Do you ever wonder what the conditions must be for those summer forest fires that happen every year? Forests grow old and large and many of their trees are victims of insects, overcrowding and disease.
Along comes a thunderstorm or a campfire that does not get completely quenched and we get the damage that levels acres of forest. Within a few months nature begins a fast forward re-vegetation process that replaces dead and damaged trees with small plants and soon larger ones until the ecosystem is replenished in years rather than decades.
Unless you do not read any of the industry press releases you are probably aware that the Automotive Service Association has had an event similar to one of the summer wild fires. In a nutshell, yes I am sticking with my forest theme. A trusted and beloved employee betrayed the association, its members and staff by stealing from us. For my fellow board members and me it was a punch in the stomach that we did not see coming. After a few days research we realized that the losses would require us to take a very active role in the management of our beloved association.
Our board, members of our affiliates and staff arrived at our spring board meeting with a mountain covered with debris and rubble. Once we started peeling back the damage we discovered that a unique opportunity presented itself to us. While our financial resources had been stressed considerably we found that our talent resources were just like the aftermath of a forest fire.
For years the relationship with our affiliate organizations has been a tenuous one. There are numerous reasons but for the most part it was failure to communicate effectively. At the end of that board meeting I had the delightful opportunity to participate in an open conversation with our volunteer leaders that has been a long-time dream of mine. The fertile imagination of our leadership was on full display. Problems that had seemed insurmountable only weeks before were so simple that the solutions fell just like the burned out trees they had become.
Upon returning home my phone and email were filled with either "What the hell is going on?" or "How can I help?" Many of the latter came from surprising sources.
Support for the necessary change that the ASA board and its affiliates agreed to has been received warmly. To modify a cliché, where one door closes a multitude open. The outpouring of good will is heartwarming to those of us who spend hundreds of hours a year working to insure that independent auto repairers thrive.
Going forward there are many projects that are ready to see the light of day. There are going to be changes that will make us more lean and nimble to respond to the changes coming our way. There will also be opportunities for our partners to participate in dialogue that frankly was difficult in the past.
We are looking to ride nature's rapid recovery system and make our ecosystem better for all of its inhabitants. I am hoping to see you at CARS or NACE this year where the outcome of all of our plans will have its day in the sun.
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