“We want the current laws enforced,” Steffen said. “There are good laws out there. Steering is illegal in California, it’s just not enforced. We have a plan to enforce.”
The plan is to “speak loudly and clearly with the regulators to get elected officials to become involved and very interested in fairness,” Steffen explained Ultimately the goal is to seek oversight hearings on these issues and involve the attorney general’s office, he said.
A major issue to examine is steering, “to make sure the work is based on the plight of the consumer and not insurance tactics that are not always fair,” Steffen said. He will focus on labor rates, the reasonable cost of repair, and how this relates to steering.
“Having Richard onboard further strengthens our team,” said Gene Crozat, president of CRA. “I … am committed to assembling staff that can best represent our membership and industry. Richard with 28 years at the capitol and Allen Wood with over 30 years with BAR will form a formidable team.”
Steffen recently served as staff director for Senator Jackie Speier, where he handled numerous complaints pertaining to the auto body industry. He became familiar with the patterns and practice of some insurance companies not to pay the appropriate amount of money, he said.
Steffen said he considers his new role with CRA as an extension of the work he was doing for the legislature.
As for an elected official who will assume the stance of Jackie Speier, Steffen was unsure, but added that Senator Mike Machado was very fair.
“It could be that no one will replace her,” he said. “There was no other legislator that took on collision repair issues, in her manner. That’s one of my goals is to find multiple legislators who understand and appreciate business fairness in the marketplace.”
Steffen said he views collision repair specialists as strong allies of the consumers, and plans to work with consumer groups such as CARS to gain support. He said he will also work with the media to make sure CRA’s side of the story is told. In addition, he said CRA plans to work hand-in-hand with the California Autobody Association(CAA.)
David McClune, executive director of CAA said there is a chance the organizations will work together in the future.
“Depending on what the issues are and what each organization is going to do, we’ll have to see,” McClune said.
Membership is up for the CRA, with an estimated 40 shop owners, many of whom are multiple location operators.
“I think the CRA is a very new fight on this and our members are articulate and dedicated, have on average 30 years in the business, really know what they are talking about and are very convincing,” Steffen said. “That will be beneficial for us. We’re going to be an aggressive association.”
For more information on the association, visit www.cra-ca.com.