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John Hughes of Mopar was the first guest speaker.
ABAC President Tony Ferraiolo welcomed two new members to the association's board of directors: Tony Cavallaro Jr. of Airport Road Auto Body and Joe Miano of Friendly Auto Body. Ferraiolo also introduced several new association members, including Gates GMC Nissan Buick, Chris' Auto Clinic, Farmington Auto Park, Suzio Insurance Center and Jackson Chevrolet.
Referencing a table ABAC set up at the front of the room with information to keep shop owners involved and educated. Ferraiolo stated, "We have information and guidelines to help you. You really need to have several copies of the Connecticut Appraisers Regulations in your shop. You need to look at it, make copies, and give copies to your customers. If you get a customer who comes in and they were told they had to bring their car to get an estimate somewhere, give them a copy of this and tell them that in the Regulations it states that no appraisers can tell them where to take their vehicle."
Because the Connecticut Insurance Department's Conduct of Motor Vehicle Physical Damage Appraisers clearly states, "No appraiser shall request that appraisals or repairs be made in a specified repair shop or shops." Ferraiolo encouraged, "Give that to your customer, and if their insurance company tells them otherwise, let your customer know that the appraiser is in violation of the regulations and encourage them to put in a complaint with the Department of Insurance."
At each ABAC meeting, the association recognizes all sponsors by projecting their names on a large screen. Their May 12 meeting was sponsored by Bald Hill Dodge - Chrysler - Jeep and Kia, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Kent Automotive, and Paint World. Stressing the importance of sponsors to the association, Ferraiolo stated, "The ABAC wants to honor our sponsors at every event that the ABAC has and what better way than to put them on display for everyone to see? We really appreciate the support that we receive from these valuable vendors, and the ABAC wants to make sure that everyone supports them by using their services. It is very important and very vital to the continued success of the ABAC going forward.
Next, Ferraiolo introduced the evening's first presenters from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles: John Hughes, Collision Repair Specialist - Technical Service Operations, and Mark Engelsdorfer, Mopar Service Parts and Customer Care Director - Collision Portfolio. Their presentation began at www.moparrepairconnection.com where repairers can find repair manuals, Corporate Position statements, and technical repair articles with all the necessary updated data on collision, mechanical and powertrain repairs for Chrysler.
Then, Hughes provided attendees with information about becoming a FCA-Certified shop; in order to be FCA-Certified, shops must have the tools, equipment, training and facilities to properly repair Chrysler vehicles to OEM specifications. After applying and submitting key business information, shops assess their business capabilities and are provided with a score and evaluation. This is followed by an onsite audit to ensure all requirements are met. Once a shop is FCA-Certified, they gain access to various marketing tools to ensure they gain value from their efforts.
Hughes and Engelsdorfer explained the benefits of certification and recognition, including having their shop location and FCA Collision Assistance app available to all FCA group vehicle owners. The Certification also allows official recognition by other OEMs with the same requirements and certification process. The first presentation concluded with a question and answer session for attendees.
Following a dinner break, Ferraiolo welcomed guests from AASP-MA's Western Chapter: Gary Cloutier of Cloots Auto Body, Mike Boucher of Customer Auto Body, Ed Nalewanski of Ed's Auto Repair, Don Vermette of Vermette Auto Body, and Dan Lamontagne of White Lightning Auto Body.
Next, ABAC's Legal Counsel, John Parese, updated members on the association's new bylaws, stating, "These bylaws are now consistent with the way the organization is actually run, to modernize the bylaws to regulatory requirements and statutory requirements. So, what I would suggest is that we have a motion since the bylaws have been previously provided to everyone, as required by law, and I would ask for a motion to approve the now updated bylaws."
Aaron Schulenburg of SCRS discussed the value of education.
Bob Skrip moved to accept the new bylaws, and after Bill Denya seconded the motion, the bylaws were unanimously approved and established.
As the meeting proceeded to ABAC's Election of Officers, the following members were nominated and voted into office for another term: Tony Ferraiolo of A&R Body Specialty will continue as President with Ed Lupinek of Eddie's Auto Body serving as Vice President. ABAC's Secretary and Treasurer roles will be filled by Mark Wilkowski and Mike Wilkowski, both of Stanley's Auto Body. Ferraiolo noted that he would not be able to successfully perform the work he has done without the continued support and valuable efforts of the association's board of directors.
The meeting concluded with a presentation by Aaron Schulenburg, Executive Director of SCRS. Discussing the education SCRS offers to industry professionals, Schulenburg states, "The two ways that we do education and information are through two arms of programs that we've developed; Repairer Driven News and Repairer Driven Education, all of it with a focus on repairs. And that is what is always driving our efforts and initiatives."
As an advocate for local associations and the industry as a whole, Schulenburg often speaks at meetings like ABAC's quarterly meeting on May 12, where he told attendees, "It's an amazing opportunity to be here and join all of you this evening. One of my favorite parts of my job is when I get to come out and meet with people in different states and talk a little bit about what's going on in the industry and talk with different groups and what they're facing locally. It gives us the opportunity to gain insight to what's going on across the country."
Regarding Schulenburg’s attendance, Ferraiolo states, “Aaron has a style, and I like it. He has the ability to engage and keep the interest of all in attendance throughout his presentation, and we are very grateful that he took the time to attend our meeting and provide ABAC members with beneficial information they can use in their businesses."