Autobody News

Associations Look Back on 2014

Autobody News

Thursday, 18 December 2014 00:00


From record snowfalls in the southern U.S. to a missing Malaysian airplane to the fear of an Ebola outbreak, 2014 was a memorable, if somewhat frightening, year around the world. In the American collision repair industry, 2014 was riddled with lawsuits against insurers’ unfair business practices and other battles for the rights of collision repair professionals, but industry associations still managed to provide some positive experiences for their members throughout the year. As the New Year rolls around, Autobody News asked a handful of association leaders about the most memorable things their associations did in 2014.

Dan Risley, Executive Director of ASA-National, states that “without a doubt, the most memorable thing in 2014 was NACE|CARS in Detroit. We made significant changes to the show including but not limited to the location, dates and show management company. We had no idea what to expect or how the industry would respond because the show had steadily declined for several years. What made it memorable was the overwhelming support and positive response from the industry. We are humbled, thankful and appreciative for all of those individuals and companies that helped make it a success.”
“I think one of the most memorable moments of 2014 for me was at the conclusion of the OEM Collision Repair Technology Summit that we launched during the SEMA Show,” recalls Aaron Schulenburg, Executive Director of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS). “This was a first year event that we spent the entire year working to develop content for. I love that our trade association produces events that can make our members feel inspired and empowered, and it is one of the very specific reasons that SCRS and SEMA partnered on our work together over 5 years ago. We saw opportunity for an industry that had everything to gain from good ideas being delivered in an environment that fostered creativity and business development. I never fail to be in awe of that ‘electricity’ that fills the halls and classrooms of the Show, and this particular day of focused discussion was memorable because it brought people together to focus on an issue that is important to all.”
Schulenburg continues, “this session generated some remarkable responses from the attendees, as we took a good hard look at the defining responsibilities of collision repair businesses, automakers and equipment manufacturers as the room focused on a common issue relative to repairability of new technology found in the structural design of the modern vehicle. The topics from this new forum have spawned a whole new level of engagement from an industry hungry for more information. It has shone a light on areas that SCRS can help to encourage and promote relevant and much-needed industry discussion, and where we can provide insight into areas of curiosity. The work from this session has already fueled potential programs and offerings that we will launch during the year and that will inspire programs next year. What makes it memorable isn’t the event; it is watching the ideas flow in the post-event conversations and to see what was just a spark of imagination in our planning session turn into such a valuable resource that inspires so many others. For those that joined us this year, I hope it was equally as memorable for you. For those who couldn’t, I really hope you can next year!”
In 2014, the National Auto Body Council (NABC) assisted in facilitating the donation of over 300 vehicles that were restored by members of the collision repair industry and donated to families and military heroes in need of reliable transportation. “In speaking for the NABC, I’m proud to say that our organization, made up of dedicated members of our inter-industry, changed the lives of the recipients of those vehicles, forever, through the NABC’s Recycled Rides initiative,” states NABC President, Nick Notte. “ This activity was in direct support of the NABC’s vision, which states that ‘Automotive Collision Repairers are Admired Professionals’.  It absolutely supports the NABC’s mission to ‘Develop, implement and promote community-based initiatives which exemplify the professionalism and integrity of the Collision Repair Industry’.”
Tony Ferraiolo, President of the Auto Body Association of Connecticut (ABAC), believes that the best thing the association did in 2014 was to “bring education style meetings to our membership, specifically by presenting topics with speakers to address industry concerns and ever-changing evolution. We strive to entice members to get away from their normal way of conducting business and experience new and different approaches to keep up with training, technology, and equipment.”For the Georgia Collision Industry Association (GCIA), “our most memorable achievement was raising money for a local technical school to help them educate the next generation of technicians,” according to GCIA Executive Director Howard Batchelor. “The average age of technicians is over 45 years, and we need a well-educated work force to work