Auto Body Association of Texas to Host First Women’s Night of Honor Event

Set for May 22 in Lubbock, TX, the inaugural event aims to celebrate all women in the collision repair industry.

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Jill Tuggle, left, is the executive director of ABAT. Two of the three panelists are Erin Solis, center, vice president of OEM and industry relations, Certified Collision Group, and Raven Hartkopf, right, Collin College professor of collision technology. They will also be joined by Carrie Coppi, estimator at Hub City Body Shop.

The Auto Body Association of Texas (ABAT) will hold its first-ever Women’s Night of Honor on May 22 at Cook’s Garage in Lubbock, TX.

Jill Tuggle, executive director of ABAT, said the association wanted to recognize and honor women in the collision industry to bring them greater acknowledgment and appreciation. Anthony Palomo, an ABAT board member based in Lubbock, originated the idea for the Night of Honor.

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“This will be a special evening to honor all women in the collision repair industry,” said Tuggle. “If you are a woman who works in the auto body industry -- you are invited!”

Tuggle said ABAT’s goal is to sponsor every ticket. If a manager cannot sponsor an employee, they can contact Tuggle at jill@abat.us.

The event will feature a cocktail hour, dinner and a panel discussion.

Tuggle also said it’s important to honor women in collision because women often fulfill their roles uniquely. “Women play a part in every corner of the collision industry and put our heart and soul into our jobs,” said Tuggle. "We often wear many hats as wives, mothers and more, and we handle all our responsibilities with grace and attention to detail.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women comprise 3.6% of the collision industry workforce. Tuggle said this is a first-time event for ABAT because they want to support the contributions of women in collision and support one another.

The panel discussion will feature Erin Solis, vice president of OEM and industry relations at Certified Collision Group; Raven Hartkopf, a Collin College professor of collision technology in McKinney, TX; and Carrie Coppi, estimator at Hub City Body Shop in Lubbock.

Solis will address how women can support each other in their career growth in the industry and how to deal with challenging and uncomfortable situations women face. 

“Women in the automotive industry have come a long way,” Solis said. “I have been working in collision for 27 years, and there were plenty of times that I was the only female in the room. Now, every time I go into a shop, conference or industry event, more and more women are in the room. I was lucky enough to find other women as mentors early on in my career, and without their support and guidance, I'm not sure I would have stuck with it. Recognizing the women who have a passion for what we do in this space ensures that others who have that passion continue to have the support and mentorship to become their very best.”

Hartkopf will provide insights into the demographics of the program at Collin College. She said the college’s ratio of women is very high and will discuss ways to engage and recruit those women into entry-level positions. She will also provide tips on implementing an inclusion/diversity program at shops.

“I think it’s important to recognize women because they represent a large portion of the workforce,” she said. “There is a snowball effect for representation, because when women see others being successful in the industry, they feel more inclined to be a part of it. 

“For anyone who owns a business or shop, consider how gender stereotypes are reinforced in your shop. For example, I worked in a shop that had only a men’s restroom in the shop area," Hartkopf continued. "I had to walk to the office in the front to use the restroom. While it may not seem like a big deal to get the exercise, that shop never positively recognized that women could work in that area. The same applies to uniforms ... Don’t just have a men’s option for a uniform. These microaggressions don’t always get called out, but they should be. Women should be recognized as part of the workforce, and efforts to promote a gender-inclusive environment will help greatly.”

To attend the Women’s Night of Honor, visit abat.us/2024/04/nightofhonor to RSVP for female honorees. ABAT is also offering sponsorships to help support the event.

Leona Scott

Contributing Writer
With extensive experience in the auto care industry and working for nonprofits, Leona D. Scott has dedicated years to crafting compelling content for print... Read More

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