AASP/NJ Reconnects at Annual Meeting
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AASP/NJ Reconnects at Annual Meeting

The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey (AASP/NJ) held its annual meeting on Oct. 20 at Gran Centurions in Clark, N.J., featuring its board of directors election, a special awards ceremony where longtime members were honored and an education session delivered by Neal Bobzin and Craig Stevens of CCC.

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AASP/NJ’s Board of Directors: Seated (L to R): Dave Laganella, Sam Mikhail, Charles Bryant. Standing (L to R): Keith Krehel, Brad Crawford, Gary Gardella Jr., Anthony Trama, Dennis Cataldo, Ted Rainer, Ken Miller, Jerry McNee, Tom Elder, Jeff McDowell. (Not pictured: Joe Amato Sr., Tom Greco, Mike Kaufmann)

Re-elected Executive Board members include:

  • Jerry McNee (Ultimate Collision; Edison), president
  • Dennis Cataldo, Jr. (D&M Auto Body; Old Bridge), collision chairman
  • Keith Krehel (Krehel Automotive Repair, Inc.; Clifton), mechanical chairman
  • Tom Elder (Compact Kars, Inc.; Clarksburg), treasurer
  • Tom Greco (Thomas Greco Publishing; Nutley), secretary

Board member Dave Laganella (Peters Body & Fender; Oakland) will return for another term, and the board welcomed a new member: Ken Miller (821 Collision; North Haledon).


During the special awards ceremony, Tom Elder and Luci Robson presented the Russ Robson Scholarship Award to Gavin Danitz (Compact Kars; Clarksburg). The Stan Wilson/New Jersey Automotive Body Shop of the Year Award went to Dennis Cataldo, Jr. of D&M Auto Body in Old Bridge, and Tom Elder was the recipient of the Lee Vetland Lifetime Achievement Award. Alicia Figurelli, senior vice president of Thomas Greco Publishing, became the second woman to be inducted into the AASP/NJ Hall of Fame.

After Nicole Lewicki of the Amato Insurance Agency (a division of World Insurance) shared a brief update on the AASP/NJ health insurance plan, Bobzin and Stevens took the floor to discuss how ELEVATE by CCC helps shops set goals, monitor trends and make decisions to improve their businesses.


“When I ask a new client, what’s your goal, they don’t tell me ‘to survive,’” said Bobzin. “The goal isn’t to remain flat – they’re looking to grow, or they’re looking to become more attractive for sale. Those higher-level goals need to be broken down into the details, and then your employees need to understand the relationship between these particular goals and their responsibilities within the department.”

In terms of industry trends, Bobzin honed in on decreasing sales opportunities, vendor delays, staff shortages, CSI decreases and ramping up for a return to normalcy. Exploring the most beneficial ways to market to modern customers, Stevens asked, “You guys deserve the same attention that any other industry gets, so why shouldn’t you have the same tools that any other industry gets?”


When discussing vendor delays, Stevens suggested, “The more robust your network of suppliers, the better, and the more you can expand it, the more visibility you’ll have into your market.”

Bobzin broached the importance of supporting local vo-tech schools as he discussed the ongoing staff shortage, but he also pointed out the importance of developing internal talent: “Invest in your people!”

The most important factors in improving CSI include understanding your customer base and keeping them informed, according to Bobzin. “Simple changes can positively influence CSI,” he said.

“It’s important to find out what’s important to your customer,” Stevens added. “Ask your customer what they like best about their car, and then spend an extra minute making sure that works properly for them when they pick their car up.”


The topic of returning to normalcy included the need to dig deeper into cycle time analysis and finding the balance in triage.

“It’s amazing what you all do every day,” Stevens concluded. “I respect that, and I think that, as an industry, you deserve that respect. You’re putting people back in their cars and putting them on the road – that’s a pretty big deal. And we’d love to help you leverage the use of the tools in the products you’re already using.”

For more information on AASP/NJ, visit aaspnj.org.

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