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Saturday, 02 August 2008 09:52

BAR Chief Shares Accomplishments with CAA

A warm San Diego evening with the breeze blowing in off the water created a perfect backdrop for the California Autobody Association (AAA) San Diego Chapter meeting. Special guest BAR Chief Sherry Mehl spoke to the group – which was about 100 strong. After a buffet dinner, Mehl took to the podium and spoke about the updates and changes at the BAR before taking questions submitted by the attendees.

She has been BAR Chief for two years and has implemented and instituted many programs. “The two years have gone by so quickly. New things are always happening. I believe that change is good and things can always be made better,” she said.

One program that has been especially effective is dubbed “Education First.” Part of the registration process for new applicants for BAR registration is to meet their BAR field representative and receive orientation about applicable regulations. Explained Mehl, “We don’t want to see anyone get in trouble because they don’t understand the rules. We try to educate before mistakes happen.”

Another program is the Green Station program, conducted in partnership with the Department of Toxic Waste (DTW). The DTW has a program that is lying dormant. Joining up with BAR will bring the program to life.

Part of the Smog Check program is a $4 million public relations campaign to promote healthy air through healthy driving. Mehl pointed out that many people do not make the connection between keeping a car properly maintained and their own health problems.

Maintaining vehicles has a huge positive impact on air quality. The multi-pronged campaign encompasses com- munity outreach events, strategic partnerships and promotions, marketing collateral and a new multi-lingual advertising campaign, which was unveiled in April. is animated and user- friendly to appeal to all ages.

The BAR’s primary website has been completely revamped for easier access to information (

Questions from the audience

Mehl then turned her attention to questions submitted by the attendees. First up was a query about the status of the Progressive Concierge program in California. She reported that Progressive is now complying with California law. No tear downs are being done at the location in San Diego and vehicles are going directly to the designated repair shop. Furthermore, the BAR has been conducting unannounced inspections with no violations noted.

Next Mehl was asked if the BAR was planning a certification or registration program for autobody technicians. She explained that the “registration” program was more like a database than a licensing procedure. “There are so many types of mechanics, licensing per se would be impossible,” she said. However, the ARD license is an entitlement, so there can be consequences–a shop owner could lose his license – if a technician is unscrupulous.”

Conducting a labor rate survey was a topic on everyone’s mind. Mehl previously volunteered that BAR could conduct a labor rate survey. Since no other agency wants to take on this project Mehl agreed that BAR would develop a questionnaire, but would be acting as a neutral party in collecting the data. The BAR has no authority to compel a response, so one might wonder about the validity of the results  and whether it is worth the effort.

An easy question for the Chief was about BAR’s position on various legislation. “We don’t take a position on legislation” was her response.

One attendee submitted three typewritten pages of long, complicated questions which were not really in Mehl’s area of responsibility. She noticed that after a couple of these complex questions the audience was fading and wisely closed the meeting.

 Bringing the evening to a close, a raffle was held with a whole bunch of prizes contributed by attendees.

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