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Thursday, 27 January 2011 18:04

January Collision Industry Conference Votes Very Narrowly in Favor of SEMA for Fall Meeting

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Participants at the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) in Palm Springs, CA, in January chose by a single-vote majority to have this fall’s CIC meeting in November in Las Vegas in conjunction with the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show rather than the preceding month in Orlando with the International Autobody Congress and Exposition (NACE).

The decision marks the second year CIC will meet in conjunction with SEMA. This year’s meeting will be split over two mornings, November 2 and 3.

The 99–98 written vote followed a brief presentation by Ron Pyle of the Automotive Service Association (ASA), which owns NACE, in which he said that while ASA has and will continue to respect and participate in CIC, he hoped participants would recognize the economic importance of NACE for ASA—and in turn for the industry—and vote to meet in Orlando.

As he did at NACE last year, Pyle spoke of ASA’s efforts to support other industry non-profit organizations through NACE, both in terms of free booth or meeting space, and through financial donations from NACE revenues. He said NACE delivers more hours of training and education than any other industry event.

Surveys and other input from the industry led to the decision to hold future NACE events in a rotation of cities, Pyle said. In addition to Orlando and Las Vegas, he named Indianapolis as another city being considered.

Pyle said that just as ASA had to make decisions about NACE based on what it sees as the best interest of ASA and the industry, he recognized that CIC participants needed to decide where they felt was the best place for CIC to be held.

“We would like to see it return to NACE, because we think the many years it was held at NACE it had great attendance and accomplished a great deal of good for the industry,” Pyle said.

Following Pyle, Peter McGillivray, SEMA’s vice president of marketing and communications, spoke briefly about SEMA’s growth over the decades.

CIC participants then voiced various opinions before the vote. CIC Chairman Mike Quinn, for example, said that past CIC chairmen who met earlier in the week recommended that CIC meet with SEMA. Rick Palmer of  Computer Logic, said he sees NACE as more of a collision industry event, and that CIC should support it as it can.

Aaron Schulenburg, executive director of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS), which for the second year will offer collision industry training during SEMA, said the successful CIC meeting at SEMA last year indicates that holding it there was a good decision for CIC. He said the “Paint, Body and Equipment” section at the massive SEMA exhibition is being renamed this year as the “Collision Repair and Refinish” section.

Following this year’s vote, Quinn said past CIC chairmen, rather than the CIC body, will decide the issue in future years. After the meeting, several past chairs said privately they would support alternating future fall meetings between NACE and SEMA on a yearly basis. Quinn himself said he doesn’t view the decision as an ASA versus SCRS issue.

“I know some people might think CIC sits right next to SCRS and that maybe ASA is way over here,” Quinn said, holding out a hand. “My goal is to put CIC in the middle as a neutral entity that represents all of us.”

From 2004 until last year, NACE and SEMA were held during the same week in Las Vegas. Last year, citing competition from SEMA for exhibitors and attendees, NACE organizers moved the dates of its 2010 show up by about three weeks. CIC participants last January voted 71–65 in favor of meeting in conjunction with SEMA for the first time.

Other news, announcements
In other news and discussion at CIC in Palm Springs:

The associations that sponsor the Database Enhancement Gateway (DEG), the website that allows users to post inquiries about labor times or other estimating system concerns, announced that they are seeking a new administrator. Bud Center is leaving the DEG after about two years, having accepted a position with the Sterling Autobody chain. ASA, the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers (AASP) and SCRS are seeking someone with a through knowledge of the three primary estimating systems. They hope to fill the position by the end of February.

I-CAR presented an award to industry trainer Toby Chess for having taught the most “student units” of I-CAR training and welding qualification tests last year. The “King TUT” award (which stands for “total unit taught”) honored Chess for having overseen welding qualification tests for 387 students, and teaching 2,700 students in classroom I-CAR training.

Chuck Sulkala of the National Auto Body Council (NABC), said the organization’s “Recycled Rides” program last year resulted in 119 vehicles being refurbished and donated to families and non-profit organizations in need. Another six vehicles were just being finalized in mid-January, bringing the total to 125, a 57 percent increase over the previous year’s total, Sulkala said. Thirteen insurers donated one or more vehicles, and 93 shops worked on them. Sulkala said NABC has identified about 200 collision repair training programs in schools around the country that are interested in participating in “Recycled Rides” this year as well.

– CIC’s next meeting will be held March 17 in Newark, New Jersey in conjunction with the NORTHEAST Automotive Services Trade Show. For details, check the CIC website (www.ciclink.com).

John Yoswick, a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon, who has been writing about the automotive industry since 1988, is also the editor of the weekly CRASH Network (for a free 4-week trial subscription, visit www.CrashNetwork.com). He can be contacted by email at jyoswick@SpiritOne.com.

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