Jim D’s goes green

Published 9:10 am Thursday, February 13, 2014

Jim D’s owner Ed Kazlauskas shows off a container of his shop’s new eco-friendly paint. Leader photo/TED YOAKUM

Jim D’s owner Ed Kazlauskas shows off a container of his shop’s new eco-friendly paint. Leader photo/TED YOAKUM

In today’s day and age, a lot of businesses are doing whatever they can to reduce harmful emissions and improve the environment. Even the local body shop is getting in on the movement to go green.

Jim D’s Body Shop, located on M-51, recently converted their entire stock of solvent-based paints to environmentally safe water-based ones from PPG Industries. Both customers and technicians are already seeing the benefits of the new paint system, which is not only safer for employees, but allows for better color reproduction, said owner Ed Kazlauskas.

“We like to go cutting edge with our technology whenever we can,” Kazlauskas said. “Solvent-based paints are old school, while water-based is the way of the future.”

Many car manufacturers have been using the newer paints for last several years, but the rate of adoption by body shops has been a lot slower, Kazlauskas said. Although body shops along the east and west Coasts are required to use environmentally safe paints, no such regulations exist in the Great Lakes region.

Jim D’s had considered making the switch earlier, but Kazlauskas wanted to wait until the kinks with the new paint and equipment systems were worked out until investing in the technology, he said.

Late last year, Finish Master, the paint-supply company that deals with Jim D’s, recommended that the shop finally make the plunge. The owner agreed, sending his to employees out to Detroit to learn how to mix and apply the new paint.

“Nobody likes change, but once they saw the benefits they immediately warmed up to it,” Kazlauskas said.

As part of the transition, Finish Master overhauled the shop’s paint room, installing new mixing equipment, shelving and workstations. While the initial overhead costs were quite substantial, the work was completed in less than a day, Kazlauskas said.

“By the time they finished at 5 p.m., it looked like a completely different room from what we started with,” he said. “It was like watching one of those makeover shows on TV, only instead of taking a whole week it only took them a day.”

In addition to being safer for employees to use, the new paint is also easier to clean and doesn’t produce a strong odor while being mixed together.

“The old room used to smell like paint thinner,” Kazlauskas said. “Our shop’s watch dog used to avoid the room. Now, he goes and sleeps in there whenever he can.”

While most of his customers are unaware of the changeover in paints, Kazlauskas is proud of the fact that his shop is making a positive impact on the environment.

“We’re thinking about things other than just our wallets,” he said. “We think of our customers first, the environment second and ourselves third.”