Members of the California Autobody Association (CAA) Glendale/Foothill chapter met Jan. 24 in Pasadena, CA, to network with peers and learn about topical industry issues. The event was sponsored by Annex Automotive and Industrial Finishes, and organized by Cindy Schillito, CAA Southern California representative for the Glendale/Foothill, San Diego and Los Angeles/Orange County chapters.
During the meeting, Andrew Batenhorst, body shop manager at Pacific BMW Collision Center, was named chapter president. The new 2024 board members were also introduced.
In addition to Batenhorst, they include Treasurer Chuck Bistagne, senior advisor to the CAA Glendale/Foothill chapter, past president of the state association and owner of Bistagne Bros Body Shop; Secretary Oz Nieves, regional operations manager at Auto Collision Group; Past President Juan Martinez, CEO of European Coachworks; and board members Doug Holcomb, sales leader at Annex Automotive Paint; Larry Huckman, Annex Automotive Paint director of sales; and Gene Lopez, Seidner's Collision Center's director of development and training.
Martinez, who has held the role of CAA president since 2018, said it was a pleasure to serve the CAA and its members.
"I like that fact that we were first to disseminate industry news and/or trends to our peers," he said. "I can't wait to see how our industry will continue to evolve."
As part of the evening agenda, CAA invited chapter members to share thoughts and ask questions about the SCRS Blend Study Report: A comparative analysis between full refinish and blend operations.
This was a follow-up to the June 2023 chapter meeting, which included a presentation from Aaron Schulenburg, executive director of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS), focused on the SCRS Blend Study.
In addition, attendees at the January meeting had the opportunity to hear representatives from CCC talk about the revisions the company has made to CCC ONE based on MOTOR's revised guidance on blend adjacent panels.
"Having access to the nation's largest information provider for our industry is of major importance to our members," said Batenhorst. "Specifically, CCC was able to provide knowledgeable representatives that understand the challenges we face in our shops."
Batenhorst said the blend study by SCRS was a major success, and making sure shops know how to set up their software to accurately bill for the refinish operations they perform came at the right time.
Another update during the meeting was shared by Roman Castaneda, director of business development for Midway Car Rental, who talked about the L.A. Auto Draft hiring fair, being held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 8 in Torrance, CA. Students and graduates from more than 15 training centers will showcase their work. Registered employers will receive a searchable database of resumes and portfolios. For more information, visit www.autodraft.org.
As president of CAA's Glendale/Foothill chapter, Batenhorst said he looks forward to his new role and getting to know members. Upcoming plans include holding in-person meetings and virtual webinars to help educate members and offer support.
"I love this industry," said Batenhorst. "With the interactions I have across the country attending meetings, including the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) four times a year, I want to bring back the great information that is shared."
Batenhorst wants to hear from those who have attended meetings on what content they would like to see or the struggles they are facing. For those who have never attended meetings, he hopes to learn the barriers that have prevented them from joining.
Batenhorst has worked in the industry for the past 25 years. He started as a detailer at Valencia Auto Spa Car Wash in Valencia, CA, in 1999. After graduating from California State University Northridge (CSUN) in 2006, Batenhorst was hired as a property damage specialist at Progressive Insurance. In 2010, he began working at Pride Collision Center in Van Nuys, CA, as a blueprinter; he was promoted to general manager of the Santa Clarita location five years later, managing the Creekside and Ruether locations.
When he learned about an opportunity to take over a struggling collision center, Batenhorst accepted the challenge and became the body shop manager at Pacific BMW Collision Center in 2018. As an active volunteer, he serves on the SCRS Board of Directors, the CIC Estimating and Parts & Materials committees and CIECA's OEM Repair Procedures Committee.
Batenhorst said CAA has been an essential part of his career development and encourages other body shop representatives to attend meetings and get involved.
"To put it simply, 'You don't know what you don't know,'" he said. "There is a vast amount of information out there for shop owners and operators, and our association helps you obtain what is needed for your success."
He said there's a strong chance someone in the room has experienced the same problems and can help navigate that mountain.
"It's a true sense of belonging, and all the major industry stakeholders are there to support you," he added.
As an industry, Batenhorst said success relies on the ability to collaborate to solve problems for stakeholders legally and ethically.
"This includes knowing our rights as repairers and ultimately being educated on everything that surrounds the idea of producing a safe and proper repair for the consumer," he noted.
He said the networking aspect of CAA allows industry members to access a vast amount of information -- whether they are new to the field or 40+ year veterans -- and to get in touch with supporting sponsors who share the same vision.
"Although most of the collision repair space has changed drastically post-pandemic, there are more opportunities than ever to unite the industry and reinforce the importance of a safe and proper repair," he said. "Under my leadership, with the assistance of our Board of Directors, we aim to bring great content to our members and bring them true value that really helps their businesses."