and having representation on our Board of Trustees, LKQ’s has displayed their strong commitment to assisting the future professionals of the collision industry. On behalf of the schools, students, and instructors that will benefit from this support, we thank LKQ for their continued support.”

“A shortage of technicians, along with a shortage of funding for the technical schools, continues to be a major challenge for our industry. LKQ is proud to support CREF and is delighted to give back to the technical schools and students in our industry,” said Terry Fortner Vice President of Industry Relations and Market Development.

Bridges Joins Board of Trustees
Scott Bridges, Vice President of Sales Replacement Accounts for the The Hertz Corporation, has joined the Foundation Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees consists of industry members who provide guidance in the organization’s efforts to support secondary and post-secondary collision students nationwide.

Fortner noted, “I would like to thank Scott for joining our Board of Trustees. Hertz understands the importance and need for qualified collision students to enter this industry and Scott will be a valuable addition to our Board of Trustees as we work towards taking this organization to the next level.”

“I’m delighted to be elected to the Collision Repair Education Foundation Board of Trustees to represent Hertz,” said Bridges. “The Foundation does great work to help both the students and schools in the collision industry to ensure a robust group of qualified technicians enter the industry each year.”

Bridges has more than 23 years of experience working in car rental and serving the insurance replacement industry.

Collision Repair Education Foundation Receives Highest Rating from Charity Navigator

From CollisionWeek

The Collision Repair Education Foundation has been awarded the highest ratingcoll-ind-foundation-logo for sound fiscal management and commitment to accountability and transparency by Charity Navigator, the country’s largest and most-utilized independent evaluator of charities. Charity Navigator has awarded the Collision Repair Education Foundation an “exceptional” ranking of four stars out of a possible four, demonstrating adherence to good governance and fiscal responsibility.

Since 2009, the collision industry has provided over $20 million in product and monetary donations to high school and post-secondary collision school programs, instructors, and students through the Education Foundation. With the organization averaging 90 cents of every dollar donated being returned to this group; its supporters can be assured that their donations are being reinvested properly.

Collision Repair Education Foundation Director of Development Brandon Eckenrode noted, “We are proud of this recognition as it displays the organization’s financial responsibility and hard work towards supporting the technical education of the future professionals of the industry. To be listed on Charity Navigator with a select group of other noteworthy organizations, this will display to both current and prospective donors that our organization is one of the best in the country.”

Charity Navigator provides essential information that gives donors greater confidence in charitable choices they support. Receiving four stars indicates the Education Foundation is respected by its peers and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust.

Collision Industry Foundation Raises $32,000

From CollisionWeek ©2014

On January, 16, the Collision Industry Foundation (CIF) held its 4th Annual Gala Fundraiser in Palm Springs Calif. The foundation hosted a cocktail party at the Lulu California Bistro.

Approximately 100 people from the industry attended the event and were able to participate in a raffle and silent auction featuring many donated items including high-end electronics and an Indy Race Car Package.

The gala was the foundation’s most successful event yet, raising an unprecedented $32,000.

The major focus of the foundation’s support has been the Collision Industry Relief Fund. The fund helps collision repair professionals who have lost their livelihoods from a natural disaster or other catastrophe.

Cheryl Boswell, CIF’s Treasurer said that, “We could not have done this without the help of those who donated silent auction items and sponsored the event. We are excited about the momentum we are building and being able to help more collision professionals in the future.”