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New ASA Executive Vice President Talks PartsTrader, Other Challenges Facing Industry

Former SCRS Executive Director Dan Risley says numerous roles over 24-year collision career will help him in his new job.

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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.

Just 24 hours at his new job as executive vice president of the Automotive Service Association (ASA), Dan Risley spoke to reporters on what he hopes to accomplish in his new position and the challenges that face the automotive industry – specifically collision.

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In a 24-year career working for CCC Information Services, BASF, the Society of Collision Repair Specialists and Allstate, Risley believes it’s the last six he spent with the latter that may help him the most in his new position with ASA.

“That gave me a completely different perspective than what I had in previous roles,” said Risley. “I think every one of those roles I held was a building block to help me lead or represent ASA, but by virtue of my role with Allstate being the most recent one, the background information and insight I got from the insurer perspective will certainly help me in understanding what motivates them. And as our members look to work with insurers – because whether you’re a DRP or a non-DRP, you’re going to be working with insurers – it will help us bridge some of those gaps that are out there.”

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Risley feels that one of his strengths is helping to bring diverse groups together that have different objectives and opinions and coming up with a solution that can be a win for all.

“Whether you’re an independent or MSO, there are some very broad-based issues that adversely impact each and every one of those folks. Being able to not only understand what those issues are but, more importantly, find a way to take some action that will help improve that situation by working together with all industry facets is critical,” Risley said. “You have to try to not be adversarial but find a way to get common ground. We may not be able to get everything we want, and they may not get everything they want, but somewhere in the middle we will get something everyone can live with.”

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Risley said that his top priority is to address NACE and ASRW, get fully engaged with the industry, and improve membership growth and retention.

“We need to make sure we’re not only listening to our members but responding to what their needs are,” he said. “Thus far, the team has done an admirable job of that. I look to build upon that, and going to the April CIC meeting will give me some exposure to what some of those concerns are. I have some cursory knowledge of that, but having been removed from the past six years, it is just cursory knowledge. So I’m looking forward to getting more ingrained and in-tune with the industry.”

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When PartsTrader was brought up, Risley complimented ASA on the job it has done so far in educating the industry on the facts about the parts procurement program. But he also offered his personal opinion.

“You’re not going to get rid of PartsTrader or the advancements in technology,” Risley said. “If PartsTrader were to go away tomorrow because State Farm decided they no longer wanted to pilot it or they didn’t feel it was providing value, there will definitely be another one. Some other insurer or vendor will come into that space because, conceptually, there are probably some efficiencies to be gained there – and, by the way, there are cost savings to the insurers as well. But it’s not going away. It’s not illegal, so that’s why they’re able to do what they’re doing.

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“As of right now, probably the best thing we can do is educate ourselves and stay closely tied to those groups so we can share with them our concerns and hopefully shift and change the direction they’re headed.”

Ron Pyle, president of ASA who also participated in the press conference, added that ASA strives to provide more “light” when it comes to controversial topics like PartsTrader, not generate more heat.

“I know PartsTrader is an issue that has stirred up a lot of emotions, but in reality what we’re hearing now is that a lot of folks are beginning to realize that, in some cases, there are actual benefits to them,” said Pyle. “Obviously, some folks don’t like the interjection of other parties into their business model, so that will continue to be controversial. But I don’t really believe the industry should devote so much of their attention to something that really is just an advancement in technology and a different business model. It’s not as important as some of the other major issues we need to really have our eyes on.”

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Risley added that it’s important for ASA to maintain the same approach it has with PartsTrader of “flushing out” the facts so that they can maintain dialogue with them.

“If there are areas where improvement needs to be made or change needs to be done, we’re going to be in the room to have those conversations, and to me and Ron and our team, that is far more important than sending out a press release saying we have dispelled the use of PartsTrader,” he said. “We can certainly do that, and I’m sure a lot of people would probably want to hear that, but that doesn’t get us any closer to bridging any potential gaps we have an opportunity to bridge. If we were posturing ourselves that way, we certainly wouldn’t be allowed in the room to have those conversations and express ourselves in a professional manner.

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“At the end of the day, the one thing everyone who doesn’t like PartsTrader has is a choice: yes, I want to participate, or no, I don’t. Nobody is forcing them to do that.”

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