ROAD WARRIORS: Spreading the Red, White and Blue
By Leona Dalavai Scott
To help relate the value of ASA to independent shops across the country, ASA enlists the aid of its two recruiters, Todd Mehalko (left) and Bret Sullins.
Meet Todd Mehalko and Bret Sullins, ASA's recruiters. They travel the highways and byways of our fair country, telling shop owners about the value of membership in ASA. Perhaps they have visited your shop or town. They may even be planning to stop by your city in the near future. Having met with hundreds and even thousands of members and nonmembers alike, they know a thing or two about the value of joining ASA and what being an ASA member means. In this question-and-answer article, get to know these recruiters and why they believe - that if you're an independent shop - a membership in ASA is the next best thing to a cell phone and a GPS unit!
AutoInc.: How long have you been a recruiter for ASA? How did you get started recruiting? Did you have a background in automotive service?
Todd: I have been a recruiter for ASA for 12 years and cover 24 states. My first job ever was at a Mobil gas station in North Richland Hills, Texas, pumping gas, fixing flat tires and changing oil. From age 20 until the present I have been in a sales or management type of position.
Bret: I have been recruiting for three years. I grew up on a farm, working on farm equipment. But since my first job as a porter at the local GM dealership, I have worked almost exclusively in the automotive industry. I have been a collision and mechanical repair technician, as well as a manufacturer's rep and jobber salesman. I owned two collision shops, and my dad owned a mechanical shop. I became a member of ASA because of training offered by the Automotive Management Institute (AMI) and because of a legislative issue in Texas that I wanted to help support. I do have a shop owner perspective that has helped me relate to their needs and concerns, especially to our collision shop owners.
"Most of our member shops are better informed and managed. They have a genuine concern for the health of our industry. Many of our members are involved in their communities. These things stand out among our members."
- Bret Sullins
AutoInc.: In your travels, what are the reasons you see prospects joining ASA or members renewing?
Todd: There are a number of reasons that people join ASA. Industry information and legislative representation are two big reasons. Timely information is very important to business owners today as well as being kept abreast of any legislative issues that may be affecting their business.
Management and technical training opportunities are yet another reason. Many businesses in our industry are starting to realize the importance of technical and management training. They are finding that it is imperative to their survival.
Shops are looking for any way they can cut overhead. Saving money on shop services and goods has become even more important in these economic times.
Last but not least, we have a number of shops that join solely to be a part of the group so that they have a networking community to share thoughts with and bounce ideas off of. This is one of the main reasons businesses should join ASA.
Bret: The main reason mechanical shops join has been for money-saving benefits from our benefit providers. Collision shops typically join because they are concerned about a certain issue, and they feel they have a voice with ASA. A few join for the whole package such as legislative representation, information and education along with the money-saving benefits and networking with other like-minded individuals. They renew for the same reasons, with the networking becoming even more important.
AutoInc.: What are some common characteristics or perceptions that you have noticed between the many ASA member shops you have visited? How about between ASA member shops and other shops in general (that are not members) - any difference?
Todd: The one common thread that I see with ASA shops versus nonmember shops is the dedication to make their shops as professional as possible. ASA shops and prospective member shops all want to run their businesses better. They are looking for answers to manage their businesses more professionally, productively and efficiently.
I would say that the majority of ASA members are - or are striving to be - more professional and profitable. Comparatively speaking, ASA shops are more professional because, through ASA, they have the source of information and services that their business needs. Nonmembers do not have the same tools and network capabilities, so I would say they are at a disadvantage. We keep our members ahead of the curve.
Bret: It is interesting to see the regional differences. Most of our member shops are better informed and managed. They have a genuine concern for the health of our industry. Many of our members are in_volved in their communities. These things stand out among our members.
"ASA has the history, information, training as well as the networking, representation and money-saving benefits that shops need to succeed."
- Todd Mehalko
AutoInc.: Traveling is a big part of your life as a recruiter. What is one thing that you would not leave home without on your travels?
Todd: A cell phone. This is how I keep linked up to the rest of the world when I am on the road.
Bret: My GPS unit. The first trip I made for ASA, I determined I was going to have to get one.
AutoInc.: Anything else that you would like to add - either about our members or the value of ASA?
Todd: ASA members are people who either want to run a professional repair business or want to run a professional repair business better. I have spoken to many successful collision and mechanical shop owners over the years who have testified that they would have never made it to where they are today if not for ASA.
Shop owners make the relationships as well as receive the information and training they need to be successful in this industry through the association. ASA is the only association doing what we do for shop owners in our industry.
ASA has the history, information, training as well as the networking, representation and money-saving benefits shops need to succeed. We also have a member-driven staff that is second to none to back up these claims. ASA membership is money well spent no matter which side of the industry you work in or what state you reside in.
Bret: I feel honored to be part of such a great network of people. This is not a job - it's a calling.
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