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Thursday, 14 March 2013 17:35

ALARISE Gears Up for a Busy April: SkillsUSA and First Southern Industry Conference

The Alabama Automotive Repair Industry Society of Excellence (ALARISE) is gearing up for a very busy April with two large events coming up.

The first big event is the statewide technical schools SkillsUSA competition set for April 24-25.

The ALARISE board of directors recently met with Alabama SkillsUSA automotive collision competition director Ronnie Smallwood to discuss how best to support the upcoming contest, and board members quickly learned how very much their support, contributions and participation is valued and needed to make the competition a success.

“The Alabama SkillsUSA Automotive Collision competition becomes a primary focus for ALARISE,” said acting president Steve Plier. “In addition to working with the Mississippi Collision Repair Association to finalize details for the April 26th and 27th Automotive Repair Industry Conference in Biloxi, Mississippi, ALARISE is also turning its attention and efforts to assisting and working to gain the assistance of automotive collision repairers and collision repair vendors to make the April 24th and 25th Alabama SKILLS USA competition a success.”

Plier continued, “The need of assistance to make the Alabama SkillsUSA competition a success is huge and should be a priority for the automotive collision repair industry in Alabama. The critical shortage of qualified technicians for repairers and associated vendors in the industry is alarming and growing. To reverse this trend and to revive interest in this industry that offers many opportunities for individuals that love automobiles and all the work associated to the automobile, the collision repair industry must step forward,” Plier said.

“The choice is obvious. We must STEP FORWARD and LEAD or face the consequences,” Plier added. “The facts are that there is a big need to replenish a skilled workforce, that like the America population, continues to age. There is a need for the industry to become involved with the education system to develop apprenticeship opportunities for those wanting to learn more about industry opportunities and there is a responsibility for the industry to help educate the public of these opportunities.”

The recent meeting between ALARISE board members and the Alabama SkillsUSA automotive collision competition director Ronnie Smallwood brought a dire picture to view. ALARISE board members had previously discussed the possibility of offering a scholarship to competition winners or offering assistance in the purchase of a toolset, said Plier, but the group soon learned the reality of the situation: that the first step is being able to actually hold the competition itself.

“The meeting with Director Smallwood indicated how bad the situation is and how much the industry needs to step forward,” said Plier. Discussions with Smallwood indicated that at 60 days out, he had only received total donations of $200 and interest from two industry members on being judges for the competition. However, Smallwood said the minimum requirements to hold the competition would equal roughly $5000 and 10 or more judges.

Besides monetary donations and voluntary judges, other needs include lunch and refreshments for contestants and repair materials and actual automobile panels.

ALARISE board members made a commitment to help with the SkillsUSA competition by providing judges and additional monies needed for competition to occur. Additionally, ALARISE will help state winners with travel costs to national competition later in the year.

Alabama automotive collision repair facilities and collision repair vendors willing to help with the SkillsUSA contest are encouraged to contact Ronnie Smallwood at 256-476-3727 or

Southern Automotive Repair Industry Conference & Exhibition

Coming on the heels of the SkillsUSA competition is the first Southern Automotive Repair Industry Conference and Exhibition, organized and presented in partnership with the Mississippi Collision Repair Association (MCRA). The conference is set for April 26-27 in Biloxi, MI, at the Beau Rivage Resort Casino Hotel.

The conference will include presentations by Aaron Schulenburg of SCRS, Rick Leos of Toyota Motors, and Florida repairer Ray Gunder and his attorney Brent Geohagen.

The event kicks off with a Friday night reception and vendor exhibition from 6-10 p.m. On Saturday, classroom training opportunities are scheduled between 9-11 a.m., and in the afternoon, between 12:30-5:30, industry speakers and a panel Q&A are scheduled.

“The goal of this conference is to have participation from repairers and vendors throughout the Southeast and work to make this an annual event,” said organizer Steve Plier.

Registration is $25 for association members or $50 for non-members. Deadline to register is April 10. For information on registration, hotel reservations or to be an exhibitor, see or

For additional information, contact John Mosley with the MCRA at (601) 924-2159 or at or contact Steve Plier with ALARISE at (205) 623-9307 or at

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