"This is truly a memorable event for our industry," Starbard said. "This [merger] wasn't thrown together off the cuff. This was about determination, fence-mending, friendship rekindling and a lot of hard work on behalf of all three associations’ officers. The Boards of MABA, AASP/MA and CMARA should all be congratulated for their foresight in making this happen here tonight."
The reconfigured association retains longtime AASP/MA Executive Director Peter Abdelmaseh and lobbyist Martin Corry and gains former MABA Administrator Nancy Russell, while the interim Board of Directors includes members from all three former groups. James Castleman, Esq. will provide legal counsel to the new group, while Thomas Greco Publishing, Inc. will continue to produce AASP/MA's monthly publication, New England Automotive Report.
The unification of the three Massachusetts groups comes after an extensive 18-month negotiation process that ended decades of division.
"From the Board of Directors’ perspective, there is a great deal of excitement in the air because we now have one unified voice," remarks Ricci. "Instead of having three associations, there now exists one united front and the excitement of opportunities to come."
"We're very fortunate that we can do it at this time in the industry’s history," Hendricks adds. "We have so many issues with insurance companies and regulations not being enforced that the only way to get anything done is with a large group. Right now, I feel that we have the best leaders in the industry all joined together. We can only move forward from here."
For Starbard, who also serves as president of AASP National, the restructured MA affiliate reflects a welcome spirit of unity and cooperation throughout the Commonwealth.
"This is the first time in 20 years that the collision industry in Massachusetts will be united," Starbard says. "It's time to be on one page, set one course and start winning on behalf of the industry."