Since the Babylonians began the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions over 4,000 years ago, people around the world have kicked off each new year by making a promise to improve some aspect of their lives.
The collision repair industry is no different, and associations around the country have begun thinking about what they can do to improve their organizations in 2019. Fortunately, some of these industry leaders were willing to share their 2019 New Year’s resolutions with Autobody News.
Increasing membership, expanding educational offerings and pursuing legislative initiatives were all largely important to associations and the industry in 2018. Collision repair professionals can anticipate seeing these efforts extend into 2019 with renewed vigor. Elijah Winans, board member of the North Carolina Association of Collision and Autobody Repair (NCACAR), would “like to see our membership, attendance and engagement increase in 2019. There are just a few carrying the flag for many here in North Carolina. Our purposes and initiatives are solid, but we will need a greater presence (through numbers) to achieve our well-intentioned goals.”
Jess Crump, vice president of Women in Automotive and Collision (WAC), shared, “I hope to see 2019 bring more new members, familiar faces, students and young technicians, and of course, more events where we can reach people. I also hope we can discuss the possibility of setting up a scholarship program in our future.”
For Bob Pulverenti, executive director of the Independent Garage Owners of North Carolina (IGONC), the goal for 2019 is to “find a way to increase attendance at local chapter meetings. The more people we can get to come out and network with each another and vendors, the better it is for the industry.”
AASP/MA’s New Year’s resolution is “increasing membership with a focus on educating the consumers in Massachusetts as to their rights in the repair process, which is critical to our continued movement towards success,” according to Executive Director Lucky Papageorg.
Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) Executive Director Aaron Schulenburg hopes to bring more value to member businesses in 2019.
The association’s goal, he shared, is “to help our member businesses do more to support the health and quality of life of their employees. We believe small businesses deserve better---better benefits, better healthcare and certainly better costs. 2019 is going to welcome the launch of the SCRS Benefits Marketplace, a group health benefits program exclusively for SCRS members. We are really excited about this program because it has the potential to impact people’s lives in very meaningful ways. We are building solutions to let our members leverage the collective buying power of the association membership to offer more comprehensive benefits while lowering costs. The programs will provide access to more competitively priced, quality healthcare plans from major carriers that allow small businesses to offer best-in-class benefits (including medical, dental, vision, voluntary life, short-term and long-term disability, HSAs and much more). It is something that has resonated exceptionally well with the industry in our pre-rollout surveys.
“Aside from healthcare, we also intend to launch industry-first retirement solutions for employers looking for ways to offer their employees retirement benefits while reducing the administrative burden and mitigating the fiduciary risk and responsibilities.”
ASA-CO hopes to re-engage members to better focus on legislative initiatives.
“We will focus on re-establishing the importance of what ASA does for the automotive community as a whole with an eye on re-engaging our membership to help it grow. It is true that ASA-CO became complacent over the years and seemed to have lost touch with its base, and we aim to change that for the betterment of our industry,” shared Brad Pellman, chair of ASA-CO. “ASA is our voice in Washington that ensures that we may continue to have all the service and repair data available on an ongoing basis. This protects us and our industry nationwide with the right to repair.”
ASA Northwest has similar designs.
“One of ASA Northwest’s New Year’s resolutions is to work on legislation for the Don’t Drip and Drive program through the state of Washington and the Department of Ecology. We have been working on the Don’t Drip and Drive program since 2011 in the Puget Sound region. With the upcoming 2019 year, ASA Northwest is looking forward to helping expand the program statewide,” noted Jeff Lovell, president and executive director of ASA Northwest.
Lovell also hopes to expand the association’s educational offerings in 2019.
“ATE (Automotive Training Expo) was designed by ASA Northwest to educate and train the automotive industry,” he said. “This program has provided our educators (near and far) with exceptional training that they are unable to get elsewhere. Due to the high demand for automotive training, ASA Northwest will be adding an additional training opportunity in Spokane called ATE – EAST, which will be held Oct. 4--5, 2019.”
ASA Northwest Chairman of the Board Butch Jobst added his desire to “fully implement an educational coalition to bring our industry to both our region’s educators and the public in general. The complexity of our industry is mostly unknown by our education system and much of the general population.”
Ricki Garrett, executive director of the Mississippi Collision Repair Association (MSCRA), said, “Our goals for the new year include having more training opportunities for our members and making the SARC Conference the best collision repair conference ever.”
ASA-MI President Ray Fisher sees 2019 as a year when consumer education can and should expand to new heights. He said the association plans on “emphasizing the importance of awareness, communication and education to our internal and external customers. As vehicles with various levels of automation and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) increase in our vehicle population, it is our duty as professionals to inform the consumer and public the procedures necessary to fix these vehicles properly so that their systems once again work properly. Awareness, communication and education are paramount in 2019, and going forward, it must be a part of every estimator, manager and owner’s job description!
“Reimbursement for proper repairs should not be denied, feared or ignored, but rather welcomed. As an industry of professionals, we cannot overlook the procedures necessary to fix the vehicle to pre-loss condition---there are millions of American families counting on us to do our job as an expert! Predictions are that severity will increase, but initial studies of these systems also show that double digit decreases in bodily injury and accident frequency are occurring. We must understand that that is where the savings will take place to offset, not omitting a procedure, which could have catastrophic results.”
Burl Richards, president of the Auto Body Association of Texas (ABAT), provided an inspirational thought for industry unity: “Share, share, share information with everyone in the collision industry, as your successes will help others know that they are not ‘the only ones asking.’”
AASP/NJ President Jerry McNee agreed. “There is strength in numbers, and we all need to come together and educate each other to better our industry,” he said.
With these association leaders leading the charge for 2019, the industry is in for another year of progress and inspiration. Happy New Year!