Abra, CARSTAR and Fix Auto USA franchise partners gathered in Florida from Thursday, Sept. 28 through Saturday, Sept. 30 as Driven Brands kicked off the inaugural Driven Brands U.S. collision repair joint conference with Driven Brands team members, vendors and industry leaders from across the U.S.
The Evolution 2023 conference was held at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Kissimmee, Fla. The conference featured two days of education, thought-provoking discussions and networking opportunities capped off with a Fenders and Fairways charity golf event.
Before the conference got underway, three Orlando-area women and their families experienced a life-changing event: the presentation of reliable transportation to help them get to work, school and family activities. Through the National Auto Body Council (NABC) Recycled Rides program, GEICO donated all three vehicles, CARSTAR Collimotive Center refurbished two of them and CARSTAR Superior Auto Body refurbished one. Jerry’s Abra in Mankato and Fix Auto Fort Myers helped stuff the trunks with much-needed items and gift cards for the recipients and their families. The NABC has had a long partnership with CARSTAR, Abra and Fix Auto USA, collectively presenting more than 225 NABC Recycled Rides vehicles to military members, veterans and families in need.
Franchise partners, team members and guests kicked off the festivities with brand-specific cocktail receptions for CARSTAR, Fix Auto USA and Abra. Following the cocktail welcome receptions, the conference officially opened as Hannah Whitesides, senior vice president of P&C marketing at Driven Brands, served as emcee, and Driven Brands collision repair leaders Sabrina Thring and Damien Reyna took the stage to share their outlook for the collision repair network and the year ahead.
“There are three critical pillars for us to have a common vision and common goal: profitability, excellence and growth,” said Thring. “We have the collective power to continue driving this industry forward. We are in the best position to influence the changes in the field and, by uniting our forces, we will continue to blaze trails in the collision repair industry space.”
Reyna shared his outlook on how CARSTAR, Abra and Fix Auto USA can continue to move forward and navigate this ever-changing industry.
“While we are making great headway on many areas of our performance, there are still several opportunities for improvement across the network,” Reyna said. “We’re confident that, working together, we can meet and exceed our goals for the remainder of the year, maintaining our position as America’s leaders in collision repair.”
The mainstage presentations were closed out for the night with a keynote address from Jon Acuff, a New York Times bestselling author of eight books, including his most recent, “Soundtracks, The Surprising Solution to Overthinking.” When he’s not writing, Acuff can be found on stage as a leadership speaker.
Acuff’s message for the audience was facing the inevitability of change and the dilemma of pivot or panic. His story of refocusing, rebuilding and relaunching to better serve the community was a motivating message for everyone.
Following the conclusion of the opening ceremony, guests celebrated at the opening night party that featured whiskey tasting, cigar rolling, axe throwing, a live jazz band and more. A charity dunk tank featuring Driven Brands Collision Group vice presidents and a 50/50 raffle helped raise more than $6,000 during the evening for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Friday’s events featured:
- Keynote speaker Matt Mayberry, a retired Chicago Bears linebacker and an internationally acclaimed keynote speaker and one of the world’s foremost thought leaders on leadership development and culture
- An OE panel focused on the current and future state of electric vehicles led by Dirk Fuchs and featuring panelists from Nissan, Lucid and Rivian
- Presentations on marketing and DrivenAdvantage
- Breakout sessions for franchise partners
There was also a vendor trade show in the afternoon followed by an awards gala that evening.