ASA National Convention Embraces Change

Jan. 1, 2020
NASHVILLE, TN (May 5, 2007) - At the Automotive Service Association's (ASA's) recent 2007 national convention, there was plenty of "business as usual": elections, reports and new initiatives. However, the meeting also provided attendees with the chan
ASSOCIATION NEWSASA National Convention 
Embraces Change
Keys to growth and success include diversity and grassroots political activity. NASHVILLE, TN (May 5, 2007) - At the Automotive Service Association's (ASA's) recent 2007 national convention, there was plenty of "business as usual": elections, reports and new initiatives. However, the meeting also provided attendees with the chance to celebrate achievements, share updates on legislative efforts and trends, educate delegates about managing stress and change and exchange ideas in an open forum of current concerns affecting the association's membership specifically and the industry in general."We need a diverse and integrated approach if ASA is to grow." - Ron PyleGrowth fueled by change In his "State of the Association" address to the attendees, President Ron Pyle told attendees, "We need a diverse and integrated approach if ASA is to grow. We're in a changing environment. Our job is to help you make that transition so we have a vital, healthy independent aftermarket service and repair industry for years to come." He expressed his pleasure at seeing more ethnic, gender and age diversity emerging at meetings, on the membership list and also amongst those graduating and considered for awards recognizing achievement and commitment to the association and industry. Pyle urged ASA to continue to be membership-driven and membership-focused, seek and make decisions on good quality data and strive to raise the bar of professionalism among its members: "We need to, and are, addressing that." ASA saw 3 percent overall growth last year, while also having a retention rate of 83 percent. While happy with this encouraging and real growth, Pyle stressed that the association must continue attracting and recruiting new members. 2007 ASA Awards Presentation The AMI Annual Recognition Award, the highest honor the institute bestows on an organization or industry leader, was presented to Bill Sauer, AAM, founder of Identifix, Roseville, Minn. John Francis, AAM, AMI outgoing board of trustees chairman, presented the award. The Associate of the Year is presented to an associate member in appreciation of its relationship with ASA, and for the value, quality and professional service it offers to ASA members. This year's recipient was Hanley Wood Exhibitions for its longtime management of ASA's International Autobody Congress and Exposition. The Alpha Award recognizes an ASA Mechanical Division member for his or her generous and far-reaching contributions to the automotive service industry. Bob Wills, owner of Wills Auto Service in Battle Creek, Mich., was the recipient of this year's award. The Phoenix Award recognizes an ASA Collision Division member for his or her contribution to the automotive service industry. Harry Moppert, owner of Moppert Brothers Collision Services Group in Morton, Pa., was the recipient of this year's award. The ASA Legislative Award recognizes those who have made an impact on legislative and regulatory activities. Two awards were given this year: ASA-Colorado was recognized for its commitment to educating congressional representatives about information availability and their opposition to Right to Repair legislation; and ASA-Washington was recognized for its ongoing efforts to address auto emissions and super-warranty issues. The Phoenix Award recognizes an ASA Collision Division member for his or her contribution to the automotive service industry. Harry Moppert, owner of Moppert Brothers Collision Services Group in Morton, Pa., was the recipient of this year's award. The Communicator of the Year Award recognizes an ASA member for outstanding efforts in using different communication vehicles to promote its business in the community and industry. This year's recipient was Donny Seyfer, AAM, co-owner and manager of Seyfer Automotive in Wheatridge, Colo. The Affiliate of the Year Award is based on several factors such as membership growth, educational events, participation in ASA national programs, legislative activities and overall contributions of their membership to the automotive industry. The recipient of this year's award was ASA-Texas. The Affiliate with the Largest Delegation recognizes the ASA affiliate with the greatest number of members at the annual convention. This year's award was presented to ASA-Washington. The Humanitarian Award - ASA's highest honor - recognizes selfless acts, both inside and outside the industry, of those who promote general goodwill. This year's recipient was ASA-New Orleans, for their generosity and assistance to their fellow members, and their strength and perseverance during the continuing rebuilding process following Hurricane Katrina. Charlie Elder, AAM, ASA's outgoing chairman, presented the award to Michelle and Steve Sallinger, Ole Metairie Car Care Inc., Metairie, La. The Chairman's Award of Excellence recognizes individuals for their outstanding contributions to ASA and the automotive repair industry. Two awards were granted this year by Elder. Steve Johnson, Number One Tire and Service, Warwick, R.I., received the award for his work with his state's auto emissions and safety inspection program; and Dan Stander, Jerry Stander's Collision Works, Littleton, Colo., was recognized for his work on ASA's three new collision repair fliers to help members communicate with their insurance representatives. The Motor Age Award is presented in recognition of significant, voluntary contribution made by those elected as Chair of the ASA Board of Directors. This year, the award was presented to Charlie Elder, of Ray Gordon Brake Service, Tallahassee FL.

