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I-CAR Reveals Five-Year Plan at Annual Conference

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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.

I-CAR characterized 2011 as the "year of
opportunity" at its annual conference held July 20 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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Attendees of the high-energy affair were greeted by
fist-pumping music as soon as they entered the meeting room at 7:30 a.m.

I-CAR Chairperson Elise Quadrozzi kicked off the agenda
by rehashing some of I-CAR’s recent history to demonstrate that the
organization has gotten back on its feet after some difficult times.

Quadrozzi spoke of the challenges I-CAR faced from
2007-2009, citing that the organization had been too internally focused, had
not been listening to the customer and had a lack of strategic business
planning.

From 2009-2010, I-CAR went about "shoring up a shaky
foundation" by creating benchmarks, implementing audits and overhauling
its training program and reintroducing it as the new performance-focused I-CAR
Professional Development Program.

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Quadrozzi then outlined I-CAR’s five-year outlook
consisting of market research, a new learning management platform, and continued
customer input, brand awareness and marketing.

Breaking Records

Next up was John Van Alstyne, CEO and president of I-CAR,
who demonstrated proof that I-CAR had turned things around after a record year
in 2010 when the organization recorded 140,000-plus student "units,"
or individuals who had registered for an I-CAR course. This was a gain of 40 percent over 2009 and resulted in
$21 million in revenue.

Van Alstyne also said that, as the result of a
partnership with Allstate, I-CAR was able to double its Gold Class shop count.

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"Our strong earnings allowed us to reinvest in
ourselves, investing in a learning management system and going after
growth-related initiatives," said Van Alstyne.

Priorities he said I-CAR was focusing on in 2011 are:

• Professional Development Program

• Live and online courses

• Improving class availability

• Education curriculum

• Market segment focus

• Marketing effectiveness

• Learning management system

• Workforce planning

• Financial performance

Van Alstyne also noted that I-CAR was 70,000 students
ahead of plan so far in 2011, and mentioned these other statistics:

• 450-plus instructors

• 4,500-plus Gold Class businesses

• 1,400 volunteers

• 234 active committees

"I-CAR will be the leader in research, development
and delivery of quality, convenient and cost-effective education programs for
the collision industry," Van Alstyne said.

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All About Learning

Dr. Peter Senge then took the stage as the keynote
speaker, discussing the basic principles of learning. Senge is a senior lecturer
at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, author of "The Fifth
Discipline: the Art and Practice of the Learning Organization," and was
named as one of the 24 people who had the greatest influence on business
strategy over the last 100 years.

Some of the intellectual tidbits he offered were:

• Growth of people is good but not for its own sake.

• Learners learn what learners want to learn.

• You want to know what I know? See what I can do.

• All learning is about context – you need to produce
results in the setting that matters.

• Individual learning is ultimately irrelevant – it’s group
learning that’s valuable.

• A team by definition is composed of very different people
who have respect for each other.

• Being a manager is about being in control – people are
reticent to talk about their problems with their boss unless they’ve solved
them.

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• Management by nature is hierarchical, and that’s okay.

• Hierarchy is not wrong and "fist thumpers"
aren’t wrong – the strongest enthusiasts really care about outcomes.

• Profit for a company is like oxygen for a person – if you
don’t have enough of it, you’re out of the game. But if you think your purpose
is breathing, you probably missed something.

• Want a mediocre business? Think that business is about
making money. That belief doesn’t inspire people that much, which is why it
doesn’t work.

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• Show me one person who tells their kid how much money
they made today. But they will tell them something they did that they’re proud
of.

• When people can see their roles in the context of a
larger system, that’s when companies really start to develop.

• You can’t explain how you do things in symbols and
letters.

• Are you in an environment where you feel it’s okay to
make mistakes? Mistakes are how we learn.

• The next time you screw up, that’s how you build trust.
Can you discuss solutions without finger pointing?

Back to School

Bill Stage, I-CAR’s director of marketing and
distribution, talked about the organization’s effort to come up with
"enchanced curriculum solutions" for collision repair educators.
I-CAR reached out to instructors and repairers to find out what their needs
are, and instructors said they need:

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• Relevant course content

• Alignment to I-CAR’s Professional Development Program

• Recognition for achievement

Repairers said they need:

• Graduates with a basic understanding of collision repair

• Validation of a graduate’s skills

• Focus on non-structural technician and refinish
technician

• To hire people who could begin work immediately on day
one

As a result of these needs, Stage said I-CAR came up with
a new curriculum suite for collision repair educators set to launch in the
2012-2013 academic year. One course offering covers the fundamentals of
collision repair that covers the kinds of things shops don’t have time to
teach: how to work a hammer, disposal of waste, vehicle nomenclature, personal
safety, tools and equipment, and paint materials.

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This "education edition" of the Professional
Development Program would allow students to graduate at I-CAR Pro Level One.
The package would include:

• Fundamentals of collision curriculum

• Professional Development Program role-specific curriculum

• Instructor qualification

• Student career tracker

• I-CAR recognition

• Instructor tools and support

Instructors would get:

• How-to manual

• Classroom shop hours

• Student handouts

• Activitives and demonstrations

• Objective worksheets

• Quizzes and course tests

• End-of-program exam

• Welding qualification

There will also be a Pro Level performance evaluator that
will allow teachers to evaluate the skill sets of students, and those
evaluations would be made available to schools, instructors and potential
employers.

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Education for the Future

Scott Kruger, executive director of the Collision Repair
Education Foundation, re-emphasized the mission of the foundation: "To
secure donations that support philanthropic and collision repair education
activities that promote and enhance career opportunities in the industry."

He cited statistics on organizations offering collision
repair education today:

• 70 percent of high schools offer this education

• 83 percent are NATEF certified and/or are part of the
I-CAR Academic Alliance

• 90 percent offer a degree, certificate, NATEF or NOCTI
testing upon completion of the coursework

• More than 800 hours of class time logged

"We need the engagement of everybody to achieve our
goals," Kruger said. "We need to teach these students skills and how
to do it fast. Career preparation is breaking down the barriers to getting
these kids the money to get the education they need."Collision Repair Education Foundation Executive Director Scott Kruger.i-car chairperson elise quadrozzi.i-car ceo and president john van alstyne.keynote speaker dr. peter senge.I-CAR Director of Marketing and Distribution Bill Stage.

 

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