Few people in the auto repair industry have had a career as long or diverse as Chuck Sulkala, who currently serves as Executive Director of the National Auto Body Council (NABC). Through it all Chuck has been known for his focus on charitable work and support for the communities in which we all live and work. He recently wrote this moving letter calling for the automotive repair industry to once again step up to help our friends and neighbors in Houston to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. We reprint Chuck’s letter in full.
There cannot be anyone left in America that, by now, has not seen the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. Ironically, I am sitting exactly where I was 12 years ago when Katrina hit and we started Katrina relief. I remember the tears and the families we helped from our industry then. Today, Harvey’s devastation is two to three times what it was during Katrina.
For us to sit back as a caring industry and do nothing is not what we are about. After Katrina, with the generosity of the industry, working through the Collision Industry Foundation, we provided gift cards from Wal-Mart, helped with relocation expenses to other towns if needed, paid to get families back together since many were evacuated to shelters in different cities, provided tools so technicians could go to work again, and, in the end, tried to help those from our industry begin the process of helping themselves back from the depths of despair that comes with losing everything.
The Collision Industry Foundation has once again stepped up to do the right thing for those in our industry needing our help. And so, it is because of their effort and the work that is so desperately needed today, that I am reaching out to all of you, as individuals in our industry, to join with me in making a really Grand Gesture to help our fellow collision repairers. We, as an industry, stood tall and helped our own after Katrina. And through the Collision Industry Foundation (CIF) and this Grand Gesture effort, we will do that again for even more.
Today, I have made my personal donation of $1,000 to the Collision Industry Foundation knowing that, as with Katrina, all of these funds will be used specifically to help the technicians and their families who have been wiped out of everything except perhaps the wet clothes on their back.
Imagine seeing everything you worked your whole life for now covered in water, ruined. The treasures and the memories are now all gone. But life needs to begin again however with nothing except the skills you know and the desire to care for your family how does one do that without a place to work or the tools to even do that work?
I know businesses big and small will be making donations, and well they should, but I am specifically asking — no, challenging — each and every one of you as individuals who have made your living in this industry, to join with me in making this Grand Scheme a reality. For some, this may be a reach and seem a bit too much, but I ask you to just think about this, what would you hope that others might do if the roles were reversed for you or anyone in your family?
If you own a business, then give twice, first as a business and then as an individual that has benefited from this industry. This is a very small price to pay for those who have been trapped by a disaster not of their making.
I am not asking for this because you know me or don’t know me. It matters not whether we are friends or not, it is simply a case of doing the right thing for the right reason. Right now, people in this industry need our help. Will you please join with me to make a difference for their family?
To make your donation, please go to www.collisionindustryrelief.org
On their behalf, thank you.
Chuck Sulkala is the executive director of the National Auto Body Council.