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The newly formed Auto Body Association of Texas (ABAT) held its third meeting on Aug. 29, continuing its goal of bringing together members of the Texas collision repair industry. Attendees at the meeting included repairers from several large and well-recognized Dallas-area collision repair centers as well as others from North Texas who drove in excess of two hours each way to attend.
Burl Richards, ABAT’s acting president, and other founding members discussed the advantages of collision industry members coming together as colleagues and the many benefits of doing so through ABAT.
“The turn-outs have been great,” said Richards. “We’re further encouraged at each meeting as more and more shop owners and managers are attending and even traveling long distances. More and more shops are asking for meeting in their area.
“There’s a thirst for the knowledge that’s being shared and, perhaps even more important, there’s a hunger for the industry members to assemble and know they’re not the ‘only ones’ who face the numerous challenges this industry offers. This association is only a few months old and we’ve seen phenomenal growth, and it’s all from word of mouth. Repairers are actually reaching out to others in their market areas, saying, ‘C’mon y’all, let’s get together and make our industry better!
“During these meetings, we explained the mission statement of ABAT and why we felt the need to start such an association. We discussed issues such as the ‘spot within panel’ calculator, among other procedural and educational information. We’re discussing the possibility of having a truly independent survey conducted in regards to the ‘prevailing competitive practices’ and pricing ‘PCP.'”
Added Chad Neal, owner of Paint Works, one of ABAT’s founding members, “Each ABAT meeting begins with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer; we learned this from Barrett Smith [of Auto Damage Experts] during his recent presentation to ABAT members. The attendees seem to really enjoy this, and it really sets the stage for some open and down-to-earth conversation. Of course, we make a statement regarding antitrust and what can and can’t be discussed. There’s a great deal more that can be discussed than the few restrictions on what shouldn’t be. The goal is to overcome long-time misunderstandings and unnecessary fears and to spark a much-needed dialogue within the repair community.”
ABAT membership is growing rapidly as more shops are sending in their applications and dues. Inquiries from across Texas are coming in from shops wanting to learn more about the association and how to get a meeting in their area.
One well-known Texas shop owner remarked: “I believe this association has teeth, and we need to get on board.”
If you’re a Texas repairer or manufacturer-vendor supporter and would like to learn more about ABAT, contact Burl Richards at (903) 657-8082 or [email protected].