From President Trump’s meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un to the many tragic shootings and storms that have ravaged the United States in 2018, this year has been one of metamorphosis, altering reality and perception for many individuals.
The same holds true for the collision repair industry and its associations, which have faced a variety of organizational changes and never-ending updates in technology and requirements. As 2018 draws to a close, several association leaders were willing to share some feedback about their associations’ best and most memorable changes this past year.
Changes in leadership were a recurring theme that many associations saw in 2018. The Mississippi Collision Repair Association (MSCRA) received a new executive director, Ricki Garrett. Evangelos “Lucky” Papageorg began serving as executive director for AASP/MA. AASP/NJ’s role of president has been filled by Jerry McNee. Tony Ferraiolo of the Auto Body Association of Connecticut (ABAC) has passed the presidential gavel to Bob Amendola, and Michelle Sullivan assumed the role of chair for the Women’s Industry Network (WIN®).
With new leadership, it’s not surprising to find that many associations have also undergone some internal changes in their approaches to meetings, training material and other initiatives. The Indiana Auto Body Association (IABA) recently changed its meeting format to ensure some consistency in the material discussed by chapters across the state. AASP/MA has also taken a new approach to better reach members across the state.
Papageorg explained, “We have returned to our roots as a collision repair association, re-implementing regional and local chapter meetings to better connect with our membership.”
ASA-MI President Ray Fisher shared, “We changed our meetings this year to include an AMi training session at each location. These are pre-recorded sessions that are available to everyone, and they cover seven major topics, usually specific to the automotive repair business. The sessions that we held were approximately 40 minutes in length, allowing us to cover other business and updates at the same time.
"I enjoyed them because at every session, I saw attendees writing things down, which tells me they learned something they wanted to implement and apply to their business. Complacency kills the business, while humility brings it to life. Our industry is changing so quickly and abundantly that we must keep learning, and it’s great to host professionals that continue to improve and help our members improve as well.”
ASA-CO created a partnership with NAPA BDG and Advance Auto Parts in 2018 in order to “provide a regular manager and leadership training program throughout the year,” ASA-CO Chairman Brad Pellman shared. “We all agreed this was something our front office staff needed and something that has been missing in our industry. These training opportunities are open to everyone, and we welcome the unilateral participation and support from such outstanding associate members of ASA-CO.”
The North Carolina Association of Collision and Autobody Repair (NCACAR) continued making strides to improve the industry in its state.
According to Board Member Elijah Winans, “NCACAR moved the needle in regards to creating a relevant collision association in North Carolina in 2018. More than just being an association, we are now creating a movement focused on our mission statement by continually improving the professionalism and business practices of those engaged in the collision repair industry through education, initiatives and strong leadership, and we started off the year by doing this with the most influential news maker in collision of our time: Todd Tracy.”
Industry associations across the country also experienced many changes related to who organized and contributed to various conferences intended to educate industry professionals. AASP/NJ’s 2018 NORTHEAST® Trade Show included collaborating with the Washington Metropolitan Auto Body Association (WMABA), which organized the show’s Collision Prep education series for the first time. AASP/NJ’s Jerry McNee indicated that the show’s success was one of the most memorable events of 2018 for the association, calling it its “best show yet.”
According to MSCRA’s Ricki Garrett, “I think our most memorable activity of 2018 was taking over the Southern Automotive Repair Conference (SARC) from Steve Plier of Alabama. Steve had begun the conference and provided an excellent automobile repair conference for the southeastern region for many years but was ready to retire from this responsibility. The Mississippi Collision Repair Association had the ability to take this on and try to create an even bigger and better conference for the future.”
The Auto Body Association of Texas also made large strides with its annual conference.
ABAT President Burl Richards shared, “Having our trade show this year was one of the most memorable things because we were able to bring legislators inside the ‘collision arena,’ and it allowed them to see all the specialized equipment needed to repair vehicles properly, along with a lot of the technology that has changed our industry and the way we repair vehicles. It also allowed Texas shops to vet questions and give our concerns to the legislators that are headed into session in a few months, which hopefully will carry weight with our legislative efforts. The unveiling of the crash-tested Honda Fit that was repaired using OEM parts was also a great moment during the show, as we are attempting to define what LKQ parts really are.”