He said that research of national trends shows that future growth in ASA's membership will be concentrated in the Hispanic and Asian communities. Encouraging gender and age diversity is imperative, too. More females are entering the industry, and of course, the market for automotive services is only half male. In addition, ASA's membership has to get younger, as many of its members are nearing retirement. The need to attract youth, as businesses are transitioned to a younger generation of family or sold to others is important; so, too, is helping members make that transition, with dignity and prosperity, as they pass the torch.

"The dilution of our industry into too many associations and interest groups also has to stop," Pyle stressed. The industry needs to stop fracturing itself, he added, and instead seek ways to build alliances that matter. He pointed to the success of the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF) and the ongoing dialogue with the Associated Locksmiths of America as just two examples of industry collaboration that makes a difference for ASA's members. 

"We need to continue to search out ways to be influential within the industry," Pyle said. He cited initiatives by ASA members that included fostering dialogue and participation with other associations at the board level, gaining the willing ear of government officials regarding licensing and other issues, and nurturing the goodwill of consumer groups. 

ASA is attracting positive attention across the industry, he noted, reflected by an increased interest by groups of shops seeking affiliation with ASA - such as a group of Florida-based shops - and that interest requires proper guidance as they move toward that goal. 

Issues that matter During an open forum session, members discussed a number of issues that were of concern. These included shop licensing, super warranties, telematics, the need for annual emissions inspections and the use of crash parts for repair (that have no remanufactured or certified-used-parts standards or requirements). Shop licensing is gaining traction and momentum. Bob Wills, Shop Licensing Committee chairperson, spoke about the merits of new shop licensing legislation proposed in Texas, and sponsored by ASA, as compared to what is being enacted in other states to date.  All shops - collision or mechanical, dealer or independent - need to be included, Wills said. Establishing uniform education and testing/certification platforms should be considered, not omitted from any discussion, and actions taken. In addition, the interests of the service and repair industry, consumers and government must be included. And while enforcement is necessary, the legislation must encourage compliance - without overburdening good-faith attempts at it, he said.  "We need to get this right. This is not a revenue generator for anyone. It's a means of leveling the playing field," said Wills. Concern about 15-year/150,000-mile super warranties and the recent 100,000-mile vehicle warranties issued by automakers continue to loom. In the case of the former, litigation is still in progress, while in the case of the latter, discussion centered on the need to clearly identify what is really covered by such warranties. In addition, while just 20 states currently require annual vehicle inspections, ASA continues to urge other states to follow suit. Telematics will continue to impact shops and technicians, as more sensors are included during the making of automobiles. However, it was noted that there has been some attrition in participation in maintenance-related programs such as OnStar. This was attributed to a number of reasons, including pricing and a recent switch to digital system architecture, which has rendered the original first-generation analog system in many older, OnStar-equipped vehicles obsolete.Consumer protectionism rising ASA Washington Representative Robert Redding provided attendees with a legislative update at both the federal and state levels. Federal and state governments, driven by concerns about protecting consumers, are looking closely at antitrust provisions, as well as unfair and deceptive trade practices.  The federal Antitrust Modernization Commission (AMC) has completed its review of the Sherman Act, and recommended to the House Judiciary Committee that it focus on limiting immunity from antitrust action to more narrow criteria: tackling price/credit fixing and updating fines/penalties for violations. In a related initiative, efforts to repeal the McCarran-Ferguson Act, in order to reverse the exemption of insurance companies from some federal antitrust statutes, also continue in the interests of both independent shops and consumers."We need to get 
this right. This is not a revenue generator for anyone.
 It's a means of leveling the playing field." - Bob Wills

