Celebrating 50 Years of ProfessionalismPosted 5/16/2001
By B. J. Johnson
This article is dedicated to the men and women who have tirelessly given of themselves to make the industry and the Automotive Service Association (ASA) what is is today. We thank you and celebrate your accomplishments.
This group of individuals had a vision to unite the independent automotive repair industry through a trade association. The forefathers of the association established the association and a mission. The mission read, The purpose of the association has always been to promote the best interests of the trade, increase its facilities for commercial transactions, and at the same time, offer better service to the public.
In many respects, operating an independent repair facility in 1951 wasn't much different than operating one today. The pioneers of the industry faced many of the same issues that are present now - lack of qualified technicians, legislative and regulatory concerns, ever-evolving technology, and more. For 50 years this association has been at the forefront addressing these concerns on behalf of its members.
The benefits offered to association members then are nearly a mirror image of the more than 30 benefits offered now. Your association has continually offered a monthly magazine, discounts on products and services, reduced rates on business insurance and legislative representation.
In 1956, the association held its first national convention in Wichita, Kan. The convention brought together members from around the country to discuss the future of the industry and the association's role. This year the association will hold its 45th national convention, where attendees will chart a course for the association to follow in the next 50 years.
For example, in 1971, the association realized the need for a technician training program and launched the first national voluntary technician certification program, the National Automotive Technician Certification Board (NATCB). Industry members now know this organization as the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). The association continues to be a staunch supporter of ASE and the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation Inc. (NATEF).
In addition, ASA has made great strides in the areas of management education and technical training. In 1988, the association chartered the Automotive Service Association Management Institute, which later changed its name to the Automotive Management Institute (AMI). AMI, the only accreditation program for the automotive service industry, began offering the Accredited Automotive Manager (AAM) designation. The institute's mission is to provide and promote practical business management education tailored to the members of the automotive service industry. To date, the institute has graduated 621 industry members.
To provide a platform for education and training, the association formed the Transmeet in 1972 and the Congress of Automotive Repair and Service in 1973. These two events were combined in 1989 and are now known as CARS. The annual event offers members an educational and technical program designed specifically for mechanical and transmission repair facilities.
Throughout its existence the association has been fortunate to have dedicated, insightful volunteer leadership. The leaders understood the importance of having a voice in the nation's capital to protect the interests of its members. In 1973, Don Randall was hired as the association's Washington, D.C., representative. During his tenure, Randall elevated the association's presence in Washington, D.C., to a new level. His successful work on the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 as well as the ongoing fight to repeal the McCarran-Ferguson Act are just two examples of his determination to shield the industry from adverse legislation. In 1993, Randall retired and Bob Redding took the reins as the association's legislative representative.
Redding has preserved the integrity of the automotive repair industry through his continued work on such topics as inspection and maintenance, on-board diagnostic information, parts reform legislation, OSHA reform legislation, salvage title legislation and more.
Redding has spearheaded summits and conferences with key groups and organizations in the automotive service industry, including vehicle manufacturers, insurers, paint companies, recyclers, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA), the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), and the Small Business Legislative Council (SBLC).
Over the years, as new laws and regulations were passed - many with equipment or update requirements - the association's leadership determined a financial institution that understood the automotive service industry and its members was greatly needed. With that in mind, in 1973 the association chartered its federal credit union. The ASA Federal Credit Union continually grows and is the most solvent it has ever been.
Financial stability has long been a top priority to the leadership of the association. Through solid accounting and investment management the association has remained financially sound. To demonstrate this to its members, in 1990 the association began publishing an annual report. The report is sent every year to all ASA members and includes the complete auditor's financial report.
As the industry, technology and the world have progressed, so has the association by positioning itself to keep up with the times. In 1995, ASA launched its Web site to have a presence on the information highway. The site provides information on the association, as well as consumer-related items. Due to the site's valuable information it has been recognized as an Internet feature Web site by Dow Jones and the editors of 4anything.com.
In addition to the ASA Web site, AutoInc., the official publication of ASA, has its own site. The AutoInc. site has been chosen as a key resource online publication by Links2Go, and has been showcased among the best and most noteworthy news and journalism resources online by the editors of HeadlineSpot.com.
As a result of the association's efforts, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration presented ASA with a certificate of appreciation recognizing the association's contributions to public awareness and outreach efforts for the DOT Auto Safety Hotline.
Since the beginning, the association has balanced its efforts between maintaining public confidence and serving its members. Along the way there have been hurdles to overcome for the good of the association - perhaps none more profound than the decision the association board of directors made in 1998:
The association's mission states it was founded to advance the professionalism and excellence in the automotive repair industry. For several years, the leadership heard complaints from members and prospective members that they did not wish to belong to all levels of membership within the association.
ASA remains the largest not-for-profit trade association of its kind, with thousands of members worldwide and 16 affiliate groups.
The association was built on a solid foundation by professionals who had a vision of what the independent automotive service industry could become.
As ASA embarks on the next 50 years, members and the industry can be confident in knowing the association will continue to strive for excellence and professionalism in the automotive service industry.
ASA recently lost two influential individuals who were instrumental in the developmental years of the association. Jess Allman of Austin, Texas, and Barry McNulty of Mexico will be deeply missed and remembered. The association is grateful for their efforts and dedication.
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