by Lisa McReynolds
ASA's Web and Communications Specialist
The Automotive Service Association (ASA) held its second annual "Celebration of Excellence" event Friday night at The Mirage in Las Vegas. The special awards dinner, which is held annually during Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week, honors the achievements of ASA members and other industry leaders.
George Witt receives the Automotive Management Institute's annual recognition award from John Francis, AAM, AMI chairman.
Ron Pyle, ASA's president and chief staff executive, said, "ASA members are truly dedicated to this industry and its image. Their commitments were illustrated through tonight's various awards. It is a privilege to honor their achievements at our annual Celebration of Excellence event. This events provides a unique opportunity to come together and enjoy an evening designed specifically for them."
The program included a graduation ceremony recognizing those who have earned the Accredited Automotive Manager (AAM) designation by completing 120 AMI credits and a requisite self-study course. This year's graduating class included 150 students, with 50 participating in the graduation ceremony.
The AMI Annual Recognition Award, the highest honor the institute bestows upon an organization or industry leader was presented to George Witt of George Witt Service in Lincoln, Neb. Witt has been heavily involved in the creation of AMI's "Advanced Curriculum." The work he has done on behalf of the Institute demonstrates his dedication to AMI's program and the automotive service industry. He has been an AMI-approved instructor since 1999, served on the AMI Board of Trustees since 2004 and currently holds the vice chair position.
The Chairman's Club Award recognizes ASA members who recruited the most new members. Steve Johnson of Number 1 Tire & Service in Warwick, R.I. was presented with the award for recruiting 10 new members for ASA. While recruiting members for ASA, Steve also serves as the vice president of the ASA-Rhode Island affiliate.
The new Affiliate of the Year award is based upon several factors, such as membership growth, educational events, participation in ASA national programs, legislative activities and overall contributions of their membership to the automotive industry. The award was presented to Luz Rubio from ASA-Arizona.
The Benefit Provider of the Year is presented to an associate member in appreciation of its relationship with ASA and for the price, quality and professional service it offers to ASA members. Traditionally awarded to one program annually, this year three sponsored programs were recognized. The Collision Division Benefit Provider of the Year went to CCC Information Systems. Mary Jo Prigg accepted the award on behalf of CCC. Jeff Lagges and Kerry Keller accepted the award for ALLDATA, the Mechanical Division Benefit Provider of the Year. The ASA Federal Credit Union was presented with the award for services provided to both mechanical and collision members. Lou-Anne Demonstranti accepted the award on their behalf.
The Outstanding Service Award was presented to Bob Poole who is retiring after 20 years of service to ASA and its members. "With high standards for his professional and private life, Bob's work ethic is dependable and he has been a great example for our membership team," said Denny Kahler.
The Alpha Award, which recognizes an ASA Mechanical Division member for their generous and far-reaching contributions to the automotive service industry, was presented to Joan Koebernick of Dakota-K Auto Repair and Tire Center in Arlington Heights, Ill. Joan joined ASA in 1998 and earned her Accredited Automotive Manager (AAM) designation from the Automotive Management Institute (AMI) in 2003. Not only is Joan a business owner, but she is also an accredited AMI instructor conducting classes on business ethics, software management programs and strategic planning.
The Phoenix Award, which recognizes an ASA Collision Division member for his or her contribution to the automotive service industry, was awarded to Myron Hazen, owner of Collision Repair Center (C.R.C) in East Moline, Ill. Hazen has been an ASA member since 1989 and has served on the ASA Collision Division Operations Committee since 2000. He was involved in organizing the ASA-Quad Cities chapter and has held chapter positions of president, vice president and secretary. He is also an original member of the three-state advisory committee for a local salvage yard, providing input on damage analysis, parts delivery and identification, as well as Inter-Industry Conference on Collision Repair (I-CAR).
Myron Mazen, owner of Collision Repair Center in East Moline, Ill., receives this year's Phoenix Award.
The Richard Cossette Memorial Scholarship is presented to an ASA collision repair manager or technician who has strong interest in improving their business management skills. The $500 scholarship award is used to pay the recipient's expenses to attend NACE. Chelsie Jackson, service advisor and manager for Park's Royal Body Works, Inc. of Boise, Idaho, was presented with the scholarship. Jackson has been a service advisor and manager for the last six years. She is ASE-certified and is a graduate of the General Motors Body Service Education Program. She has an Associate of applied Science Degree in Auto Body Collision Repair and is currently working toward a Bachelor of Applied Science Degree in Applied Technology.
The Gale Westerlund Memorial Scholarship was presented to Brett Bailey, general manager for A & B Carstar of Riverside, Kansas City, Mo. The $500 scholarship award is used to pay the recipient's expenses to attend NACE. Bailey is vice president of the Society for Collision Repair Specialist Mo-Kan, and a member of ASA, the national Auto Body Council, the Collision Industry Conference and the Collision Industry Electronic Commerce association. He is ASE-certified and has certification from I-CAR, ADP, CCC and Mitchell.
The Humanitarian Award - ASA's highest honor - recognizes selfless acts, both inside and outside the industry, of those who promote general goodwill. This year, the award was presented to Sheri Hamilton, executive director for the ASA-Missouri/Kansas affiliate. Sheri has exceeded in her efforts to help those in need. Hamilton displays this commitment through her volunteer work with her local Red Cross chapter. She volunteered in Mississippi shortly after Hurricane Katrina. Her character is shown through her leadership and willingness to help.
Sheri Hamilton, executive director of ASA-Missouri/Kansas, receives this year's Humanitarian Award.
The recipient of ASA's Communicator of the Year, which recognizes an ASA member shop for outstanding efforts in using different communication vehicles to promote their businesses in the community and industry, was presented to Accurate Automotive Attention in Yuma, Ariz., owned by Russell McCloud. Through creative TV and radio commercials McCloud not only spotlights his mechanical repair facility, but also his valued employees. The direct mail pieces for the shop were professionally designed and truly cater to the customer, with several promotional pieces offered in Spanish.
The ASA Legislative Award recognizes those who have made an impact on legislative and regulatory activities. The 2005 award was presented to Eddie Ehlert, president and owner of Mazdonly, Ltd. In Chamblee, Ga. Ehlert's commitment to ASA has been demonstrated by taking time out of his busy schedule to make countless trips to Washington D.C. to meet with members of Congress and testify before the U.S. House of Representatives Small Business Subcommittee on Workforce, Empowerment and Government Programs.
The Chairman's Award of Excellence recognizes individuals for their outstanding contributions to ASA and the automotive repair industry. This year, the award was presented to Brent Black, founder of the International Automotive Technicians' Network (iATN). Ten years ago, Black created a powerful and recognizable networking tool for automotive service professionals. Once a 50-member e-mail group, iATN now has 45,000 automotive service technicians creating the largest online community of its kind.
After-dinner entertainment at the event was provided by popular Las Vegas showman Art Vargas and his band the "The Swank Set." They performed a variety of "vintage hits" in the style of a number of legendary Las Vegas performers.