At the state level, a number of states, led by Ohio, Florida and California, have noted that among the complaints received from consumers, those involving automobile service continue to rank far too high in frequency. Some states have enacted or strengthened consumer protection laws. Others, such as Nevada, choose to run sting operations. However, while these stings hit shops that warrant exposure, they also serve to negatively influence and unfairly paint the public perception of this industry.

Redding also noted that members should expect a Right-to-Repair (R2R) bill - which ASA will continue to oppose - to be reintroduced at the federal level, but without the level of support prior Congresses had. He also pointed out that at the state level, R2R legislative efforts are being effectively opposed by ASA. He noted that the Florida bill failed to get through the committee level, and that ASA continues to testify and educate legislators in Maine and other states that effective and voluntary non-legislated means to repair already exist.

PACs: a vehicle for grassroots political action The need to consider establishing a Political Action Committee (PAC) was also explained by Redding. PACs fund grassroots legislative activities at both the federal and state levels, he said, for educating and influencing lawmakers. "Those groups who have been doing this for a long time have had a good deal of success," he noted.  At the federal level, a PAC would be very useful in furthering the membership's interests with the Antitrust Subcommittee, Insurance Subcommittee and other industry relevant panels. At the state level, thrusts could include initiatives such as the ASA-sponsored shop licensing bill in Texas, raising awareness and understanding that R2R isn't necessary, and lobbying for healthcare, insurance and other reforms needed to help independent shops. During the course of business considered by the ASA Board of Directors, establishing and funding a PAC with $15,000 was approved.Recognizing commitment Elections, graduation and awards were also a large part of the proceedings at this national event.  "What shops work on today is not what OEMs are building today." - Bill Haas Election results included outgoing ASA Board of Directors Chairman Charlie Elder yielding the gavel to new Chairman Aaron Clements. He will be joined by Chairman-elect Reggie Denney, Secretary-Treasurer Dennis Sterwerf, Jerry Burns, Daniel Guido, Diane Rodenhouse, Russell McCloud, Ron Nagy, Dan Torbeck, Darrell Amberson and Earl Dohner. Ron Pyle also will serve on the Board in an ex-officio capacity. Providing educational programs that matter to members and their futures continues to be another pillar on which ASA's growth is founded. Bill Haas, ASA vice president for Education and Training, noted that, "what shops work on today is not what OEMs are building today,"  Both Haas and Pyle are emphatic that the education programs provided at regional events or at CARS during Industry Week by both the Automotive Management Institute (AMI) and ASA associate members- such as Robert Bosch Corp., Mitchell 1 or others - must continue to show relevance today, as well as lead and empower members toward a prosperous future. In its annual Celebration of Excellence, 112 automotive service professionals graduated from AMI with the Accredited Automotive Manager (AAM) designation. The graduating class demonstrated the diversity of background that Pyle alluded to -earlier - with broad ethnic, age and gender representation. Notably, the class even included one graduate from South Korea.  Following the graduation ceremony, ASA presented a number of awards to its members, in recognition of outstanding commitment and giving to the association. ASA has reaffirmed its commitment to healthy growth today, maintaining the foundation for its future success and embracing the changes that make it happen.  "You're known by the company you keep," Pyle stated. "We are so blessed that we have leadership that really looks out for the future of our association, that really cares about where we're headed, and that devotes so much of their time, energy and wisdom to making sure we don't lose track of who we are and where we are."(Source: ASA)

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