Friday, 23 April 2010 08:55

Houston Auto Body Association Joins Existing Texas Associations

Written by David M. Brown

A trio of auto association groups is now serving the Lone Star State: San Antonio-based Texas Independent Auto Association; Austin’s Automotive Parts & Services Association; and, as of 2009, the Houston Auto Body Association, which became an affiliate of the national Society of Collision Repair Specialists in February.

Established in 2009 to serve the greater Houston area, HABA comprises approximately 35 owners and managers of collision centers (Active Members), businesses associated with the collision industry (Associate Members) and like-minded associations that abide by the group’s code of ethics (Group Affiliate Members).

The group was formed to put the collision industry in Houston on a straighter course. “Many of us felt we weren’t getting fair and reasonable compensation for our work,” says the group’s president, James Brown, owner of Rapid Body Works in Houston. He notes that different areas and insurers were using unique procedures, creating confusion and misinterpretation.
Brown explains that Andy Holder, owner of Metropolitan Collision, also in Houston, began contacting body shops the first part of 2009, and by that September HABA became a registered nonprofit association. Holder is now vice president of the group.

“Together, we could strategize and agree on standards and procedures to improve business for all of us, so that consumers could be ensured their vehicles were being restored to their safe pre-loss condition,” says Brown, whose nine-year-old company is ICAR Platinum and ASE certified.

HABA’s membership requirements include proof of liability insurance and technical certification for technicians, the use of a computerized estimating system, a lifetime warranty against defects and an approved spray booth meeting current federal and local requirements.

Brown says that the organization is dedicated to setting just and equitable standards and providing a forum for working out differences between shops and shops and insurers. HABA is establishing itself as a consumer advocacy agency in providing both information and a presence at the Texas Legislature to protect the public’s rights, as well as those in the collision industry.

“One of our members has already had meetings with the Texas Insurance Commissioner and presented questions as well as signed petitions to add to the Consumer Bill of Rights,” Brown reports.

Assisting Brown and Holder as board of directors officers are Phillip Hahn, Treasurer (Mossy Nissan Collision Center); Jennifer Barbee, Secretary (Metropolitan Collision); and Ronnie Brush, Chairman of the board (Westside Lexus Collision Center).
SCRS is welcoming of HABA, which adds to its portfolio of 38 affiliate associations comprising 6,000 collision repair businesses and 58,500 specialized professionals in the United States.

“It is always exciting for SCRS to partner with new, emerging industry leaders,” says Aaron Schulenburg, executive director of SCRS.

“The HABA has exhibited tremendous drive and determination in the formation of their association, and their commitment to the implementation of recognized and practiced repair standards is laudable.”

The oldest organization of the Texas three is the Texas Automotive Parts & Services Association, founded Oct. 11, 1932, as the Automotive Wholesalers of Texas. As a trade association designed to serve the automotive aftermarket industry, APSA serves a 10-state membership of 800 members representing approximately 2,000 locations. Besides Texas, representative states are Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming.

The members own or represent auto parts and paint stores, machine shops, engine rebuilders and service repair shops, both mechanical and collision. In the last few years, through a series of mergers, APSA has grown from a single state association to a regional association which, because of the increase in the number of members, has enabled APSA to provide quality programs and benefits, says the organization’s president, Jim Quinten.

For instance, the group offers its members an insurance package through the member-owned AP&S Insurance Agency. Still, the most important work APSA does is legislative advocacy—lobbying in the various states and in Washington, Quinten explains. He is assisted by the APSA vice president, Melanie Norman, and a 25-member board of directors representing all 10 states.

“The members own the association, and it only exists for their benefit,” he says. “The APSA staff works for the members and are dedicated to that effort.”

Formed in 1980, TIAA comprises mechanical and body shops throughout Texas. The organization began with chapters in Odessa, Waco, Austin, Houston, San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley, but membership grew to approximately 850 members statewide. Between 30–40 collision shops now belong.

“Our members are mostly family-owned and -operated independent business that put the focus on customer service on a personal level,” says Gary Pundt, TIAA president and owner of Alamo Heights Garage in San Antonio.

Joining him on the board are Hank Amor, vice president and owner of Oak Hill Automotive in Austin; David Bippert Secretary, owner of Lone Star Radiator in San Antonio; and Roy Baird, Treasurer, owner, Car Pro of San Antonio. In May, the group will choose new officers at its annual meting, Pundt explains.

“We formed so that our members would have more control over the state and local chapters and be able to monitor the Legislature and act on our own behalf at the state level and not get lost in the national association shuffle,” he explains.
The group actively monitors legislation affecting the mechanical and the collision industry: “We have members in Austin that will at a moment’s notice rally support to testify at the state capitol on behalf of our membership.”

He adds: “We’re also a great platform for our members to network across the state and be able to stay in touch and discuss industry issues that come up.” He notes that these include “insurance-steering problems and the repair process that the insurance companies force upon the collision shops.”

Education is also an important TIAA component. Members serve on various education boards, offering feedback on new training programs and guidance for future technicians. The group also fund raises for scholarships to give financial aid to those deserving and in need.

For the last for years, TIAA members have also donated services and parts to repair vehicles at no charge for residents of battered women’s shelters in Austin and San Antonio. Says Pundt: “This is a public service that we are proud to do, and we feel it is a great way to give back to our local communities.”

James Brown, President, HABA
www.habaonline.org   (832)-515-9609

Jim Quinten, APSA
8000 Centre Park Drive, Suite 150
Austin, Texas 78754
Phone: 512-339-0044
Fax:     512-339-4477

Gary Pundt, State President
T.I.A.A.   210-445-7625

Last modified on Thursday, 08 December 2016 15:39