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  Guest Editorial

Why Akzo Nobel Established CIAI

Posted 12/15/2004
By Bill Orr

"To be a tool for aiding in the growth, advancement and perception of the collision industry in North America by providing financial assistance, support and nurturing to institutions, organizations and individuals possessing specific needs that they are unable to meet on their own."

The above comment is the mission statement of the newly announced Collision Industry Advancement Initiative (CIAI) from Akzo Nobel Coatings Inc. Akzo Nobel is the world's largest supplier of paint and coatings. Our Car Refinishes business is known by collision centers throughout the world for providing superior color match and technologically advanced paint system solutions, as well as unique total business services.

While some might choose to stop there, Akzo Nobel Car Refinishes of North America, as an industry leader, recognized the need to go a step beyond. The CIAI is a stewardship program that has been designed to aid in the replenishment and growth of the collision industry in North America.

In announcing the CIAI, Jim Rees, general manager of Akzo Nobel Car Refinishes North America, commented: "Akzo Nobel recognizes that this industry requires investment for growth to occur. There are many schools, industry associations and organizations that are focused on making the collision repair industry a career destination as well as a more professional working environment. However, these entities frequently struggle for resources. Our goal is to support these great organizations with the CIAI. If the industry prospers, so too will Akzo Nobel."

While sponsored by Akzo Nobel, the Collision Industry Advancement Initiative will be assisted by an Advisory Council that is comprised of industry dignitaries representing a cross section of organizations. Our Advisory Council includes Geralynn Kottschade, AAM, chairman of the board of ASA. Serving with Kottschade are Andy Clawson, director of finance for Akzo Nobel Car Refinishes North America; Sheila Loftus, Council chairman and publisher and editor of Hammer and Dolly; Tom Moreland, director of industry relations and national accounts for Akzo Nobel Coatings; Russell Thrall, technical services manager for the I-CAR Education Foundation; and Don Treschak, owner of Treschak Enterprises of Toronto. The grants will be assessed according to the following criteria: industry impact, perceived severity of the need and the petitioner's own ability to fulfill that need. The Advisory Council will review requests for funding twice a year.

We are proud to announce that the first beneficiary of the CIAI initiative is the Automotive Management Institute (AMI). AMI is the leading provider of management education for the automotive service industry. Rees made the presentation to AMI during the Celebration of Excellence awards ceremony at NACE 2004 (see page 36).

The timing of the award's announcement could not have been any better. It followed the graduation exercises of 206 AMI graduates. Since AMI was founded in 1989, it has been dedicated to educating individuals in the automotive service industry to become better leaders and participants. Its mission is to provide and promote practical business management education tailored to automotive service.

Through its accredited curriculum consisting of more than 500 courses taught by more than 150 faculty members, AMI is making the kind of difference we at Akzo like to see. Education is a tool for improvement and enlightenment. With that said, it is easy to see why AMI received the honor of being CIAI's first funding beneficiary.

We invite the entire automotive service industry community to present their requests for funding in the coming years. Through the industry's causes, and CIAI's financial assistance, we can accomplish great things.

To get a grant application, please visit our Web site at

Bill Orr is manager of market communications for Akzo Nobel Car Refinishes in North America. He has more than 25 years of experience in marketing, sales and communication.

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