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Monday, 08 August 2016 18:38

California Autobody Association Celebrates 50th Anniversary

If you've had the same job for 50 years, or have been married for 50 years, you know it's not easy to stay on top of your game for five decades.

That's why it is both amazing and satisfying for the California Autobody Association (CAA) to be celebrating 50 years as a state auto body association this year. With 1,000 members and 12 chapters nationwide, the CAA is the oldest collision-only organization of its type west of the Mississippi.

Nearly a half century ago, the CAA was established when two local associations in southern California were merged. The Glendale chapter, which began in 1963, and the Long Beach chapter, which began in 1965, joined forces and became the CAA.

The CAA has had a rich history of accomplishments over the years, and some of the most notable ones are listed here:

-The CAA was there when the Bureau of Automotive Repairs (BAR) was started in 1972 and was very involved in the early years to help and shape its direction.
-The California Motorists Bill of Rights was written by the CAA in 1978 and became a model for other states.
-I-CAR was formed in 1979, and the CAA was there representing California.
-In 1984, CIC was formed and CAA President Al Estorga (1983) was the first chairman. Jack Caldwell (1984) and Darrell Mallott (1985), both past presidents of the CAA, also chaired CIC.
-In 1987 and 1998, CAA’s input to the South Coast Air Quality Management District on Rule 1151 made an easier transition for shops on the VOC rule change.
-The CAA has also sponsored numerous legislation that has been instrumental in shaping the collision repair industry over the last 50 years. Most recently, they played a vital role in the passing SB 551, SB 1988, and SB 1146, all of which have helped the collision industry in one way or another.

David McClune has been the organization's executive director since 2000, so he has seen the CAA grow and change considerably as the industry has evolved. "Yes, the collision repair industry in California has indeed changed in a big way, but our role has pretty much stayed the same. Since I began here, we have seen I-CAR evolve to become a stronger entity and a larger force in the industry. We have seen the advent of all the new technology and as a result, the industry is more sophisticated than ever. We still have a lot of challenges and I'm sure there will be more in the future, but we're always striving to make the industry better and enabling our members to succeed in this ever-changing business."

Several notable CAA leaders were willing to offer comments about the CAA, its role in the industry and its 50 years in existence.
“I owe a great deal of my knowledge and success to the CAA and its members,” past CAA president Ron Guilliams said. “The information, support and networking with shop owners have been invaluable to me. I don’t know of any other organization in the country that has a richer heritage and works harder on behalf of the collision repair industry. The CAA has continually developed a strong voice at the Capitol with our motto of Honesty, Integrity, and Craftsmanship.”

“After looking at one of the CAA’s “Voice” newsletters, I joined the CAA in Orange County,” Jack Caldwell, CAA past president in 1984 said. “I could see that the networking and the education at meetings was going to be a big benefit. Plus, just learning from other members is a huge value as a CAA member--50 years ago and more today.”

“I was invited to a local chapter meeting by an outside vendor in the late 80s, and I was hooked,” current president Ted Stein explained. “The fraternal connection with other shop owners and managers through the CAA had significant meaning to me. Whether I was working through an issue or able to help someone else with a challenge, the answer was always there. The feeling I had the first time 'working' the halls of the capitol building in Sacramento... I can’t even put into words the level of excitement as we were counting the votes.

"The friendships I have made are priceless. People I would have never had the chance to meet--Steve Sturken, Dave Mello, Don Feeley, Dave McNicol, Mike Passof, Ron Guilliams, Mr. Caldwell, Dave McClune, Jack Molodanof, and many more--are because of my involvement. I have been honored to be the state president twice, and I am humbled to be representing this amazing association during our 50th anniversary… 50 years strong!!”

Some of CAA’s past presidents include some of the strongest contributors to the success of this industry. In addition to those already mentioned, a few more include the first CAA President, Chuck MacDonald (1967), George Bistagne (1970), John Loftus (1976), Gordan Holcomb (1977 & 79), Maureen Holmes (1982)(the first female president), Finis Fortney (1987), Joe Dahlgren (1988), Rob Rebensal (1989), Chuck Bistagne (1990), Rick Reiss (1992), Bill Rupp (1993), Ed Van Klaveren (1994), Russ Scamara (1995 & 96), Mark Ferrari (1997), Joe Boivin (1998), Rick Johnson (1999), Don Feeley (2000), Warwick Bryan (2001), Yumi Vaught (2002), Peter Hurwicz (2003), Kelly McCarty (2004), Steve Sturken (2005), Ron Guilliams (2006), Dave Mello (2007), Ted Stein (2008), Gigi Walker (2010), Chuck Reyes (2011), Dave Picton (2012), Ben Mendoza Jr. (2013), Mike Passof (2014) and Don Feeley Jr. (2015) just to mention a few. The complete list of presidents can be viewed on the CAA website.

What will the CAA do in the next 50 years, we asked David McClune? "Who knows; with autonomous cars and fewer accidents, what will this industry be like in 2066? For the immediate future, we will continue to do what we've been doing--pursuing new members, strengthening our chapters, protecting the rights of our members in Sacramento and hopefully making their lives a little easier overall."

The CAA will be officially recognizing the 50th Anniversary throughout this year and in 2017 with a special event to celebrate the milestone during their first quarter board meeting, with a date and location to be determined.

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