The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) announced its New Products Showcase Awards on the eve of its 2012 show to recognize the world’s most cutting-edge automotive products in the collision industry today. With more than 2,000 new products submitted for consideration, only a handful received accolades and the trophies that accompany them. It’s the Oscar, the Emmy and the Lombardi Trophy of collision combined and surely one of the most coveted awards out there, because it comes with the SEMA stamp of approval and all of the benefits associated with it.
First place in the Collision Repair & Refinish Product division went to the Matrix Wand 3-D Blueprinting and Discovery System, manufactured by Matrix Electronic Measuring, Inc., a company that was founded in 2003 and is located in Salina, KS. Judged on its superiority of innovation, technical achievement, quality and workmanship, consumer appeal and marketability, the Matrix Wand was launched in April 2012 and received positive reviews almost immediately. This handheld, electronic measuring system accurately and precisely measures collision damage so that a body shop can repair a vehicle back to factory specifications.
Consisting of the wand, cameras, computer, and software, the Matrix Wand collects measurements and data utilizing stereoscopic photo documentation and archives all of the information electronically for retrieval and subsequent analysis. Three feet long and weighing about 12 pounds, the device is extremely precise and easy to operate. By passing it over the vehicle like a magician’s imaging wand, technicians can complete the entire process in 15 minutes or less.
Jan Srack is the co-founder and president of Matrix Electronic Measuring Inc. and a 25-year veteran of the collision industry. She’s obviously pleased about winning the award and has great plans for the product’s potentially bright future. “We’ve got the Matrix Wand currently in body shops from Hawaii to Connecticut and soon it will be available internationally. This is an exciting time for us because the industry has embraced the Wand and without that, we wouldn’t be where we are right now. The fact is that so many people have supported and assisted us in our success. Without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today and I sincerely mean that. It takes so many levels within this industry to make a product successful. ”
SEMA’s award kicked off a great show for the company and Srack hopes to ride that momentum into 2013, she said. “To share our victory with our team was really wonderful. We always knew there was a need for effective electronic measuring in this industry, and the Wand provides it. We’ve been developing this product since 2008, so it hasn’t happened overnight. We introduced it to the collision industry in April 2012 after much work, because we wanted to make sure it was dynamic and market ready before we made it available to body shops. We got the call from SEMA at 10 p.m. on Monday, October 29 to tell us that we had won, so it was a thrill. There were a lot of great products in consideration, so it means even more to us to be recognized.”
The Matrix Wand’s journey from conception to completion took a total of 4.5 years, but it has paid off with the SEMA award and burgeoning sales. “There was a lot of work involved in developing it and testing it,” Srack said. “We received approval recently on our three patents, which is huge, so this award was even more meaningful to us and our distributors nationwide. SEMA is a great organization, so being a part of that is significant. This industry is full of amazing companies and people, so it definitely means a lot.”
What are some of the main reasons for the Matrix Wand’s success and acceptance within the industry? “The documentation in 3-D is instrumental,” Srack explained. “It’s a win-win-win all the way around, because from the body shop owner to the estimator to the technician and onto the customer and the insurance company, this product benefits all of them and makes their lives easier. The Matrix Wand decreases the friction between the shops and the insurers, and takes the drama out of the blueprinting and measuring process, because it provides accurate information that every party involved can rely on. That’s an ideal situation and how often does it really happen in any industry, let alone collision repair?”
Costing approximately $31,000 each—but with an affordable lease option, the complete Matrix Wand system is a substantial investment for any shop, but by paying for itself within a reasonable period of time, it makes sense for any size operation, Srack said. “Our customers are justifying the cost after just six months, in most cases. How often can you buy a piece of equipment and say that you’ll recoup all your money within half a year? One of the advantages of innovative technology, even in a poor economy, is that people will still invest in cutting-edge technology.”
How is the Matrix Wand different than laser measuring systems out there on the market? “Most lasers are twodimensional, but our imaging is threedimensional and you have access tothe information much easier, within 15 minutes or less with the Matrix Wand. Without our product, it takes 1.5 hours on average to do the job, and you’re still guessing because you don’t have three dimensions to refer to. By discovering the structural damage upfront, body shops can quantify it and triage the car throughout the shop, meaning that cycle times are greatly improved. For the first time, the insurance companies have 3-D validation of the damage on their customers’ vehicles. This is not a CAD drawing or an overlay; this is really the actual customer’s vehicle. Mobility is another benefit of using this product, because it’s a handheld device and you don’t have to worry about the car being level. With the complexity of these cars today, the Matrix Wand is more essential than ever.”
SEMA’s Vice-President of Events and Communications Peter MacGillivray discussed the importance of the award and how it impacts the industry worldwide. “The number one reason why people go to the show is for new products. These product awards are judged by industry peers and that’s why they mean so much to the winners. We always announce them before the show begins, so that the winners can enjoy the benefits of this very special achievement.”
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