By Geralynn Kottschade, AAM, Chairman
When I think about all the ways ASA benefits repair professionals today, I also stop to think about "the next generation" in line to take our place and their understanding of what our association has to offer. Do the second- and third-generation shop owners view ASA the way we did in years past? Do they recognize all we have to offer?
If you take a moment to review the value of ASA, it's impressive when you consider the many benefits available to all age groups. In addition to the obvious money-saving product and service benefits, ASA enhances us as individuals, provides a sense of belonging, gives us a stronger voice, puts us in touch with peers and provides ample opportunity for mentoring, travel and helping others. Have you taken the time to share these benefits with your next-generation owner or manager?
I look back to how Jerry and I first got involved in association life. Jerry's story is a little different than my own. He joined in the mid-'70s when he attended a recruiting meeting in Mankato, Minn. Later that year he saw an ad in Automotive Body Repair News about an Automotive Service Council (ASC) convention. Coming from a farming family that was active in Farm Bureau and 4-H, it seemed like the thing to do - join, get involved to help make change.
Myself, I am very much like our second-generation members. There was a history of association accomplishments before my involvement, and I recognized the value of those efforts. Some of the areas where progress was made include insurance relations, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), aftermarket parts and even the start of the computer age.
I did not meet Jerry until the early '80s. At that time he was president of ASC-Minnesota. One of our first dates was attending the group's state convention held at the Thunderbird in Minneapolis. There were so many wonderful people who welcomed me without judgment. We were like a family. And because I also came from a family of leaders, involvement seemed to be - as my son calls it - "a no-brainer." Because of my history, I feel I have more of a connection to the second- and third-generation ASA members. I recognize the efforts of those who came before us, which include so many things that affect the way we do business today.
Interestingly, the core issues have not changed much, as Pam Pierson, a member from Illinois, pointed out to me. But the impact ASA has on the issues has changed.
Over the years, we have been able to be in the center of the activities. Sometimes you can't see our actions, and at times it may even seem as if we are behind the eight ball on issues. Admittedly, we aren't ones to blow our own horn. Yet, the fact of the matter is we have organized groups working behind the scenes year-round, such as our operations committees for both the mechanical and collision divisions, plus the new government affairs committee. The three committees work hand in hand to help solve the issues we face daily.
ASA has excellent staff members whose daily jobs center around your needs as a member. I call on you - as a member - to help us identify the issues we face as shop owners and bring them to our staff or leaders so we can help you. Members helping members - that is what ASA is all about. And do a new generation of shop owners a favor - let them know ASA is here to help them as well.