Go to Grow

How this year’s MSO Symposium at NACE | Automechanika Chicago can help you keep up in the rapidly evolving collision repair marketplace.

Multiple collision repair shop operators and large, single-location collision repairers who want to grow their businesses have an opportunity to network and learn about the hottest issues facing the industry at the MSO Symposium in July. The Automotive Service Association (ASA) will present the sixth annual MSO Symposium on Wednesday, July 26, during NACE | Automechanika Chicago.

This year’s event, taking place from noon-5:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place hotel, will include an industry update report on current repair facility size and capacity trends, as well as insurance and OEM panel discussions about repairability issues of concerns to both segments.

“The Symposium provides a unique opportunity for MSOs and the largest independent operators to gather and discuss collision repair industry trends, as well as issues that are impacting their business now or in the near future,” says Dan Risley, ASA president and executive director. “Learning and networking with their peers provides an opportunity to understand today’s collision repair marketplace and how it is evolving.”

The MSO Symposium also will feature two separate panels featuring executives from small, midsize and larger MSOs who will address in-house and outsource training, recruitment, retention, best practices for pre- and post-repair diagnostic scanning, vehicle technology, OE certification and more.

The event will open at noon with a private luncheon for attendees. The Symposium education program will run from 1-5:30 p.m. and will be followed by a reception from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

A staple of the NACE trade show since 2011, this year’s event provides the opportunity to learn from the most progressive business people in the industry on current issues identified by their peers on the MSO Symposium Advisory Board. The 2017 MSO Symposium board is chaired by Paul Gange, president and COO of Fix Auto USA, and includes more than 20 representatives of repair organizations, business advisers and industry experts. Gange will serve as master of ceremonies for this year’s event.

Marcy Tieger, of Symphony Advisors, is a familiar face to MSO Symposium participants and member of the advisory board. Tieger, along with her late husband, Matt Ohrnstein, developed and organized the inaugural MSO Symposium in conjunction with ASA in October 2011 at the NACE show in Orlando, Fla.

This year, Tieger will moderate both a panel of insurance company executives and a panel of vehicle manufacturers. Each of the panels will discuss the developing gap between car manufacturers and insurers on topics such as recommended repair procedures, vehicle scanning, telematics and repairability.

“Our vision was to create a forum that offered high-level content viewed exclusively through the eyes of the MSO, as well as networking opportunities among the MSO community,” Tieger explains. “Although vendors are invaluable partners to repairers, sometimes even subsidizing growth, we wanted to make sure that they didn’t dominate the room. As such, and to the credit of ASA, the number of non-repairers in attendance is limited to ensure that the event remains repairer-centric.

The first event was designed to accommodate just 100 people. However, it has grown each year since its inception to more than 400 people participating last year in Anaheim, Calif. The growth is no surprise to Tieger, who believes content drives attendance.

“It brings together like-minded people who have experienced both the upside and tribulations of growth. Whether the discussion is about growing to seven locations or 70, many of the same issues resonate across the MSO community,” Tieger says. “Topics like financing growth, infrastructure and finding and keeping great people to fill new locations are shared concerns. My observation is that many learn just as much about what to do to support growth as they do about the land mines to avoid. All good things.”

Mike LeVasseur, the director of corporate development for ABRA Auto Body & Glass and a member of the ASA Collision Division Operations Committee, agrees that the symposium provides an environment conducive to building the understanding necessary to thrive in today’s collision repair market. He served as master of ceremonies for the event in 2015 and 2016.

“Insurers, operators, consultants, vendors, etc. are relaxed with the format and offer better insight when discussing topics,” LeVasseur says.

Although the MSO Symposium is a closed meeting, executives representing MSOs, along with multi-location and single-location collision repair executives from businesses with more than $2 million in annual revenue, are invited to attend. The event is also open to property and casualty insurance company executives.

“More recently, ASA expanded the criteria for those who could attend to include not just multiple-store operators, but single-location operators in excess of $2 million in annual revenue,” says Tieger. “Because today’s hungry, single-store operator and smaller MSOs are tomorrow’s regional players, this was a very smart decision.”

For LeVasseur, the reason MSOs and large-shop operators should attend the event is simple, noting, “It’s the most information dedicated to the MSO issues that you can get in such a short period of time.”

MSO Symposium Agenda

Noon-1 p.m. – Luncheon
1-1:30 p.m. – Industry Update – presented by Vincent Romans, Brian Sullivan
1:30-2:15 p.m. – Insurer Panel – moderated by Marcy Tieger, the panel will address the developing gap between car manufacturers and insurers as recommended repair procedures, vehicle scanning, onboard telematics and repairability take center stage.
2:15-3 p.m. – OE Panel – moderated by Marcy Tieger, this panel will provide a perspective from the manufacturer’s standpoint of recommended repair procedures, vehicle scanning and new technology.
3:00-3:30 p.m. – Refreshment Break, sponsored by BASF
3:30-4:10 p.m. – MSO Panel – moderated by John Walcher, this panel will address challenges facing MSOs, including technology, scan tools, equipment, supplier consolidation and staffing.
4:10-4:50 p.m. – MSO Panel II – this panel will cover OE certification and training, with leadership representing small, midsize and large MSOs.
4:50-5:30 p.m. – Legislation and Regulation – Robert L. Redding Jr. will discuss how the new administration will affect business for the collision repair industry and insurers, as well as which legislation will have the greatest impact on business.
5:30-7 p.m. – Private MSO Symposium Reception, sponsored by PPG