When Joyce Kasmer chose to pursue a career with I-CAR, she had a feeling it would be a perfect fit—and she wasn’t wrong. As the organization’s director of marketing, Kasmer is eager to address the industry’s most critical needs. She will draw on her years of marketing and sales management experience—including positions at Nissan and a world-leading manufacturer of high tech coding, printing and laser marketing parts—to improve relationships between I-CAR and its members. Though undertaking such a project will undoubtedly present some challenges along the way, Kasmer is optimistic. Here, she shares some I-CAR goals, and the strategies she and others in the organization will use to achieve those goals.
I-CAR is undertaking a huge effort to find out how to best meet the industry’s needs. What led to the realization that I-CAR was off-track?
Being intentional about changing our focus is not so much about having gone off-track as it is about the need to revisit our values in a changing business environment—and then making the necessary adjustments to the business model. Once again, we’ve rooted ourselves in our mission: Every person in the collision industry has the necessary technical knowledge and skills relevant to their position to achieve a complete and safe repair. And we understand that we must meet the needs of our customers. Training needs are changing at a rapid pace, and there are a lot of complexities. If we are not changing as an organization, we are not meeting the needs of our customers in a changing world.
I-CAR has formed Industry Segment Advisory Councils (ISACs) that will counsel staff about those groups:
The purpose of the ISACs is to provide a voice to I-CAR for their particular segment so the organization can better understand their needs and respond appropriately to them. This could be in the form of relevant training, service or how we can leverage our relationships together. [As of mid-June] we have four of the six councils in various stages of activity. The Collision Repair Facility and Insurance ISACs have already met. The OEM and Education councils are preparing for their first meetings. Each council varies in size, with approximately 7 to 10 members representing each segment. ISAC members meet face-to-face once a quarter, with conference calls between meetings as needed.
You had your first meeting with the Collision Repair Facility ISAC earlier this summer. How did it go?
I must honestly say that I was inspired by the depth that came out of this meeting. This team is a group of committed, respected leaders who understand the need for collision training in the inter-industry and who believe in I-CAR’s role in fulfilling that need. I went in with an open mind and no preconceptions, and I came away with a new understanding of the willingness of this team to communicate so candidly with us. The Collision Repair Facility ISAC includes Craig Griffin of Laney’s Collision; Barry Dorn of Dorn’s Body & Paint; Paul Blaski of Sterling Autobody Centers; Brett Bailey of CARSTAR; Rose Grenell of ABRA; Jim Pickett of Service King; Aaron Clark of Collision Solutions; and Chuck Lee of Gerber Collision & Glass.
What is your timeline for integrating ideas you get from the ISACs?
Changes are happening right now. The I-CAR staff is fully committed to our new customer-focused model. Even in a short time period, the ISAC teams have provided useful input in new product development and service offerings, and they are helping us rethink our processes so that we can better serve the marketplace. As with any organization there are short-, mid- and long-term plans and some things will happen sooner than others simply because of available resources and existing infrastructure.
I-CAR has done a lot of reorganizing. What is important for shop owners to know about these changes?
We carefully reviewed our processes that could more efficiently operate with a restructuring of resources. Shop owners will benefit from the new structure because we are finding ways to streamline our services and deliver more value. We have also identified areas where we have needed to bring on additional expertise.
As these organizational changes take effect, how do you anticipate them benefiting the collision repair industry?
The collision repair industry can expect to see more courses that address emerging technologies and that support collision repair professionals in their respective roles. We have identified many opportunities and we are moving very quickly into our new customer-focused, market-driven, fact-based operating model. This is a strategic approach that will guide what you see from I-CAR in the future.
What training courses or industry events does I-CAR have planned for the near future?
We are excited about our new approach to our International Annual Meeting, which will be held later this month, July 24–26, in Scottsdale, Ariz. This year’s meeting will be an opportunity for those in the inter-industry to share their perspectives and to have I-CAR listen—that’s a focus we feel reflects our new business model. The meeting will also showcase first-hand information from a number of OEM participants and other presenters, some of whom are new to this event. General Motors, Chrysler, Porsche, Toyota and Mercedes-Benz representatives will be on hand to present technical information. And of course, the meeting provides ample opportunity to network with others in the inter-industry.
The intent for this year’s meeting is for those in attendance to leave with information that will enhance their role in the collision repair interindustry in the months and years to come. I would encourage people who are interested in attending this event to visit our website at I-CAR.com/annualmeeting. We will also be participating at NACE in November. Our participation in this event will continue our theme of listening and responding to the needs of our customer. We look forward to unveiling some exciting new products and services at that event.
Given the changes that have taken place over the last several months, where does I-CAR stand today?
Our change has been rapid, and the results indicate we are moving in the right direction. For example, our live classroom training has exceeded our expectations. Most recently, our U.S. attendance at these events has surpassed our goals by more than 10 percent. This is a positive indicator that we are hearing what our customers are asking for, and we’re making the most of these growth opportunities. Additionally, the efforts of our ISACs in reaching the inter-industry have provided us with some extremely positive feedback.