Tuesday, 06 January 2015 00:00

Auto Body Craftsmen's Guild Looks to Increase Membership in 2015

Although the Auto Body Craftsmen’s Guild (ABCG) was founded in the early 1960s by a group of concerned shop owners, the association became stagnant over the past five years due to the absence of a dedicated administrator; only the Board of Directors was holding the association together. Matters changed this fall when ABCG enlisted the aid of Eddie Kizenberger Jr. as their Executive Director.

Kizenberger explains, “being that ABCG’s Board of Directors were all full-time shop owners, there wasn’t anyone who was running the association which is, in itself, a full-time job. Once the Guild’s Board of Directors contacted us at LIABRA (the Long Island Auto Body Repairmen’s Association), we met with them and promptly worked out an agreement, thus creating a new ABCG. We’ve now grown to our current size and hope that we will continue to grow as the New Year approaches.”

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Currently, the ABCG consists of over 60 members, and the association’s immediate goals include educating members on the pressing issue that the collision repair industry is facing, instituting programs to increase profitability, and continuing to grow their member base. In addition to enjoying free access to all of ABCG’s meeting and training events, association members are also invited to all of the activities hosted by the more established LIABRA.

ABCG’s focus on providing member training relates to their mission that Kizenberger describes as “Education. Knowledge is power, and we believe that we must take the least educated shop owners and bring them up to a standard that will allow them to run their shop in a profitable and efficient manner.”

Because ABCG serves all five boroughs of New York City, the association’s long-term goal, as they strengthen and rebuild their group, is “to create a unified ‘down state’ group which will be comprised of Long Island the five boroughs.” Kizenberger adds, “having a unified group will strengthen our ability to educate and represent our members in the political and regulatory arenas.”

The association will attempt to attract new members next year. Kizenberger says, “At the beginning of 2015, we will be holding a membership drive where we will be asking our current members to help us spread the word about our growing group. We are also planning to conduct a labor rate survey for the members in our geographical area, and we hope to continue expanding our educational seminar program.”

Providing educational training seminars for members to attend is ABCG’s method of ensuring that the association does what it can to overcome one of the biggest challenges faced in trying to maintain operations, which is keeping members up-to-date on current technology in the collision repair industry. The other challenge Kizenberger identifies is the need to attract new entry-level workers into the industry.

In regards to the challenges facing the collision repair industry as a whole, Kizenberger lists overbearing insurance companies and ever-evolving technology as two areas that impact shop owners and technicians the most. He believes that these collision repair industry professionals can combat these challenges by “keeping pace with new technology so that they are able to properly repair today’s vehicles.”

ABCG’s current legislative activities include their parts procurement bill proposed in collaboration with LIABRA. Kizenberger states, “We believe each shop should have the right to purchase parts where they see fit, and no one should interfere with that. We also have proposed legislation dealing with unfair claims practices and deception referrals.”

Kizenberger believes this legislation, if passed, “will allow the shop to properly repair the car and help them help their customer receive the settlement that they are entitled to. Most importantly, it will allow repairers to return their customers without being tortuously interfered with at the time of the claim.”

Like other industry associations with similar proposed legislation, the biggest challenge ABCG faces is their opponent, the insurance industry, who “has an endless supply of cash flow,” Kizenberger laments.
When questioned about some of the national legislation still pending, Kizenberger states that ABCG supports both the PARTS Act and Right to Repair: “We support the ability of OEM manufacturers to keep their designs proprietary. We also feel that, as part of the repair, OEM technical software data should be available to all repairers.”

Looking forward, Kizenberger states, “We are looking to hold a few different training seminars in 2015. One will be very similar to the GM training that we just held for the Long Island group [with LIABRA], and another that we hope to run is on comprehensive estimating so that these shop owners can see all the places that they are losing money on their estimates.”

ABCG can be reached at 631-941-9647

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