Industry Members and Attorneys Discuss PartsTrader Rollout at NORTHEAST Show - BodyShop Business

Industry Members and Attorneys Discuss PartsTrader Rollout at NORTHEAST Show

Five-person panel met with showgoers to address questions and concerns about the program's impact on shops at both the state and national level.

(from left to right) Barry Dorn, Ed Kizenberger, Tom Elder, Mitch Portnoi and Joshua Bauchner.A panel consisting of industry members and attorneys met with NORTHEAST Show attendees Friday, March 21 to discuss the rollout of PartsTrader in New Jersey and its impact on collision repairers throughout the state and country. The meeting took place at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, N.J.

Panelists included Barry Dorn, Washington Metropolitan Auto Body Association (WMABA) past president and SCRS past chairman; Ed Kizenberger, executive director for the New York State Auto Collision Technicians Association (NYSACTA) and Long Island Auto Body Repairmen’s Association (LIABRA); Tom Elder, president of Auto Body Distributing; Mitch Portnoi, attorney at PPGMS; and Joshua Bauchner, attorney at Ansell, Grimm and Aaron. They addressed questions and concerns from collision repairers in the room, including delays in part delivery, difficulty returning parts and the “ulterior motive” of State Farm.  

“The underlying motive is that someone is trying to control the way you do business,” said Bauchner.

Added Dorn, “[State Farm] believes they can control the flow of repair, what gets returned and what gets put on the car. The problem is when you walk with people with zero credibility, you lose your credibility.”

According to the panel, although independent shops do not have to partake in the State Farm/PartsTrader program, they too will eventually be impacted.

“The independent shop is going to inherit the bad behavior of a select few,” said Kizenberger.

The general consensus from both panelists and showgoers was that PartsTrader and similar programs are stepping in between shops and vendors, disrupting their relationship. Elder explained that the goal of PartsTrader is to get the lowest price for a part, and if the price gets low enough, the MSRP will be adjusted.

“Almost without exception, every dealer in our cooperation joined PartsTrader, and that concerns me,” he said. “Without Auto Body Distributing, a lot of people in New Jersey would have had to pay a lot more for parts.”

But perhaps the biggest question in the room was, “How does this program, in addition to other insurer-mandated parts procurement platforms, impact consumers?”

“What only you can claim and [the insurers] can’t is that these programs compromise safety and quality for the consumer. That’s what we need to focus on,” said Bauchner.

At one point, the panel asked the room if anyone present thought PartsTrader was a good thing. Not one person replied or raised their hand. One attendee asked Dorn if the program has been good for his business, to which Dorn said, “No.”

John Mosley, the Mississippi shop owner who recently filed an injunction against PartsTrader along with other repairers in his state, was in attendance with his attorney, John Eaves, Jr.

“When did we become an industry of cowards?” he asked.

Another attendee asked for legal advice on how best to combat the program. Bauchner explained that shop owners should align with consumer groups and get their voices heard by Congress by explaining that these programs kill competition and small businesses.

“Until it becomes an issue, they’re not going to pay attention,” he said.

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