Heitzman Body & Paint Continues Legacy of Excellence

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Heitzman Body & Paint, an eighty-year-old Beaverton institution, doesn’t rest on its laurels. Committed to quality, the shop has continued to improve its processes and services while reducing its ecological impact.Heitzman’s President, Lisa Thomson, is also the granddaughter of founder Tom Heitzman. In her 32 years at the company, she has taken the lead on the environmental programs and issues.

“EcoBiz really got our environmental practices rolling,” Lisa said. “They’ve been the guides. And they’ve made it really easy to make the right decisions.”EcoBiz, a voluntary environmental certification sponsored locally by Clean Water Services, first recognized Heitzman Body & Paint in 2009. To become certified, Heitzman installed a new vehicle wash pad, which connected to the sanitary sewer, and demonstrated high environmental standards. Since then, the shop has continued to improve recycling and other best practices while making big strides reducing hazardous waste and toxic exposures.

In 2016, the shop made another big switch, from solvent-based to water-based paints. “It wasn’t a difficult decision,” Lisa said. “The common thought is that it’s difficult to make the switch. It’s not. Or people think that it’s too expensive to switch. It’s not.”Switching to water-based paints has dramatically reduced the shop’s hazardous waste. By eliminating the solvents used in urethane-based paint systems – both in the paint and in the cleanup required – Lisa estimates that her shop now produces about five gallons of paint-based wastes per year. Before the switch, the shop produced over 100 gallons.“Getting rid of those solvents is good for everyone,” Lisa said. “It’s better for the environment, better for the employees that aren’t exposed to VOCs [volatile organic compounds], and now we have fewer fire hazards. There really are no downsides to the switch.”In addition to highlighting EcoBiz, Lisa complemented their paint supplier, National Coatings and Supplies (NCS), for making the transition to new paints so easy. “NCS has been wonderful,” Lisa said. “They helped train our painters, and even had their painters help at our shop during the transition so that we didn’t have any downtime.”

Clean Water Services and the Oregon DEQ renewed Heitzman Body & Paint’s EcoBiz certification for another five years in May 2017. For more information, contact Brittney Wendell, Oregon Manager, Pacific NW Pollution Prevention Resource Center bwendell@pprc.org.