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Wednesday, 24 August 2011 18:57

Florida Auto Collision Alliance Holds First-Ever Statewide Convention and Expo

The Florida Auto Collision Alliance (FACA) held its first-ever statewide convention and industry exposition May 19 to 21 at the Villas of Grand Cypress in Orlando, FL.

Vendors, technicians, managers and owners of repair centers across the state came together to examine best practices, new products,and efficient alternatives to conventional shop-management and supplychain systems.

The Florida Collision Repair Summit was held in conjunction with the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS)’s Improving Workshop Efficiency seminar. The co-sponsored program focused on the implementation of “lean” production practices designed to eliminate wasteful processes in body shop management.

The event drew in approximately 30 attendees in the classes, and 26 vendors set-up on the expo floor for the weekend, according to Cathy Mills, FACA’s executive director.

“The Summit was an excellent opportunity to network with peers, learn new skills, share expertise, and explore emerging products and services in the collision repair industry,” said Mills.

The event began at 8 A.M. Thursday, May 19, with the SCRS seminar, “Improving Workshop Efficiency: Lean Production Applied to Collision Repair.” The class was led by Steve Feltovich, manager of business consulting services for Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes. Steve’s presentation covered the origins of lean production, how to apply lean principles to run a shop more efficiently, and how to maximize production, profitability and customer loyalty. FACA’s statewide vendor exposition also began May 19, running from noon until late in the evening.

Also open to SCRS and FACA attendees in the same facility was a casual evening reception that served as a relaxing meet-and-mingle event for SCRS and FACA attendees.

“The reception held on Thursday evening after the lean class was also a huge success,” said Mills. “It was a great opportunity for us all to rekindle old associations and develop new business relationships.”

The reception took place outside the expo hall on a two-tiered veranda overlooking the golf course and featured a buffet, live music and a beverage bar.

May 20 started with a wide variety of informational seminars. The expo hall remained open all day, allowing for attendees to visit during breaks and dinner.

First up was the Aftermarket Parts Forum, presented by Jack Gillis, executive director of the Certified Automotive Parts Association (CAPA). Jack provided an update on the work being done by CAPA to improve the quality of aftermarket parts and ensure that collision repairers have a quality alternative.

He also revealed the results of CAPA studies showing poor quality and potentially dangerous parts and showed a video on the crash testing behind the new CAPA bumper standard. Frank discussion and an informative question-and-answer session highlighted the presentation. Also participating in the forum were representatives from LKQ and Insignia.

The second morning session on May 20 featured George Hogan, business development manager for DuPont. George gave an inspiring presentation on “Improving Estimating Accuracy and Efficiency.” George emphasized the importance of increasing sales by reducing cycle time through the use of evidence and documentation, by lowering the number and dollar amount of supplements and, ultimately, producing better throughput.

After lunch, Heather Turnbull of The Rubin Group, a highly respected Florida-based lobbying firm, presented methods to build professional rapport with legislators and help influence legislation. Often, she said, legislators are not fully informed about both sides of a given issue, and critical legislation can be swayed simply by presenting another point of view.

Heather discussed recent Florida legislative actions and described in detail the failed commercial-deregulation bill that would have directly affected the collision repair industry.

G.B. Outlaw closed the show with an inspirational and motivational clinic on improving performance to sustain profitable growth. With nearly 30 years of experience in engineering, manufacturing, process improvement, business management, and sales and organizational development, Outlaw described how to help stakeholders develop concrete skills, strategies and solutions to improve team morale and performance.

After dinner, Cathy Mills drew the winner of the “bingo card”—the vendor-stamped card designed to encourage participation in the expo. Joe Bassett from Brumos Motor Cars in Jacksonville was the lucky winner and took home a beautiful flat-screen television.

After a full two days of classes, forums and the vendor exposition, 23 golfers headed out May 21 for a few holes on the beautiful Grand Cypress links. It was a great occasion for the shop owners, managers and Summit sponsors to close out the expo. Afterwards several players enjoyed lunch together in the club house before heading home.

Not only designed to inform and entertain FACA and SCRS members, the Summit was also an opportunity for vendors to show their support and develop their markets. Twenty-six vendors set up shop in the expo hall adjacent to the meeting rooms and offered information, product samples and live demonstrations.

Products and services ranged from businessmanagement and information systems to paint and materials, and from car-rental services to auto parts and shop equipment. The expo remained open all day throughout the event, allowing attendees to browse the vendor displays during breaks and meals.

“I was approached by many of our vendors thanking FACA for a successful convention,” said Mills. “They told me the Summit was well worth the time and commitment and led to a number of new business leads.”

FACA is planning for more events like the Collision Repair Summit, along with more informal educational and informational opportunities in a number of locations around the state.

Visit www.FACAFL.com for more information.

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