No doubt one of the great draws at SEMA and AAPEX/CARS in Las Vegas is the thousands of ultra-tricked out cars and trucks and a chance to buy some of the latest and greatest tools and products that make them that way.  But there are also several educational and social opportunities that can help you come away with a fulfilling experience.

To be fair, it could take an entire year for any individual to attempt to attend all that SEMA and AAPEX/CARS offers in just six days.  But we will do our best to offer as complete a sample as possible. This is just one of the ways that ASAMARI is always working to make your work easier. Here a just a few (literally) of the events and observations made by ASAMARI in Vegas this year.

CIC

The week began on Tuesday October 31st, with an all-day series of presentations by the Collision Industry Conference (CIC). This organization consists of virtually every stakeholder in the collision repair space. In addition to repairers, there are insurers, parts suppliers, paint companies, rental car companies, educational organizations, and other jobbers and vendors whose business includes serving collision repair businesses. CIC is organized into committees and each committee has members from the various stakeholder groups.

Many of the presentations centered around the trending discussions of OEM new vehicle technology and OEM repair procedures. The Insurer-Repairer Relations Committee did an early morning presentation entitled “OEM Procedure Issues,” and after lunch the Governmental Committee held a panel discussion on “New Vehicle Technology and Public Policy.”  

Other presentations following similar themes were made by the Emerging Technologies Committee (“Beyond Scanning: Enhance Your Understanding Around Recalibrations, Resets, and Reprogramming”) and the Open Systems, Data Access and Sharing Task Force.  If you are unfamiliar with CIC and would like more information please follow this link.

ASA’s CARS & SCRS RDE Series

While physically located on different parts of the strip, the two premier national repairer trade associations annually offer multiple training and informational seminars for repairers and industry stakeholders. They cover topics such as diagnostics and blueprinting, new vehicle repair procedures, business management, hiring and firing, negotiating, legal and legislative issues, OE Certification programs, Cybersecurity and Telematics and, well… you get the idea.

Of particular note was an SCRS (Society of Collision Repair Specialist) sponsored meeting at SEMA that featured Todd Tracy of the Tracy Law Firm from Texas. Attorney Tracy was the lawyer who argued the John Eagle lawsuit that resulted in a jury awarding a $31 million-dollar verdict against a repairer for their failure to follow OEM repair procedures. The case is a clear warning of the potential liability a repairer can face when deviating from recommended industry repair procedures. It also showed that the defense that the repairer was instructed by the insurer to forgo the accepted OE recommendations will not stand up in court.

Across town, ASA (Automotive Service Association) through its CARS program at AAPEX, held the 5th Annual Technology and Telematics Forum. (ASAMARI hosted a preview of this event in Taunton, MA on October 25, just prior to SEMA/AAPEX.) Robert Redding, ASA’s Washington, DC representative, and Wayne Weikel, Senior Director of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, provided an overview of how legislators and regulators are developing policy around self-driving vehicles, data privacy, and ASA’s efforts to ensure that repairers have a voice in these discussions.

Click here for more information about SCRS and ASA.

NABC

In addition to all the training and informational opportunities, my favorite “behind the scenes” event was the NABC (National Auto Body Council) annual Recycled Rides Luncheon, held on Nov. 2 at the Westgate Las Vegas Paradise Convention Center. More than 300 people were in attendance to watch and listen to the stories that led fine people to face challenges most of us will likely never endure.

Recycled Rides is an industry-wide collaborative community service program in which businesses in the collision industry team up to repair and donate vehicles to those in need. The restored vehicles provide recipients with much-needed transportation as they restore their own lives. Since the inception of Recycled Rides 10 years ago, members of the National Auto Body Council have donated nearly 2,000 vehicles nationwide, changing and saving lives for thousands of individuals across the country.

This year’s event at SEMA/AAPEX was truly an emotional scene, as five deserving individuals and families from Nevada received their keys to completely refurbished vehicles. They included:

  • Jorge Hernandez, who lost both legs and use of his hands in a near-death accident;
  • A single father, Brandon Gonzales, and his 6-year-old son Braydon;
  • Earl and Sheri Shaw, who leave their house up to four hours before they must be at work so they can drop off seven-month-old daughter Jasmin at daycare and make it to work on time, by foot and public transportation;
  • Marine veteran Javier Rivera-Suarez and his wife, Estela, and two sons, who are transitioning from homelessness to an apartment of their own; and
  • Tamara Lugman, also transitioning out of homelessness and starting a new job.

It is important to note that, in order for this event to happen, many businesses and individuals donate extensive time and resources. Recyclers, insurers, parts companies, paint suppliers, jobbers, and repair technicians all come together for this worthy effort. It is a testament to how businesses that many perceive as being anything but cooperative can come together for a worthy cause. For more information about the NABC click here.

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