The winners of the annual Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) Industry Achievement Awards—which recognize industry professionals who have distinguished themselves through their outstanding efforts and exceptional commitment on behalf of the collision repair industry—were announced at the SCRS Industry Awards and Corporate Member Recognition Lunch on April 9, 2014, in Portland, OR.
"These individuals personify the best the collision repair profession has to offer; those who help drive effective change and positive results in their industry and surrounding communities," stated Dusty Womble, chairman of the SCRS Nominations and Awards Committee. "It's always incredibly exciting to spend time recounting the positive example of these exceptional achievements, and this year proved to be no exception."
SCRS thanks the 2014 award winners—pacesetters that establish a positive tone for the rest of the industry.
"It's satisfying to be able to devote a night to those individuals who serve as an inspiration for all of us that come into contact with them," added Aaron Schulenburg. "Their enthusiasm for the industry is infectious and, as a result, they motivate us to give our best as well."
Collision Industry Individual Service Award
The Collision Industry Individual Service Award is intended for individuals in the industry that exhibit actions considered exemplary in maintaining and advancing the collision repair industry.
The 10th annual recipient Mike Anderson owned Wagonwork Collision Centers in Alexandria, VA, for over 20 years. Selling the business provided Mike the opportunity to focus his efforts on his true passion: helping collision repairers improve their businesses and, as a result, their lives through his Collision Advice consulting company. In 2014, Mike spent more than 341 days on the road doing workshops, seminars, and onsite consulting, and he is a frequent speaker for SCRS affiliate associations because of his passion, presence, and knowledge. Mike was unable to accept the award in person because he was working with a collision repairer actively engaged in the activity he was being recognized for.
"I was brought up in this business to give back as much as I can," Anderson explains. "My dad drilled it into me, and so did other influential figures in my life, including Sheila Loftus, formerly of the Washington Metropolitan Auto Body Association (WMBA) and Elainna Sachire, president of Square One Systems, who moderated a 20 Group that had a lasting impact on me. These mentors challenged and encouraged me to see that helping others opens the door to the best kind of success, that which is long-lasting and true. Whether I'm sharing information or providing education, I try never to lose sight of that important fact."
Anderson was presented with the award later in the week during one of his seminars in St. Louis, MO. Frank LaViola from Enterprise Rent-A-Car sat Anderson in front of the classroom and read the original presentation speech from the awards ceremony.
"Even though I couldn't make it, just the thought of being in the company of all those industry greats makes me speechless," added Anderson. "I only want to help, so this recognition is humbling, but at the same time very much appreciated."
Collision Industry Non-Individual Service Award
This award was created for SCRS to spotlight contributions to the collision repair industry from a corporate or company level. The 2014 award went to the Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF), which is tasked to secure donations that support quality collision repair education programs that promote and enhance industry career opportunities.
Approximately 60,000 students have been touched by the CREF programs, and close to 2,000 instructors and 1,150 schools support the programs. In 2013 alone, CREF coordinated more than $18 million in donations to high schools and colleges across the country, with support from each side of the "industry aisle."
"We are surprised and absolutely delighted by the award," stated Clark Plucinski, CREF executive director. "Sometimes we wonder if the work we do is recognized as providing something the industry desperately needs, and then a validation like this award comes along and we're reminded that it most certainly is. The support continues to pour in and it makes a huge difference for our students. I want to express my incredible thanks to SCRS to make the commitment to thank us at this level; their involvement makes this award especially meaningful."
Regional Lifetime Achievement Award
John Mattos was a third-generation automotive refinish supplier. The Pro Finishes PLUS enterprise he owned together with his cousin Joe Mattos remains a spiritual successor to the paint business started by his grandfather in 1928, a tradition passed down to his father and uncle and most recently to John and Joe.
While John was generous with his technical and refinish product knowledge, it is his work with the WMABA from its inception in 1967 to the present for which he is fondly remembered.
"John was a good evangelist for WMABA in the early days, perfect for spreading the word because he had a gregarious personality and close relationships with many body shops in the area," said Joe. "His commitment to the association lasted close to four decades; he never stopped spreading the word about WMABA achievements, sharing his ideas how to make the industry stronger and better, and fostering leadership in others."
Joe didn't know until the presentation itself that he would be accepting the Regional Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of his cousin. "I really wished John could have been there to accept the accolades himself," he stated, "but it was extremely gratifying and quite an honor to see a lifetime full of effort on behalf of our industry validated in a most meaningful way. It was quite an event and very special to us indeed."
Individual Lifetime Achievement Award
The Lifetime Achievement Award is SCRS' truest mark of distinction and a rare recognition dispensed only ten times in the over three decades of the SCRS existence. In 2014, the special honor went to Gary Wano, Jr., owner of G.W. & Son Auto Body Shop in Oklahoma City, OK, a professional who was raised in the industry and consistently exhibits his devotion to it—so much so that the award seemed the only way to properly recognize him.
"The Lifetime Achievement Award is a symbol of the most exemplary among us, and Gary Wano certainly fits the description," said Jeff Hendler who presented the award to Wano. "He never hesitates to assist those who need it and has a knack for bringing out the best in someone, whether they're close to home or half way around the world. This award speaks volumes of his integrity and unselfishness, and as much as it is an honor for Gary to receive the award, nothing could top the honor I felt presenting it to him."
Receiving an award of this magnitude was hard for Gary to process initially. "I have to say maybe I still don't believe it," he said. "In my 51 years of life, the only milestones more incredible than this one were the birth of my children.
Family is so important to me, I wouldn't have had the time available to offer help to other repairers around the globe had I not been blessed with my sisters Kristi Wano and Tammy Tomberlin and my parents Gary, Sr. and Leona, who were willing to focus on the day-to-day operations of our store. "Their contribution also allowed me to work with some of the best leadership in the industry, the SCRS board. SCRS helped me grow into the professional I am today, and it's no surprise as I see all of the attributes listed for this award in each SCRS board member. They share a passion for the industry and aspire to a level of fortitude and selflessness in their drive for industry improvement. If we keep moving forward, I have no doubt the best is yet to come."