Thursday, 22 January 2015 00:00

New ASA Affiliate in IN Moves Forward in 2015

In December 2014, the Automotive Service Association (ASA) announced the addition of a new affiliate in southern Indiana (ASA-IN/Evansville). Over 55 people attended the inaugural meeting which was held on December 9 at Ivy Tech Community College, including several instructors and students from the school.

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Dan Risley, President of ASA-National, is excited about the addition of the association’s 14th affiliate chapter: “The addition of this Indiana affiliate is significant. Quite frankly, there was a hole in the middle of the Midwest since we have affiliates in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri and Iowa. As ASA continues to grow in strength and size, we are continually seeking new affiliates to increase our presence, especially in areas where we don’t have an affiliate. What makes ASA unique, as compared to other national associations, is that if you are a member of an ASA affiliate, you are required to be a dues-paying member of ASA-National. The importance of ASA affiliates is really simple; ASA affiliates are the foundation of our house. When they are strong, so is ASA-National. We will be aggressively pursuing new affiliates in 2015.”

Risley is grateful to Vernie and Barb Menke of Menke’s Automotive Repair in Newburgh IN, stating “without their participation, time and effort, this would not have happened.”

Vernie Menke has been on ASA-National’s Board since 2010, and he explains that ASA-IN was formed to “help move the automotive repair industry in IN forward. We see a lot of shops falling behind in terms of training and technology, and that can lead to them going out of business. This struggle caught the attention of Jasper Engines & Transmissions and NAPA Auto Parts who reached out to us about starting an affiliate chapter of ASA. They’ve really stepped up to help with this, and we are very thankful for these two sponsors and their dedication to our industry.”

Shortly after joining ASA, the Menkes attended the association’s national convention, and that really helped reinforce the value of belonging to the association. “Barb and I took 18 classes between us that week and saw how great ASA really is. It seems like the elite shops of the nation belong to ASA, and we’ve met a lot of super sharp people who’ve really helped us move our business forward. We’re hoping that ASA-IN will yield similar results for other shops in IN.”

ASA-IN debuted in Evansville, in the southern part of the state, and 29 shops have already joined the affiliate. Menke feels “blessed at the amount of interest that’s been expressed so quickly,” but like most ASA affiliates, ASA-IN is already looking forward to expanding. In February, the association will hold a meeting near Indianapolis, in the northern part of the state, and they hope Risley will return to help promote this second chapter of ASA-IN.

Jasper Engines and NAPA are already doing their part to promote the northern chapter. According to Menke, “representatives from our sponsors have been diligently promoting our meetings to their local customers. They realize that what benefits our industry also benefits them; if all these shops go out of business, who will buy their parts?”

ASA-IN/Evansville has schedule their next meeting for January 20 at Ivy Tech, and invitations have been extended to owners, managers, service advisors and technicians. After dinner, attendees will separate into two groups for roundtable discussions. Chris Coffman of Ivy Tech will lead the technicians’ roundtable, while owners, managers and service advisors will gather for a roundtable under the guidance of Jasper’s Zach Bawel who will emphasize the importance of being willing to make changes.

As Menke says, “if you’re not willing to change, you can’t move forward.” The meeting will conclude with an hour-long computer programming class for all present to help them understand what equipment is needed and how to use it.

Ivy Tech has agreed to allow ASA-IN to use two rooms to hold their training sessions and meetings over the next few years. In exchange, the affiliate will allow instructors and students to attend the meetings and participate in training at no cost. Risley feels that this “relationship with Ivy Tech is key because partnering will enhance the school’s vocational program and encourage new students to enter the industry.”

Menke explains that “even before ASA-IN was started, Ivy Tech’s program was struggling, so they asked Jasper Engines & Transmissions for help. Zach Bawel at Jasper contacted me and several other local shops to get involved with helping the auto program move forward by helping update their equipment and suggesting classes. In addition to allowing Ivy Tech’s staff and students to attend our meetings, we’ve developed an internship program to train students by allowing them to work in our shops and experience what really happens in the field. About ten to 12 shops have signed up so far, and I think it will be a win-win for everyone.”

Risley agrees, stating “ASA-IN/Evansville can provide the students with practical experience in member shops while they’re in school. This will give them real-life experience before graduation, and it will enable ASA-IN/Evansville members to evaluate the students as potential employees.”

As ASA-IN continues to grow, their goal is to help IN shops survive and to move the industry forward in their state.

This will begin by attracting more active members because, Menke stresses, “it’s so important to be involved in this industry. The problem is that 90% of shops live within their four walls and don’t know what’s going on. Every industry professional needs to get involved in the state of the industry and its future because that’s how you move forward.”