Printed in Autobody News
The Mississippi Collision Repair Association (MSCRA) and the Georgia Collision Industry Association (GCIA) recently hired the same new executive director: Josh Kent, Executive Director of the Carolinas Collision Association (CCA) and the Tennessee Collision Repairers Association (TCRA). Kent promised, “I bring passion and drive to my new role, as well as my experience with CCA and TCRA.”
Kent’s professional involvement with the position of executive director began in 2016 with the North Carolina Association of Collision and Automotive Repair (NCACAR), followed by 2018’s South Carolina Association of Collision and Automotive Repair (SCACAR); the two combined to form CCA in January 2020. Kent was hired by TCRA earlier this year and is excited to add the MS and GA associations to his portfolio.
The top of Kent’s agenda for MSCRA and GCIA include establishing the association’s bylaws, updating paperwork and records, evaluating the groups’ websites, and developing a schedule for 2021. “There’s a lot to do in the beginning to construct a solid foundation on which we can build a successful association that will be able to support members,” Kent explained. “I have a lot of ideas, and since I’m not a shop owner attempting to run a business at the same time, it’s much easier for me to step in and help rebuild these associations.”
GCIA has struggled to recover since the tragic passing of former Executive Director Howard Batchelor, since busy shop owners and managers have difficulty finding the time to run an association, and MSCRA’s story is similar. According to Kent, “It means a lot of the current members of GCIA and MSCRA to see the associations continue, and we are all interested in strengthening and re-growing the groups. Shops need continuous education, plus the association provides them an outlet and a voice.”
Once the associations’ structures are strengthened, Kent plans to consistently host meetings and training across both states. “GA and MS are going to see more action and movement,” Kent noted. “While the four associations will continue to operate separately, there’s a lot I can schedule across all four associations. Our focus is on fixing vehicles correctly to ensure the customer has a safe vehicle. Like CCA and TCRA, MSCRA and GCIA will provide training to show shops how to document repairs and protect their shops from liability concerns. Our ultimate goal is to work together on a trade show for the whole southeast region.”
Kent believes that associations collaborating on certain projects will strengthen each group individually as well. “We all can, and should, work together to accomplish some really big things for our industry,” he said. “We need to get on the same page, combine our resources and work together, even as we work individually within our organizations. This industry is getting tougher, and shops needs to come together to share their voice; this industry needs to amplify its voice because it’s not loud enough.”
Although each association’s legal committees will stay separate to accommodate state laws, Kent hopes to combine and grow the groups’ trade school committees, inviting the participation of I-CAR professionals, state officials, shops and instructors. Kent shared, “We have a goal for 2021 – a major project we’re working on that we hope will set the industry’s standard for learning. It involves industry professionals with a lot of knowledge, and everyone is really excited and eager to participate!”
Kent has similar plans for the consumer committee. “We also want to be a resource for consumer education, and the more heads we put together, the more ideas we can generate,” Kent pointed out. “We are collaborating with other associations also, and we’re seeing this spirit of working together all across the country, creating more change and building up to be more powerful. Collision repairers are getting really excited and for good reason!”
“It’s all about relationships because there’s strength in numbers,” Kent continued. “So much can be done with this industry if we all come together and bridge the gaps. It’s okay to have our own ideas and try different things – there are multiple ways to run your business and get paid – but one thing remains consistent: there’s only one way to properly fix a car, and ensuring drivers’ safety is definitely an idea we can all get behind.”
For more information on GCIA, visit gcia.org. For more information on MSCRA, visit mscra.net.