Friday, 31 May 2019 12:30

In Reverse: The 1970s - Trade Associations Become a Driving Force

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Auto body associations had been around since the 1940s.

By the 1970s, like the rest of the industry, the associations were “coming of age.” During the 1970s, auto body associations were working even harder to improve the industry.


An article in the July 1970 issue of a national trade magazine notes the “rebirth” of the industry association. The article said with the revival of associations, shop owners are no longer fearful of each other. Owners have come together to make the industry a better place to work. Back then, trade magazines were full of stories about new state-level associations popping up and joining with the Auto Body Association of America (ABAA) or Independent Garage Owners of America (IGOA), to get the benefits of national representation. Most shop owners came to the realization that there was strength in numbers, especially at a national level.


Auto body associations became larger, better run and more influential within their own ranks, the government and other entities.


Another article in a trade magazine, in August 1971, commented on the transition of IGOA and the future of the industry.


“We are long past the day where we can view IGOA as a local civic club,” said Carl Chambers, the new president of the IGOA. “It is now a quarter-million dollar business enterprise under professional management. There’s no doubt in my mind that the future is ours.”


Uniform Accounting and Dealer Shops


In February 1970, the IGOA adopted a uniform accounting and management system, specifically designed for body shops. The association encouraged all shops to use it. This was timely, since shop profitability began to emerge as a pressing issue. The system was a great idea, but shops wouldn’t embrace proper accounting practices for another ten years.

Also, early in the 1970s, Michigan shop owner and head of the IGOA body shop council, Robert Ramsey proposed all IGOA state affiliates to invite dealer-owned body shops to join their group. Ramsey said this was a good idea, since independents and dealer-owned shops have similar problems and can work together to fix them. Prior to this time, a deep rift existed between dealer-owned shops and independents, so it was a brave move for Ramsey to suggest this idea.

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