The Washington Metropolitan Auto Body Association (WMABA) celebrated its 50-year anniversary with a membership dinner on Dec. 13 and a special surprise: WMABA President Torchy Chandler being awarded the Society of Collision Repair Specialists’ Regional Lifetime Achievement Award. Held at the association’s former stomping grounds of P.J. Skidoo’s restaurant in Fairfax, Va., the association reminisced on some history as well as looked to the future of the collision repair industry.
With the event being emceed by Jeff Hendler, longtime industry mainstay and administrator of the Collision Industry Conference (CIC), those in attendance heard about WMABA’s history of being present at every national event or entity creation.
“WMABA was always in the room – when I-CAR was formed, when the national SCRS group got started, when CIC first began,” said Hendler. “There may have been only a few people there to start, but WMABA folks were always present, and look where those organizations are today. You have been well-represented in every major event in these past 50 years, and I’m sure you will be for the foreseeable future.”
While all those in attendance enjoyed a great meal, WMABA Executive Director Jordan Hendler showed the association’s 40-year history video to the group, then followed with a state-of-the-industry address. Discussing future technologies, such as artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles, Jordan talked about how the future of our industry is in the hands of young people today who are familiar with technology and computers.
“They will be the needed boost for our industry to have diagnosticians that are efficient and knowledgeable,” said Jordan. “With the knowledge base being laid off by the thousands on the insurer side, this is how our industry will keep up – getting these young minds in our shops. It’s all about the advancements of repairers at WMABA. Onward and upward!”
Fifty-year members of the association were also recognized: Fairfax Auto Body, Hanagan’s Auto Body, NCS Coatings, Inc., and Ray’s Auto Body.
The highlight of the evening was Aaron Schulenburg, executive director of SCRS, and Barry Dorn, Dorn’s Body and Paint, WMABA board member and SCRS past chairman, giving the Lifetime Achievement Award to Torchy Chandler, WMABA’s current president and longtime board member.
“Her sole desire is to see positive change in the industry,” said Dorn. “She has willingly offered assistance to anyone locally or nationally. She steps up for any event.”
Added Schulenburg, “This person is the first one to show up to organize the group, and the last one to leave. It would be hard to find somebody as passionate and involved as this individual, and it’s been evident in her work with WMABA, with Hammer & Dolly and her participation in things like the SCRS Affiliate Leadership Conference.”
“I just don’t know what to say, thank you so much for this award,” said Chandler. “You don’t expect something like this, you just do it because it’s the right thing to do.”
WMABA thanks all those who participated in the celebration, and encourages their continued participation and support of the association and the work it continues to do on behalf of the entire industry.