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Tuesday, 10 May 2016 16:11

Power of the Past, Force of the Future: WIN's 2016 Educational Conference

Excitement and positive energy filled the room as 188 attendees gathered at the Women Industry Network’s (WIN®) 2016 Educational Conference themed Power of the Past, Force of the Future. On the ten year anniversary of WIN’s inception, association members from around the country met in Tampa, FL to honor the past that has led to the present and learn how to best prepare for the challenges on the horizon.

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WIN’s 2016 Educational Conference was held on May 2-4 at the Hilton Tampa Downtown which contributed an air of elegance to the proceedings. During registration and orientation, attendees had a chance to get to know each other, and additional networking opportunities were offered between sessions throughout the conference.

For new members, WIN offered a chance to attend a Member Orientation session, hosted by Michelle Sullivan, WIN’s 2016 Most Influential Woman (MIW) recipient, and Petra Schroeder, Incoming Chair of WIN, who encouraged members to get engaged by joining a committee. After introducing WIN’s 2016 scholarship winners, Sullivan encouraged the industry professionals to mentor young people.

Marcy Tieger and Frederica Carter took the stage to go over the agenda and recognize WIN’s founders, past chairs, scholarship recipients, Board of Directors and sponsors. In between educational seminars, attendees also heard updates from WIN’s Committees.

Throughout the conference, Tieger and Carter provided tidbits from WIN’s decade-long history, Carter noted the good energy present from WIN’s first meeting as women gathered without feeling the need to prove themselves in a male-dominated industry. Tieger recalls WIN issuing the challenge for women to “be bold.”

From the beginning, WIN strove “to make sure members felt invited, warm and safe,” Carter noted. Tieger encouraged attendees to reconnect and establish new relationships.

The first presentation of the event was “Guess Who’s One of the Most Strategic Links in the Automobile Value Chain?” by Susan Lombardo, Senior Vice President of Acquisitions for Enterprise, who shared information on the rental car industry and her own career, and she noted that collision repair operators are a strategic link in the automotive value chain. To attendees hoping to be successful in their careers, Lombardo advised, “Don’t take things for granted, and always ask about opportunities. You are the driving force of the future.”

In “Getting Personal with Social Media,” Kristen Felder, Owner and CEO of Collision Hub and Engage Target Media, addressed using social media in marketing campaigns. Today’s consumers are often less interested in the product than the people behind that product, so Felder provided advice on the best ways to use social media to advantage. She also cautioned attendees about the dangers inherent in social media posts, but her overall messages reiterated: “Companies don’t do business with companies; people do business with people.”

Monday evening concluded with a Welcome Reception on the Hilton’s patio which allowed attendees to enjoy the beautiful weather, appetizers and beverages while engaging in the scheduled networking opportunity.


Tuesday began early for the 116 WINners who joined the annual Scholarship Walk. This year’s Scholarship Walk raised $3100 towards WIN’s Scholarship Fund.

Tuesday morning’s Key-note Address entitled “The Gold Medal Mindset” which was presented by Olympic Champion Shannon Miller. Reminiscing on her career as a gymnast, Miller recounted her successes as well as her failures. Emphasizing the importance of setting goals, maintaining a positive outlook and being committed to excellence every single day, Miller advised attendees to develop a “Gold Medal Mindset” which is simply an attitude of going out and winning the day, no matter what life throws at you.” See related article this issue.

After lunch on Tuesday, Chair Denise Caspersen introduced WIN’s founders for the “Power of the Past” panel discussion. The founders in attendance included Frederica Carter, Marcy Tieger, Geralynn Kottschade, Kathy Mello and Trish Serratore.

From there, the panel of WIN founders explained that they strove to create a safe harbour for collision repair industry professionals from all facets and levels of the industry. Mello explained, “These were people who go through the same things as us every day—it makes us better personally and professionally.”

When Caspersen asked the foun-ders about their proudest WIN moments, Kottschade said, “Being a part of this group has been one of the best experiences in my life. People step up where there’s a need, and there should be no fear to get involved. I’m proud to be a part of this organization.”

