CIC Kicks Off 40th Year With Biggest Conference Yet

Jan. 20, 2023

A record crowd was on hand in the California desert for a day of education and networking. 

PALM SPRINGS, Calif.(Jan. 20, 2023)—Shortly after "The Star-Spangled Banner" concluded Thursday morning inside the Hilton ballroom, Frank Terlep was really feeling the excitement as he presided over his first Collision Industry Conference as chairman.

"I feel like the starting pitcher on Opening Day," said Terlep, to a packed room full of applause.

Just as a team's ace sets the tone for the rest of the game, Terlep charted an energetic course for the first CIC of 2023. This one was a little bit more significant than most, not only for the start of Terlep's chairmanship but for the 40th anniversary of CIC. And, as CIC Admin Jordan Hendler said, the attendance for this year's event was the biggest in CIC history. One needed just glance around the Hilton ballroom to see nearly every square inch was covered in chairs, all of them filled.

New CIC chairman Frank Terlep delivers some opening remarks.

It was fitting, then, that in a year that will be about celebrating the CIC legacy that the day began by looking back. CIC founding chairman Al Estorga was in attendance, and his fellow past chair Jeff Hendler relayed a story about how it was that CIC began. Estorga had traveled quite a distance to attend a national conference and ask a question about an industry issue. But Estorga was rebuffed by the moderator that day and told it was neither the time nor the place.

"And he kept saying," Hendler recalled, "we have to have a room where it's always the right time and the right place to discuss issues for the collision repair industry. That was the founding of CIC."

From looking back Terlep then looked forward in his opening remarks, laying out his top 10 issues he sees having the biggest effect on collision repair in 2023. Alongside consolidation not slowing down, OEMs having a greater influence and more, there of course was the employee shortage. And that was a focus of two of the sessions later in the day.

First up was Dave Luehr, outlining what shops can do to be an employer of choice in their market. Leuhr outlined five things employees ask themselves when considering an employer. They are:

  1. Does the work I do matter?
  2. Do I matter?
  3. How am I performing?
  4. Am I alone or a part of a team?
  5. Will this company help me reach my career goals?

By examining these questions, Luehr said, employers can began to craft the kind of business and the kind of culture that appeals to today's employees.

"I don't believe we have a shortage of talent," Luehr said. "Oh, no. But I do think we have a shortage of great places for them to work."

It was standing room only everywhere around the Palm Springs Hilton.


Other perspectives were on display as well. Attendees learned about the novel approach of Newgate School in Minneapolis, where students are trained for free working on donated cars. When they're ready, they can move on to an entry-level position in a real shop and continue honing their skills. Twin Cities-based Darrell Amberson of LaMettry's has established a working relationship with the school and employs several Newgate graduates.

"For the most part, the students that are applying there, they really see the value in a free school and see the direct path to getting a good job. And they're ready to work," said Newgate Operations Manager Todd Grothe.

Other sessions of the day focused on telematics, legal issues facing shops, emerging technologies and more. The day concluded with the CIC gala as attendees got some valuable time to relax and network. The next CIC event is scheduled for April in Richmond, Virginia, and based on the attendance in Palm Springs, interested attendees were advised to book early.

About the Author

Todd Kortemeier

Todd Kortemeier is former editor of FenderBender magazine.

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