Striding Toward Unity - BodyShop Business

Striding Toward Unity

Editor Jason Stahl interviews the top executives at each of the industry’s major shop-owner associations.


Back in the June issue,
I proposed that this magazine dive deep into the issues, challenges, circumstances and concerns of our industry via a four-part Industry Unity article series. In this month’s issue, the first of this four-part series begins. To kick off the Industry Unity series, BodyShop Business Editor Jason Stahl interviewed the top executives at each of the industry’s major shop-owner associations. A commonsense question that any casual observer of our industry might ask is, “Why are there (at least) four separate associations to represent you?” Thus, the goal of achieving some level of unity begins.

As you read through each of these leaders’ comments, you’ll find many points of commonality across many issues. But you’ll also find points of conflicting thoughts and agendas, and different perspectives. As we move through the Industry Unity series, please be mindful that our goal is not to direct or dictate the changes that may need to take place, but rather to present the entities, people and issues where industry attention should be focused in an effort to enable those changes, whatever you decide they need to be, to take place. In essence, we’re preparing the vehicle for your paint job!

The climate in the market has been hot and sticky for a couple of years now, with everyone “sensing” the impending fallout. Beyond DRP frustrations lies the real source of concern: not enough vehicles in need of repair and too many shops to repair them. The associations agree with this supply and demand inequality, and thus realize that their own futures are at risk as the number of shops in operation continues to decline. This makes for very interesting reading, and I want to thank Dan Risley, Darrell Amberson, Tony Lombardozzi and Nick Kostakis for their time, effort and candidness in support of our “unity” effort and, more importantly, in support of their associations and their industry.

Industry associations are the heartbeat of any industry. In representing their membership, they’re the bellwether for the general “mood” of the market, and they provide the means for the market’s social network and consensus. Many working friendships and relationships are formed via association activity and committee work and, in general, they tend to deliver great value to their members, if those members are engaged and work to take advantage of all that’s offered. However, when associations don’t deliver value or are perceived to be moving in a direction that concerns the majority of their membership, or perhaps a few “power brokers” within the group, then factions can form and divides can grow fast and vast. Alternate associations or coalitions can form, and the industry becomes more fragmented by thought (not, necessarily, by action or function). This “thought” fragmentation can be dangerous, inefficient and overwhelmingly unproductive, thus leaving many members and the industry in general vulnerable to outside influences, broader profit motives and unfavorable government policies and
regulations.

For an industry of our size, I don’t feel that four separate associations are necessary. To me, it’s redundant, fragmented, inefficient and unproductive. However, it’s up to you to decide for yourselves whether industry association consolidation needs to or should take place. Welcome to Part 1 of our Industry Unity series. We hope you enjoy all four parts and find them to be thought-provoking, action-provoking and
beneficial.

Jon S.Owens,
Publisher

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