The ladies continued to discuss their efforts to plan WIN’s first Educational Conference with an all-volunteer group as well as how belonging to WIN has benefitted each of them. The founders praised the camaraderie of WIN members and stressed the importance of strategic planning as the association grew before Caspersen introduced Incoming Chair Petra Schroeder and Jaclyn Byers from WIN’s Technology Task Force.

After Schroeder explained WIN’s past initiatives, she noted their current initiatives are to grow WIN’s network and to build organizational capacity to better serve that growing network, which begins with a focus on technology which is an internal component of WIN’s Force of the Future goals as Byers attempts to make the association’s website easier to use and to increase WIN’s online presence.

Next, Jennifer Solcz from and on behalf of AkzoNobel awarded WIN a Technology Initiative Founders Scholarship of $12,500.

The afternoon ended with three breakout sessions. Colette Bruce of Team Safety presented a seminar on OSHA regulations and safety requirements.

AMI’s Jeff Peevy led “The History and Evolution of Training in the Collision Repair Industry,” stressing that training focuses on specific tasks while education is more general knowledge. See related article this issue.

Following the educational portion of Tuesday’s proceedings, WIN members gathered that evening for the MIW and Scholarship Awards Gala where WIN’s 2016 scholarship recipients were recognized and WIN members honored Michelle Sullivan, WIN’s 2016 MIW honoree.

During the General Session on Wednesday morning, Caspersen bestowed WIN’s Cornerstone Award upon Shelly Andrews and Katie Henwood. The award honors a Board of Directors member who exemplifies extraordinary service, and Caspersen also recognized new Board of Directors members Denise Kingstrom, April Lausch, Debbie Menz, and Jenny Anderson before discussing the association’s recent accomplishments and upcoming initiatives.


Event emcees provided some history about WIN’s early years with Tieger noting, “We’ve come a really long way, and we’re extremely proud of how far we’ve gotten.”

Next, Karen Fierst, owner of KerenOr Consulting, presented “Les-sons Learned on My Journey to and Through the Collision Repair Industry: Next Stop: China.” Fierst began with a personal biography, sharing information about her youth and her education. She advised attendees, “You need to have a vision, identify your core values, go for it, exude confidence, seek growth opportunities, find mentors, start networking, and evaluate. Have a vision to find your path.”

Fierst identified how to approach each of these steps. She also explained the importance of the four domains that define an individual: self, home/family, community and work. She encouraged everyone, “You have got to be yourself. Somehow, you have to figure out how to operate in your own personal sphere of comfort and according to your core values.”

Laurie Altman from 3M then presented “What’s Next? From the Eyes of an Industry Leader” which she began by sharing information about 3M’s vision and strategy as well as her own career. She discussed the rapid changes currently impacting the collision repair industry, such as MSOs, autonomous vehicles, OEM-certified parts, and a variety of other issues related to technology. Altman advised attendees to “make change your best friend, but stay true to what you believe. Don’t let others tell you what you can or should do—you’re probably capable of more than even you believe!”

During the last educational session, Mark Claypool, President and CEO of Optima Automotive, presented “Lions and Tigers and Millennials... Oh My!” Claypool defined the millenials as those born after 1980, and he listed some of the stereotypes associated with this group of young adults.

Claypool’s presentation focused on millennials as customers and the best ways to market to them. He outlined some of the challenges employers may experience with this generation who puts less focus on work and more on having a personal life.

As a WIN founder, Claypool also praised WINners: “What you’ve accomplished in the last ten years is nothing short of miraculous, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you; let’s see what your best can do over the next ten years for WIN, your business and the collision repair industry. You are the force of the future.”

As the conference ended, Debbie Clark announced that WIN’s 2017 Educational Conference will be held on May 8-10, 2017 in Denver, CO.

WIN’s 2016 Educational Conference sponsored included AkzoNobel, Axalta, BASF, DCR Systems, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, PPG, ASE Certified, 3M, Allstate, Caliber Collision, Insurance Auto Auctions, Service King, State Farm, Valspar Automotive, ABRA Auto Body and Glass, AudaExplore, CAPA, CARSTAR, CCC Information Services, Copart, FinishMaster, Fix Auto, GEICO, Gerber Collision & Glass, Hertz, MetLife, Mitchell International, OEM, The Romans Group, The Villacorta Law Firm PC, and Safelite Solutions.

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