Representatives of the Automotive Service Association (ASA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were on hand Nov. 6 in Las Vegas for an afternoon press conference to discuss new initiatives, goals and partnerships involving the two organizations. The press conference was held during ASA’s International Autobody Congress and Exposition (NACE) and Congress of Repair and Service (CARS) events – co-located as part of the second annual Automotive Service and Repair Week (ASRW) – at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center Nov. 4-7, 2009.
Bob Redding, ASA’s Washington, D.C., representative, provided an update on the legislative activities and focus by the association, such as endorsement of federal insurance legislation that includes property and casualty insurance regulation, and full repeal of the McCarran-Ferguson Act.
“We find ourselves in a place supporting repeal of McCarran this year and supporting the federal regulation of the insurance industry because our state regulators have let us down,” Redding said. “They let down consumers, and they’ve let small businesses down, especially collision repairers.”
ASA supports a full repeal of the McCarran-Ferguson Act, and is urging repairers to send letters supporting the repeal to their member of the House of Representatives and U.S. senators, through the ASA legislative site, www.TakingTheHill.com. The prewritten letters can be found in the “Legislative Alerts” section of the site.
Holly Wilson, team leader, Community Air Toxics Program, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), outlined the agency’s progress addressing environmental and health issues within auto body businesses. The agency’s Collision Repair Campaign (CRC) is designed to assist these businesses in achieving compliance through training and technical assistance. As part of the campaign, EPA representatives conducted informational and hands-on training sessions in the NACE Educational Theater, as well as met with attendees directly on the show floor. Attendees to the 90-minute informational sessions received certifications of completion that will be recognized as part of the documented training requirements for the new rule.
Collision repair shops, just one of several sectors affected by this rule, must be in full compliance by Jan. 9, 2011. “This may sound like a lot of time, but a lot of these shops have never had to deal with federal regulations before,” said Wilson. “So that’s the reason we’re out two years ahead of this goal.” Wilson and her team are also distributing educational materials, including DVDs, free of charge to interested ASRW attendees.
Denise Caspersen, ASA Collision Division manager, provided the audience with an overview of the Collision Division Operations Committee’s 2009 focus: “Being engaged.”
“We have become engaged with insurers more and more. We have become more engaged with parts manufacturers this year. And then our different step was becoming engaged with the federal government with the fly-in,” said Caspersen.
Caspersen turned over the podium to Darrell Amberson, AAM, Collision Division director, who discussed the success of the 2009 ASA Capitol Hill Fly-In, as well as announced the dates for the 2010 event. “It was an incredible experience for many of us repairers to fly in and meet with many of our legislators, talk about our concerns and issues, and get some understanding as to how our government works,” said Amberson. “I believe we had more than 70 shops represented, and we consider it a success.” As a result, ASA will hold another legislative fly-in event, open to all ASA members, May 11-12, 2010, in Washington, D.C. More information about the upcoming fly-in is available online at www.TakingTheHill.com/ flyin2010.htm.
Ron Nagy, chairman of the Collision Operations Committee’s Crash Parts subcommittee, talked about the group’s busy year, which has included events and discussions with the Taiwanese Auto Body Parts Association, the Quality Parts Coalition, LKQ/Keystone and a tour of a Certified Auto Parts Association (CAPA) testing facility.
Robbie Addison, ASA Mechanical Division manager, outlined the Mechanical Division Operations Committee’s accomplishments in 2009, including the completion of educational materials for professionals and consumers that discuss extended service plans (ESPs). The ESP guidelines for professionals are available to ASA members for free download in the Members Only section of the ASA Web site, www.ASAshop.org. The educational materials for consumers are available free of charge to consumers on the ASA Web site, on the News section’s Additional Resources page.
Addison also announced that the Education and Training subcommittee was redesigning its educational outreach materials and looking at ways to provide it to students, parents, teachers and school counselors in new media formats, including electronic communications. She also discussed the recently formed Parts Quality subcommittee’s monthly column, “What’s in the Box,” which appears in an online newsletter to ASA members. Written by different members of the subcommittee, “What’s in the Box” provides research data, survey reports and real-world experiences dealing with parts quality issues.
Ron Pyle, ASA president and chief staff executive, spoke about the year of change the industry has experienced, as well as predictions of more change for ASA and its members. Pyle commented that a member assessment from earlier this year provided a great deal of insight into how the association can become better focused on members’ needs.
One specific change, said Pyle, would be to become more active within the industry. “We know we need to be a more vocal advocate for the industry in a number of areas,” he told the audience. “Not the least of which is responsibility to the environment, which is why we have the EPA here this week, and why we had them here last year. We know that the industry has to be responsible, and to some degree, the association for leading the industry down that path. We cannot take a passive role; we have to take an active role.”
Pyle also discussed the positive impact the adoption of industry standards could have on both collision and mechanical shops. “There is a definite need in our industry for standards of all types,” he commented. “But just for a consumer to be able to recognize a shop that has met some minimum criteria for equipping and training itself, and for adopting a set of ethical practices, that will give them confidence they are going to the right place to have their cars repaired. It doesn’t exist now, and we believe it is necessary.”
To learn more about ASA’s dedication to service and repair professionals, the benefits of membership and how to join, visit www.ASAshop.org or call (800) 272-7467, ext. 295.