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The evening began with LaCIA Chairman Lynn Lejeune calling the meeting to order and informing members of the association’s intent to hold a members-only meeting in the imminent future in order to discuss their agenda for 2015 and to elect new board members. Lejeune also updated attendees on the Attorney General’s lawsuit which is still at the federal courts as they await a decision on whether the case will be return to a state court as the Attorney General’s office hopes.
Accordingly, LaCIA’s Chairman reminded everyone that the Attorney General’s office “would like to hear from members who can provide evidence on secondary crashes that resulted in increased damages or parts not reacting properly (air bags not deploying, crumple zones not crumpling like they should, welds not holding, etc.) due to the use of non-OEM or used parts on a prior repair, or due to poor workmanship on a prior repair.”
Anyone with such evidence should contact Assistant Attorney General Stacie deBlieux at 225-326-6458 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next, Derek Stubbs, Vice Chairman of LaCIA, read the Anti-Trust statement and the association’s mission as follows: “LaCIA is committed to serving in the best interests of the collision repair industry through education, support, leadership and business connections in our trade. We hope to achieve the open sharing and exchanging of ideas which will help make this field better for everyone who serves it and to promote consumer awareness. From the porter to office assistants to shop owners, we are here to provide everyone a voice and hope for the future of our livelihood. LaCIA is an organization that was started so that the collision repair industry of Louisiana has a chance to exchange ideas and provide a voice and support for the collision repair professionals in our state.”
Stubbs also reminded attendees that, as an association of education, it is very important for LaCIA members to stay educated and keep abreast of all that is happening in the industry if they hope to be successful.
Next up, guest speaker Mike Anderson of www.collisionadvice.com presented an update on the state of the collision repair industry and discussed many other topics. Anderson began by asking attendees if the industry is changing them or if they are changing the industry, suggesting that LaCIA can be “the wind of change our industry needs” and encouraging everyone to do more than just sit around waiting for change lest, by biding their time, the collision repair industry allows the insurers to make all the changes.
He asked, “are you controlled by your circumstances, or are you taking charge of your own destiny?”
Anderson provided information about many laws from other states that are beneficial to the collision repair industry as a means of helping LaCIA establish some new goals in the future. Noting that only 430 body shops in LA claim payroll taxes while 1459 do not, Anderson noted that shops that do not claim any employees are more likely to be the “backyard” shops who are hurting the state’s industry as they may not be properly repairing vehicles or investing in the overall well-being of the industry in any way. LaCIA is considering investigating this matter further, and Anderson suggested that they may be able to get the attention of the State Senate by presenting the data to demonstrate the potential money the state is losing in payroll taxes.
Another suggestion Anderson made was for shops to collect estimates with discrepancies to send to LaCIA to allow the association to fight for them because shops fighting on their own run the risk of being blackballed or deemed hostile while having a representative acting on behalf of multiple shops can go a long way toward receiving proper compensation without being detrimental to their relationships with insurers. Anderson also mentioned that shops can use yext.com to help improve their online search ratings.
Turning the discussion to aluminum repairs, Anderson noted that shops can check with their paint suppliers for help deciding whether it is necessary to invest in aluminum repair immediately since suppliers can provide information on how often aluminum trucks actually get fixed. Most aluminum trucks are work trucks, and Anderson does not believe there’s a need for the investment right away if these trucks are not being repaired frequently in a specific area; however, he informed the group that they should not write off the need for this investment completely as the use of aluminum in vehicles is becoming increasingly common. Among a variety of other things, Anderson also directed attendees to the Army Career and Alumni Program (ACAP) which is designed to help veterans get work and even offers a GI Bill to help pay for employee training.
Alysia Hanks, Executive Director of LaCIA, states, “it was a very educational evening, and I left there more motivated than ever to be the change this industry needs! We have a lot of work to do ladies and gentlemen! I hope I have your support as we move forward.”
In addition to their last meeting of the year, tentatively scheduled for November 15 in the Lafayette/Alexandria area, LaCIA is planning a function with the Attorney General’s office for Buddy Caldwell’s re-election which is scheduled to be held at 5:30-7:30PM on November 22 at The Hall in Lafayette, LA.