Starting with the inauguration of the 45th President, moving on to the solar eclipse and three devastating hurricanes, 2017 has been a year to remember with many major changes impacting the United States.
The collision repair industry has continued to change as well, with evolving technology and raging legal battles, including the renowned John Eagle lawsuit in Texas. Associations around the country offered a variety of educational opportunities through meetings and conferences, and as the New Year crept up on us, Autobody News spoke with several association leaders about the best and most memorable things they did in 2017.
From getting associations off the ground to establishing a broader member base, several associations focused on growth this year.
Stephen Regan, Executive Director of ASA-MA/RI, shared, “The most memorable thing ASA-MA/RI has done in 2017 is open its doors. We have brought back to the region an entity dedicated solely to the advancement of collision and mechanical repair shops and those who serve them. Unlike many state trade associations in the industry, ASA-MA/RI has a fully staffed, dedicated office location. Our sole purpose is the professional operation of the association on behalf of its members and supporters.”
Brian Davies, President of the North Carolina Association of Collision and Autobody Repair, stated, “2017 was our first full year of existence. It is a broad statement, but we made ourselves relevant to the collision industry in North Carolina and made a significant impact by bringing the collision industry closer together, learning how to work together, and helping each other improve while improving the industry in North Carolina. Another big one was being accepted as an affiliate member to the SCRS. With their support, we all feel more confident knowing we have others all over the U.S. that have our back. In addition, having the support of the largest paint manufacturer, PPG, has been invaluable, and without them, we would not be where we are now.”
The Women’s Industry Network (WIN®) has surpassed its goals, but continues to focus on growth.
“After a very successful and exciting 2017, it is challenging to focus on just one thing… besides encouraging, developing and cultivating opportunities to attract women to collision repair, the WIN Board of Directors considered how we might move our organization to the next level of impacting women,” noted Petra Schroeder, WIN’s Chair. “We reflected on our industry-at-large and surveyed our board leaders, our members and our sponsors to assess their satisfaction with their WIN affiliation. This was followed by a board retreat to reflect on our current position and to dream about WIN’s contributions to our industry in the future. Finally, we charted the course to get there through our 2018--2020 strategy plan. It sets out a bold and ambitious vision for the members of WIN and all women in the collision repair industry. It will also provide direction for the ongoing growth and sustainability of our organization in a rapidly changing industry.
“In our first strategic plan (2008--2011), we envisioned a 500-member-strong national network, recognized as a key contributor to our industry’s success. We surpassed the 500-member mark in 2016. In addition to ensuring that we continue to provide value for our growing network of members, the new plan looks beyond our membership to identify ways that WIN can have a greater impact on industry diversity and sustainability.”
Education, for both repairers and consumers, was also a major area of concern for many associations.
According to Auto Body Association of Connecticut (ABAC) President Tony Ferraiolo, “I think the best thing our association did in 2017 was bring educational meetings to our members. We also took a stand on photo estimates, informing consumers and shops that, in our state, the customer has the right to have their vehicles physically inspected in person by a licensed appraiser if they choose to [do so].”
Ray Fisher, President of ASA-MI, shared, “There were many things that were quite memorable in 2017, but the one that I think stands out for the collision repair industry here in Michigan is the session that we created from scratch, titled ‘The Relationship between Structural Repair and Vehicle Calibration.’ The reason that it stands out was because it came about from a conversation at the PF3 Paint Supply Open House and [came to] fruition within a few months. The training was intense, and it combined collision and mechanical technology and teachings, creating awareness for not only what is ahead, but also what is on the road currently. I am proud that ASA represents the professionals within the automotive independent collision repair industry, and I think it is important to keep that attribute at the forefront as we move into the future.