On March 10th, the Auto Body Association of Connecticut (ABAC) held a membership meeting at the Seasons Restaurant in East Haven, CT with nearly 100 attendees. The meeting commenced with ABAC President Bob Amendola expressing gratitude to sponsors and welcoming new association members. “Please consider them when making your decisions to purchase anything that they offer. Remember to support those who support you,” he said.
Attorney John Parese provided a legislative update regarding a recent Rhode Island law entitling consumers to OEM parts during the first four years of the vehicle’s life. Parese explained, “The ABAC sought to do something similar. Unlike Rhode Island’s law, which seemed to give insurers a say in the repair process, we took the same concept, but we made it such that the insurer doesn’t ever have a say in how a vehicle is repaired. I think everyone on the ABAC Board agrees with me here, that there would be no scenario where it would be appropriate for the insurance company ever to tell you (the repairer) what parts to put on a vehicle.
“We created language that made it such that within the first 5 years, a consumer would be entitled to OEM parts, but under no circumstance would a consumer have to put parts on their vehicle if the licensed repairer thought it was unsafe – no matter the age of the vehicle. Recyclers were opposed to this type of legislation and showed up in large numbers to object to the proposed bill. We believe they misunderstood the point of the bill, which was to ensure consumers have their vehicles repaired safely and with fewer aftermarket parts. They understood it as an attack on used OEM parts, which it was not. Either way, the recyclers were able to use scare tactics, which seemed to bring concern to some committee members. It’s unclear what will happen to this bill at this point, [but] we continue to fight for this law as we believe it helps the industry and protects consumers.”
Next, Dan Thibault, Department Head of the Automotive Collision Repair and Refinishing program at Wolcott Tech, thanked the ABAC for their financial support as well as attending events that benefit the school and students. He requested input from members on the school’s curriculum and spoke about the students’ availability, particularly for part-time jobs this upcoming summer.
Amendola expressed appreciation for the school in return. “It’s certainly a worthwhile cause, and it’s where our next generation of collision and mechanical repair staffing will come from. I think that the best thing that’s happening in our industry with all the technology and diagnostics is that it has given the students a higher sense of professionalism and the way that consumers now look at the collision service industry,” he said.
Following dinner, the ABAC welcomed the evening’s featured speakers, Paul Stern and Paul Stern Jr. from LiftNow who began by sharing some information about their company, including their belief that there is power in empowering the customer which is why they are striving to broaden their role as a educational resource.
After a short dinner break, we welcomed our Feature presenter of the evening, Paul Stern and Paul Stern Jr. of Liftnow. “We’re excited to offer the first educational center for the automotive equipment industry. We’re also in the process of experimenting and introducing technology into a historically lagging industry that will soon be available to all Liftnow customers,” Stern noted. “Every year, the number of vehicles equipped with Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) grows exponentially. As a result, it’s increasingly important to understand how to calibrate and reset many of these systems post-collision.”
Exploring the evolution of ADAS over the years, the importance of calibration, and the profitability that shops can enjoy from specializing in new industry trends, Stern covered a variety of topics, including alignment, eras of safety technology, rear cross traffic alerts, ROI, scanning equipment, and more. LiftNow’s presentation concluded with a question-and-answer session.
For more information about ABAC and its future events, visit abaconn.org