The past two years have been quite a ride. Your association has seen major change and made an unprecedented comeback. When Darrell Amberson, AAM, took over as chairman, he and the board had much to do. The ASA board and our then-new president, Dan Risley, decided on a new direction to ensure our long-term survival. We spent the first year rekindling neglected relationships and steering the big ship that is NACE and CARS away from the rocks. Two years later, these efforts were rewarded with positive income instead of a $1 million loss.
Now, ASA is in a better place than it has been in years. Our relationships with other aftermarket groups and carmakers are excellent. In February -— with the help of Bob Redding, our legislative representative in Washington, D.C. — we brought together 70 people, former opponents on the right-to-repair front, to talk about connected cars. Eleven automakers were represented, as were the heads of most of the key aftermarket organizations. The meeting was a success, and we’re planning a follow-up for CARS.
Volunteer leaders, from the collision and mechanical operations committees to the board of directors, deserve your thanks. They’ve worked hard, but we’re not done yet. We’re in the midst of reorganizing our business model. Our affiliates are our lifeblood, able to work with our local members and provide services that the national office can’t. They provide a face, a smile and a connection between the industry and you.
We’re working to eliminate perceived, or real, competition with our affiliates. For example, we’ve restructured our annual mechanical division meeting and trade show, CARS, that runs concurrently with NACE. Given hotel and travel expenses, it’s cost prohibitive to bring a shop’s technical staff to CARS. It’s cost effective to provide local technical training. So we’ve refocused CARS on owners and managers, giving them new techniques to run their businesses better and how to develop new talent and work with existing staff on policy, technology and legislation. By taking this approach, we can provide more support to local/regional affiliate events. We hope that you and your staff will attend the affiliate event closest to you for technical and Automotive Management Institute training, and have your management team attend NACE | CARS to get the big picture.
Speaking of the big picture, ASA has some exciting news. Tony Molla, who comes from ASE and has had a storied career from technician to industry icon, will manage our Collision and Mechanical Divisions. And Jeff Peevy, who will be in charge of the Automotive Management Institute, comes from I-CAR. These guys are poised to take both of our great organizations to the next level. For more info on these guys, see pages 4-5.
I am excited about where ASA is going. For those of you who don’t know me, I am a second-generation ASA chairman. My dad, Don, provided many great years of service to the industry and still keeps the shop running so that I can serve. A good association is a team effort and cliché or not, it’s obvious that a team works for us. Can we count on you to be part of the team? Find somebody who needs to attend a chapter or affiliate meeting, attend events and learn from your peers. If you can spare some time to pitch in, pick up the phone. We’ll find some way to put your talents to work. I promise, you’ll get back so much more than you give.