on the technically advanced vehicles of today.”John Petrarca, President of the Auto Body Association of Rhode Island (ABARI), says “in 2014, ABARI witnessed the positive effects of its hard fought legislation regarding the valuation of total losses that was passed in 2013. As the regulatory process concluded in 2014, consumers quickly began to see the benefits of the legislation, as insurers must now use the 75% repair cost / value threshold for every vehicle, or obtain the owner’s written consent to total the vehicle, thereby preventing insurers from unfairly declaring a consumer’s repairable vehicle a total loss, because it would cost less. The law also requires insurers to value total loss vehicles based upon either NADA or Kelley Blue Book when settling total loss claims. ABARI fought hard at every step to prevent insurers from diluting the meaning and intent of the law at the regulatory level. We succeeded, and the law’s implementation has taken the guesswork and hassle out of the process and prevents insurers from using cost cutting programs to unfairly settle claims.  The total loss legislation was an enormous win for consumers, and ABARI is very proud to be part of this victory, especially in Rhode Island where most residents are still struggling to crawl out of a very difficult economy.”
For the Long Island Auto Body Repairmen’s Association (LIABRA), 2014 was filled with opportunities for growth and supporting their membership. Executive Director Ed Kizenberger recalls, “we had several memorable items worth mentioning in 2014. First is our merge with the Auto Body Craftsmen’s Guild of NYC. This merge will allow us to support and represent all of downstate New York. Our membership now spans from the East end of Long Island to the western end of Staten Island. Also, our parts procurement bill, which was one of the first of its kind in the USA, came quite close to being voted into law. We hope to see it come to its full potential in 2015. Lastly, our educational seminars were well attended and received good reviews from our membership.”
“At ASA-Illinois, our best accomplishment was hiring Donna Kelly as our new Executive Director,” Dave Walter, President and Chairman of ASA-IL’s Board states. “That, along with Deb Bullwinkel staying on as Co-Executive Director, was the catalyst for our 15% growth on the Mechanical side. They were also instrumental in what many would say is our most significant accomplishment, opening ASA-Illinois to Collision members after almost 20 years. They did a great job this year, and we’re looking forward to more growth in 2015.”
ASA-CO Board members got the chance to meet ASA-National’s Executive Director in 2014, and according to the affiliate chapter’s Executive Director Kari Foster, “meeting with Dan has been the highlight of ASA Colorado’s year. The work we do for the Collision members on the national level and in Washington is why many local members are a part of the Automotive Service Association of Colorado – and we are so proud to be a part of the national community.”
For many associations, no memories from 2014 can usurp memories of some of the events they hosted. Luz Rubio, Executive Director of ASA-AZ, cites the Phoenix Chapter’s Board retreat in August as being extremely memorable since it was the first time the retreat has been held in over a decade. Rubio states, “it was a great experience. All members contributed to the development of the plan for the year and agreed to reconvene in 2015.” 
For John Williams, Executive Vice President of the Independent Damage Appraisers Association (IADA), his most memorable association-related experience of 2014 was “the success of our 46th Vehicle Repair Conference in Baltimore, MD. Our conference was well attended, and speakers were outstanding; it was a great educational experience!”
Similarly, “for TIAA, the most memorable event was the 2014 Texas Tire & Automotive EXPO. It was memorable because it was the first joint convention/EXPO of the Texas Tire Dealers and the Texas Automotive Collision/Repair organizations, and it was very successful. This first event set the stage for a great future alliance between the two industries,” says Chuck Space, Executive Director of the Texas Independent Automotive Association (TIAA).
ASA-Northwest also enjoyed a successful event in 2014 with their annual Automotive Training Expo (ATE) where, Executive Director Jeff Lovell recounts, “we had over 900 attendees with 600 going through our training program; the Expo was sold out, and most of the training seminars were filled to capacity. Our first ATE had only 173 attendees going through the training, so it was a very special time for ASA-Northwest to see all of our efforts, which started seven years ago, come to fruition with such a successful ATE.”
Overall, 2014 was a very productive year for the collision repair industry, and hopefully, 2015 will be even better, thanks to the efforts of these and many other associations. We look forward to continuing to provide you with all of the association news in 2015 also. Happy holidays! See you in 2015!

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