Painters will often experiment with different equipment in search of a better-finished product, while others find what works and use it for their entire careers. In this case, a topnotch painter at a growing shop started using SATA guns nearly two decades ago and he hasn’t deviated one iota since.
Bruce Sorensen, age 37, kicked off his career in the collision repair industry when he was 17- years-old, he said, but it all began several years before.
“My uncle took a few auto tech classes and he was a natural, so I learned a lot from him,” he said. “When I was 15, I got a hold of a 1973 Chevy Nova and I was so excited. I was working at a local body shop part-time, so I was learning from their techs in addition to my uncle. I painted the car dark blue with sapphire metallic flakes. I was hooked the day I saw that car.”
Sorensen works at No. 1 Automotive Body Repair (No. 1 ABR) in Bellingham, WA, a company with one location in the U.S. and four in Canada. To accommodate its increase in work, the shop more than doubled in size from 10,000 sq. ft. to 25,000 sq. ft. The two separate facilities are only 50 yards apart, so it’s easy to move between the old and the new. While many body shops are scrambling for cars to fix, No. 1 ABR is looking to add employees and deal with the deluge of work coming their way.
“Our volume has increased quickly in a short time and we have a lot more work available,” Sorensen said. “It’s a big investment, but when the car count goes up, you have to be prepared to do the work and that involves the right people, training and equipment.”
When it comes to using the right equipment, Sorensen is a passionate advocate of SATA, with a collection of 23 guns—ten of them that get heavy usage. It’s an impressive arsenal and he proudly calls them “members of our crew.” As the only in-house painter, Sorensen has to meet his daily quota, which means he doesn’t have the luxury of slowing down with a jammed gun.
“It all comes down to consistency,” he said. “I’ve been using SATA guns for almost my entire career as a painter and every time I use one it reinforces the feeling that these are the best in the industry.”
Sorensen’s relationship with SATA was love at first sight, but there was a honeymoon period at the beginning, he said.
“When I put one of these guns in my hands for the first time, it was amazing,” Sorensen said. “I didn’t know much then, but after a while I started learning more about how they worked and how I could use them. I embraced all of the nuances with my SATA guns and started improving my painting techniques.”
Today, Sorensen does not have to think about his spray guns, which is the way he prefers it.
“I trust them now because they’ve proven themselves many times over,” he said. “I have a ton of confidence now and the finished product is perfect every time. I don’t have to mess with the settings, so that I can keep rolling along, because I need to paint roughly 30-40 vehicles every week. No quirks, no issues and awesome product support, why would I ever think about using another gun?”
Since he never has any trouble with his SATA guns, he rarely has to contact his jobber or SATA itself for help, but when he does they respond promptly and with accurate information.
“We get a ton of advice and support from Jeff Brooks from Wesco Autobody Supply; Ryan Stronk from Western States Marketing and Ron Fleenor and others from Dan-Am Co who often comes here and introduces some of their new products to us. They are always willing to help us and I can’t say enough positive things about the support we receive across the board.”
We asked Sorensen what are the three top things you want from a spray gun and he responded almost immediately.
“First, it has to be reliable, because I don’t have time to switch out guns in the middle of a job. Secondly, the spraying pattern has to be precise without deviation. And lastly it has to be durable, especially when we are busy here and the clock is running.”
After the expansion, No. 1 ABR in Bellingham is repairing 120 cars monthly as opposed to the 85 vehicles they were fixing previously.
“Very soon, we will have 150- 175 vehicles in here every month,” Sorensen said. “With so many exciting things going on, I know that my SATA guns will never let me down and that the money I invested in these guns is one of the smartest things I’ve done.”
Written by Ed Attanasio. Printed with permission from our friends at Autobody News, June 2019 issue.