Chuck Sulkala, founder, first president and executive director of the National Auto Body Council (NABC), has announced his retirement today, Jan. 3rd, effective the end of 2017.
During Sulkala’s tenure over the past 22 years, the NABC has become the leading voice to highlight the professionalism and integrity of the collision repair industry through community service involvement.
“I am humbled to have been a part of the National Auto Body Council history,” said Sulkala. “It is incredible to think that this started out as a conversation with Tim Rooney, formerly with I-CAR, and Scott Biggs, with Body Shop Video at the time. It is amazing to see how it has now become a powerful force in improving the image of the collision repair industry. I will miss working with my colleagues and the NABC board to continuously improve the state of the entire collision repair industry.
“After 50 years in this industry, I am also hoping to enjoy what life has to offer. I’m looking forward to spending some more quality time with my wife, Linda, although she will still be involved with the Recycled Rides program, but with six children and nine grandchildren, frankly I would like to also try and make up for all the many nights and hours away from all of them as well. Of course, I am also looking for more time to enjoy our second home in Maine with both family and industry friends as well.”
Under Sulkala’s leadership, NABC’s member network of collision industry companies and professionals have united to collaborate on community service programs that help change and save thousands of lives across the country. These include:
- Introduction of NABC’s Recycled Rides program in 2007, which has resulted in nearly 1,300 vehicles valued at $17 million donated to individuals and service organizations in need of reliable transportation.
- The First Responder Emergency Extrication (FREE) program, which provides invaluable opportunities for first responders to practice life-saving skills on complex, late-model vehicles.
- Partnering as a business advocate with AT&T’s It Can Wait campaign to focus awareness of the dangers of texting while driving through the Distracted Driving Initiative.
- Exponential membership growth, with more than 2,000 shop locations, numerous insurers and vendors representing all facets of the collision industry.
Other accomplishments since NABC was founded in 1994 include:
- Fundraising support for Ronald McDonald Foundation and Ronald McDonald Houses across the country.
- A “Leave Behind Program” where the collision industry at every Collision Industry Conference (CIC) meeting would take a collection and give the funds to a local children’s hospital.
- Raised over $60,000, along with manpower from the collision industry during a CIC week in Kansas City to build a house for Habitat for Humanity.
- Raised over $625,000 for Camp Mak-a-Dream in Montana, which provides a cost-free, medically supervised camping experience for children with cancer. Funds were used to build a health center named after the collision industry and to purchase a new, handicap-accessible bus.
“We will certainly miss Chuck at the National Auto Body Council, but his legacy will live on through the solid foundation he built for this wonderful organization,” said Domenic Brusco, senior manager for industry involvement at PPG Automotive Refinish and NABC chairman.
Added Nick Notte, immediate past chairman of the NABC, “Chuck’s upcoming retirement marks the end of a dynasty. All of us who have been fortunate enough to work with and get to know Chuck over his five decades in the industry recognize him as the iconic figure that is tough on the outside, but with a warm heart that will melt those snowy Boston winters. I don’t know anyone who has done more for our industry.”