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Thursday, 31 October 2013 21:28

AASP-MA Plans a Busy Fall of Cookouts, Casino Nights, and Legislative State Meetings

AASP-MA always has many projects in the work, and fall 2013 is no different! In addition to hosting a barbeque, clambake and casino night for members, they will also hold a statewide meeting where they will discuss new technologies and some of their legislative activities. Executive Director Jillian Zywien took time away from her hectic schedule to discuss some of these events and initiatives.

On September 16, AASP-MA’s midstate chapter bid adieu to summer with their annual family-friendly barbeque in Hudson, MA. The event featured great catering by Firefly’s and plenty of fun activities for over 150 attendees. They also offered many exciting pleasures for children with a magician making balloon animals, a visit from the Worcester Sharks’ mascot, Fin, and a raffle just for kids. Children’s meals were provided at no cost, thanks to sponsor Imperial Parts.

The grand prize raffle was sponsored by over a dozen companies and included a barbeque grill, flat screen television, handcrafted boat sandbox, pool and spa package, paintball for eight, and a Samsung Galaxy tablet. Grand prize sponsors included Imperial Parts, Marshall’s Carstar, Balise, Bernardi Auto Group, Marlboro Nissan, Kelly Nissan and Linders, Inc. General raffle prizes varied from electronics and shop equipment to housewares, gift cards and cash; sponsors for these prizes included cPrax, Fuller’s of Auburn, Enterprise, Ollie’s Used Parts, Long Automotive, TASCA, LKQ, Best Chevrolet, Finish Master, J&R, Relco Products Company, Melendez Dent Repair, BASF, and Bald Hill Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep and KIA. Zywien and AASP-MA are grateful to their sponsors for their continued support and participation.

Over $6000 was raised at the barbeque and will be applied toward the continuation of the AASP-MA Tool Award Scholarship which provides tools to qualified students who are pursuing a career as an automotive technician. AASP-MA also hosted their annual clambake on Friday, October 11, at the Polish American Club in Feeding Hills, MA.

On Saturday, November 9, AASP-MA’s 6th annual Private Casino Night will be held at J. Anthony’s Italian Grill in North Oxford, MA. In addition to the night of fun and games, AASP-MA will also be honoring two long-time shop owners who recently retired: Walter Thomas of Thomas Auto Body who is a past president of CMARA and an original ADALB member, as well as Mike Beal of Mike’s Frame & Collision who is a past president of MABA and a huge supporter of AASP-MA’s western chapter.

Zywien looks forward to the success of this event. “This night promises non-stop gaming action and has been consistently sold out each year! We hope our members join us in an exciting evening of fun and winning big. Remember, AASP-MA is committed to winning for you and your business every day!”

Why does AASP-MA put so much emphasis on these type of events? Zywien explains, “AASP-MA’s educational and social events are important because they act as a forum for members to share ideas and concerns, to build new relationships with peers and become more profitable in their businesses. By hosting a variety of events, the association creates a networking opportunity for members to build a strong, industry-wide professional community. The association staff, together with AASP-MA leadership, continues to develop programs and encourage members to provide input on topics of interest you would like presented. Please contact the association with any and all ideas. We are here to serve you.”

AASP-MA will also be hosting their fourth quarter Statewide Meeting on Tuesday, October 15, at the Doubletree Hotel in Westborough, MA. Three speakers were scheduled to attend the meeting to provide presentations on several key issues impacting MA body shops.

Zywien detailed the key elements of each presentation: “Anne Lynch, President of Lynch Associates, Inc., serving as AASP-MA lobbyist, will be presenting on our ongoing advocacy with the DOI, the Department of Consumer Affairs, and other state elected leaders. It is vital that members are informed on the ongoing efforts of the association, in order to be involved with the process.

“Rick Starbard, past President of AASP and collision repair shop owner, will present on the Database Enhancement Gateway (DEG). The DEG can be a significant asset to body shops guarding against estimate errors in the databases of the CCC, Mitchell and Audatex. While this new this process can be frustrating and cumbersome, Rick will educate members how to maximize the program benefits. This seminar will provide a guide on the use of the site and how it offers members an opportunity for relief.

“Matthew Moore, Highway Loss Data Institute, will highlight advanced technologies that are designed to stop crashes from occurring.  The IIHS and HLDI have evaluated some of these technologies by performing tests and by looking at insurance claim data. Moore will provide a detailed discussion of the results.”
Thanks to recent enhancements to AASP-MA’s website, members and non-members alike were able sign up for this important education and informational event online at:
aaspma.org/events/statewide-meeting.

The association’s website was completely redesigned to include features like online program registration for all meetings run by the association, the ability to join AASP-MA and receive immediate access to member-only information, and a broadening of all forms of payment to AASP. The site’s member-only content section allows members to view the entire public portion of each meeting. Zywien encourages feedback: “WE LISTEN to members and want to hear from YOU. Please do not hesitate to contact us on our new local number: 617-574-0741. We stand ready to assist,” she says.

AASP-MA has also made changes to the way they communicate and interact with members. Their monthly publication, the Damage Report, is being distributed directly to members via email. The newsletter features articles on AASP-MA’s upcoming news and events, as well as other local, regional and national news and legislative initiatives pertaining to the collision repair industry.

Their newest feature, Ask the Expert, allows questions to be researched and the findings published for the benefit of all members. AASP-MA solicits these questions at their meetings, or questions can be sent to Colleen Kane at ckane@aaspma.org. Zywien is “really looking forward to this segment and hopes our members find it beneficial to their businesses.”

The Executive Director describes additional changes to AASP-MA’s member information delivery systems: “Recently, we have increased our contact with members regarding upcoming events, to insure that everyone is well informed and able to participate in AASP programs. We instituted an added feature that electronic notices can be sent to as many members of your staff that you would like to receive information. Simply provide the email addresses within your shop that could benefit from this content, and we will add them immediately.”

AASP-MA continues to set legislative initiatives for the MA collision industry. “As the number one priority, AASP-MA continues to work with Legislators on our auto labor rate bill. Massachusetts’ labor rate has consistently been the lowest in the country and it remains critical to our member shops that we pass this legislation. Additionally, we have pursued meetings with leaders in surrounding states to learn about legal and legislative initiatives they have successfully advanced on behalf of the industry. Our staff and leadership will continue to research avenues of relief to right the wrong insurers have forced upon the repair profession,” according to Zywien.

AASP-MA also recently met with representatives from the Division of Insurance (DOI) to discuss their labor rate bill, compliance and enforcement issues of the current regulations governing insurance companies, and their future working goals with the DOI, beginning by securing a direct contact within the Division, Director Mancini.

The reason that AASP-MA’s work with the DOI is so important, Zywien explains, is “Since many of our issues have an impact on rate setting activities, we look forward to forging a continued working relationship with the leadership of the Division of Insurance.  We were able to discuss in detail the labor rate legislative initiative; the compliance with current regulations; consumer and industry education about the rights granted under the policy; proposals we have offered to contain costs such as the expedited appraisal process which has not been implemented by the insurers; additional interaction with CAR and ADALB, and better communication in general with the agency on industry status.”
AASP-MA also has meetings scheduled with the Office of Consumer Affairs Undersecretary, Barbara Anthony, who is the cabinet member overseeing the DOI, and a follow-up meeting with CAR regarding conflicts between the standards for insurers and the adoption of a competitive market.

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