Broken Arrow Auto Shop Using 'Green' Paint

Wednesday, April 22nd 2009, 5:19 pm
By: News On 6

By Jeffrey Smith, The News On 6

BROKEN ARROW, OK -- Employees at a Broken Arrow body shop say no matter what color they paint your car, it will always stay green.

Premier Collision is the only auto shop in the area to switch to water-based paint. Only a handful of shops in the state use the new technology.

It's an Earth Day decision that benefits drivers and professional painters.

At Premier Collision's paint shop, it's what's on the outside that counts. Four full-time painters make over about 150 cars every month.

Starting this week, the auto shop is using water-based auto-paint, abandoning solvent paints that have been used for generations.     

"There's a lot better quality, better color match," painter Keith Gariepy said. "We get the jobs done faster."

Gariepy says the cars look better, and the waterborne paint is better for the environment.

The manufacturer, PPG, says it reduces chemical emissions by 80 percent. The store's owner says it's better for the ozone.

"I'm an outdoorsman myself, and it's real important for us to have our kids and grandkids enjoy the same things that we have," owner Ralph Higinbotham said.

The professionals who paint cars for a living say that with this job, there are a lot of nasty fumes and smells that go along with it. But with this new water-based paint, they say it's not only better for the environment, but better for their health as well.

"With the solvent-based paint, if you're not wearing a respirator, man, it's going to hurt you," Gariepy said. "But with this water-based paint, man, you get it on you and you can wash it off. It doesn't feel like it's damaging you when you breathe it in."

One of the drawbacks -- it's 20 percent more expensive than traditional paints. But because it dries faster, the owner says the auto shop will see more business, even in a down economy.

Higinbotham says California mandates using waterborne paint and more than half of all car manufacturers use it when a vehicle is built on the line.