Wednesday, 27 October 2021 14:02

Helping Others is Contagious, and You Don’t Need to Wear a Mask

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Ed Attanasio is now the publicist at Oscar’s Place, a donkey sanctuary in Hopland, CA. Ed Attanasio is now the publicist at Oscar’s Place, a donkey sanctuary in Hopland, CA.


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When I got my first writing assignment from Autobody News in 2006, I was excited.

I was also a little anxious because I knew very little about the collision repair industry at the time. I also don’t know anything about cars, and can’t even change my own oil. So, I’ve been basically faking it for the past 15 years!


At my very first SEMA Show, I met some of my fellow automotive journalists and picked their brains about hot topics to write about and other tips they were willing to share.


One veteran reporter painted a rather unpleasant picture of the state of the industry and all of its issues. He described insurance companies coercing auto body shops into bad---and unprofitable---“partnerships,” and midnight shops sneaking around and doing unsafe and poor-quality repairs performed by shady types not afraid to break local regulations while cutting corners on every repair.


My first impression was wow---this is going to be a lot of fun. That reporter’s account of the industry turned out to be a gross exaggeration.


Yes, there are positives and negatives as in any industry, but in the end, the good things outweigh the bad. I have never seen a midnight shop---because I don’t stay up that late---and most shops must perform quality work to keep the doors open. Plus, unless you’re an investigative journalist, you normally end up writing about the more successful shops and collision-related companies out there.

One thing I noticed right away is many body shops---from large MSOs all the way to mom-and-pops---aren’t afraid to help local nonprofits and people in need in each of their respective communities. Giving cars to deserving people is a perfect charity model for body shops because it involves the shops, their employees, local vendors and the insurance companies that normally provide the vehicles to be given away.


The National Auto Body Council (NABC) Recycled Rides program has turned into a huge nationwide effort, with collision repairers all over the country getting involved. Since its inception in 2007, they have given away more than 2,500 vehicles valued at $36 million, and more than 300-plus auto body shops have been involved.


Many shop owners covet the opportunity to be involved in the program, while others do not.


One shop manager told me, “We are in the business of fixing cars, not giving them away!” But then he attended an NABC Recycled Rides event at a SEMA Show one year and was so moved...

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