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Friday, 31 May 2019 19:30

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

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Louis Baffa – Man of His Time


Every decade seems to have its stand-out collision industry executive. In the 1970s, it was shop owner Louis Baffa who came to prominence as the outspoken president of the ABAA in 1967, 68 and 69. In 1970, Baffa wanted to take drastic measures to change the direction of the industry. According to Baffa, the body shop and car owner had been “under the thumb” of the insurance companies for the last 20 years and felt it is time to take stronger action. Baffa, along with as many vehicle owners and body shop owners as he could muster, planned to march in Washington, D.C., in April 1970 and demand reform. Baffa was receiving backing from the ABAA and the IGOA. A short time later, with the advent of several bills pending, Baffa called off his march.


In February of 1972, collision industry associations, ABAA in particular, took a giant leap forward when Baffa was provided a new position at ABAA as administrative executive. He worked full-time for the ABAA, giving up his role as shop owner and collision equipment distributor, to dive into his new position. This is believed to be the first appointment of its type in the industry.


Looking to the Future


Early in 1972, the IGOA formed a new committee called Trends and Perspectives, designed to identify trends and possible future events, so the IGOA could act, rather than react to events. Ron Weiner of Denver, George “Bud” Merwin of Kansas, and Harry Wright of Georgia all served on the committee.


Some of the challenges faced in 1972 are the same challenges faced today, almost 50 years later; but, it is associations that help push forward the industry.

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