The Independent Garage Owners of North Carolina (IGONC) was proud to improve its trade show in 2018 as well.
“Turning our trade show around from declining attendance over the years and taking it to a level where we are very proud of it was one of the best things we did this year,” IGONC Executive Director Bob Pulverenti said. “Our vendors are happy, and our members and attendees are enthusiastic about attending again.”
IGONC also sees its fundraising efforts as one of the highlights of the year.
“We are very proud of our fundraising efforts to help automotive shops affected by Hurricane Michael. We were able to get fund matches from both Repair Pal and Autoshop Solutions to donate to over 10 impacted shops and create a fund for future emergencies,” Pulverenti noted.
Similarly, McNee noted that in addition to expanding its ongoing training offerings throughout the year, AASP/NJ’s recent donation to the John Theurer Cancer Center was one of the best things the association did in 2018.
Other associations looked to the future with plans for training the future generation of collision repairers. Women in Automotive and Collision (WAC) may be a newer association, but it has already made great strides in its outreach program, visiting local schools to encourage students to pursue an education in automotive and collision repair.
According to WAC Vice President Jess Crump, “Reaching the students in local programs was the most memorable thing we did. Being able to get a few of their stories, talking to them about the industry and their goals, and also getting feedback on how to best reach them is an integral part of making our mission work.”
ASA Northwest established its Independent Technicians Automotive Committee (ITAC), composed of association members who will participate in the ITAC apprenticeship program.
“This apprenticeship program process took many volunteers five years to get this far, mostly because it touches all aspects of our industry as well as our state’s education system,” ASA Northwest Executive Director/President Jeff Lovell explained. “We are excited to announce that the ASA Northwest/ITAC apprenticeship program standards were approved and registered on Oct.18, 2018 with the state of Washington L&I and Washington State Apprenticeship and Training Council (WSATC). We are in the process of finalizing our program documents and procedures with the intention of piloting the program in the next 12 months.”
ASA Northwest Chairman Butch Jobst added, “Getting the ASA Northwest/ITAC apprenticeship program registered with the state of Washington was on the top of my list, and we feel it will transform our industry in many ways.”
The Society of Collision Repair Specialists also had an extremely busy year in 2018 with many training initiatives and endeavors.
SCRS Executive Director Aaron Schulenburg recalled, “Exposing our members to information and people that they wouldn’t have otherwise had access to ranks high on my list for this year. Education and information are foundations of our mission, and I think our board has really embraced a priority of finding and producing meaningful interactions. In February of this year, we released video coverage of attorney Todd Tracy’s 2017 SEMA Show appearances, which drew a ton of attention for the perspective he brought to the table. In April, we got really outside the box, welcoming Chipotle Mexican Grill CFO Jack Hartung for an in-depth conversation on business models that build trust with the consumer, focus on high-quality output, prioritize investment in better quality materials (or ingredients in this case), all while competing with a market of lower-cost competitors. That presentation and the panel that followed it received such great support from the attendees and membership; I really love that we were able to get creative and go down that path.
“In August, as I-CAR announced changes to its training and recognition platforms, SCRS was able to help bring the information direct to our membership through a 90-minute interactive webinar, fueled primarily by audience questions. And I’d be remiss not to make note of the recent OEM Collision Repair Technology Summit and inaugural Ideas Collide Showcase this November at the 2018 SEMA Show. Both featured so many speakers that our industry had never had the ability to interact with before. I’m especially thrilled with the feedback on the IDEAS Collide Showcase: 10 topics, 10 minutes apiece for a rapid-fire presentation that was like drinking from a firehose of information. It’s definitely a format you will see more of from SCRS.”
The collision repair industry saw many positive changes in 2018, and hopefully, this momentum will carry through into 2019 as the industry’s associations continue to grow, provide more training for members and focus on the future in terms of the next generation of technicians, charitable efforts and legislative efforts.
Autobody News looks forward to continuing to provide all the latest association news in 2019. Happy holidays from our family to yours!