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Chi-cago, Chi-cago!

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Jason Stahl has 28 years of experience as an editor, and has been editor of BodyShop Business for the past 16 years. He currently is a gold pin member of the Collision Industry Conference. Jason, who hails from Cleveland, Ohio, earned a bachelor of arts degree in English from John Carroll University and started his career in journalism at a weekly newspaper, doing everything from delivering newspapers to selling advertising space to writing articles.

How does the song go? “Chi-cago, Chi-cago, that toddlin’ town…”

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Judging from the response so far to the 2011 BodyShop Business Conference & Trade Show – Strategies for Success, it seems that people are just as excited as I am that this year’s event is in Chicago – St. Charles, Ill., to be specific.
One of the last times I was in Chicago was when I visited a friend who was enrolled at Columbia College. I recall riding the “L” and making friends with his roommate’s pet ferret. That was a long time ago.

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It seems like every one of my friends in Cleveland always wanted to move to a “real city” like Chicago – and some did! They felt like that was where the action was.

That’s where the action is going to be on May 5, I can tell you that. There hasn’t been a collision event in Chicago in some time, which I think is why sponsors, exhibitors and attendees have so far been jumping at the opportunity to be a part of our conference this year. With all the neat stuff we’re going to have at the conference, holding it in the Windy City is just icing on the cake.

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I think our educational offering will support our “Strategies for Success” theme this year. We’re going to have several sessions on low-VOC/waterborne paint because the industry is still in dire need of information on this sweeping change. Experts say only 10 percent of the industry has converted so far. Many repairers are still fearful of the change or still swapping misinformation, but the fact is those shops that have converted have seen better coverage and color match and no negative impact on production. Plus, they’ve been able to market themselves as “environmentally friendly” to a customer base with growing concerns about our planet.

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Attorney Erica Eversman will be presenting on your legal rights and what the industry should take away from shop owner Greg Coccaro’s victory over Progressive. Other sessions will cover sales/marketing, social media and search engine optimization, the 6H Rule, lean concepts and insurer relations.

For the first time ever, we’ll be making the trade show portion of our conference FREE to all Chicago-area collision repair facilities. We’ve already got 24 exhibitors ready to show all the latest and greatest technology you need to fix today’s “rocketships.”

The latest development regarding the trade show is that we’ve managed to secure a unique Virtual Paint training station hosted by the Iowa Waste Reduction Center where repairers can see who’s got the right stuff when it comes to auto refinishing.

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Did I mention that the conference will take place at the beautiful Pheasant Run Resort? If you’re a golfer, this is the place to be. It features an 18-hole championship golf course and a state-of-the-art practice center with 50 grass hitting stations, putting and short game areas, and instructional facilities. Other attractions at the resort include a performance

theatre, comedy club, spa and salon, and an indoor replica of Bourbon Street featuring live music, shopping and entertainment. Within a stone’s throw of the resort is riverboat gambling, paddlewheel riverboat cruises and the Fox River Trail, which features 32 miles of biking, hiking and cross-country skiing along the scenic Fox River.

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See you there!

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