FOR THE THIRD year in a row, ABRN convened a panel of representatives from a variety of backgrounds in the industry to discuss some of the key issues facing the collision repair industry – and offer some predictions on what may lie ahead.
IMAGE/ GETTY/ CHRISTINE BALDERAS
The roundtable discussion brought together six representatives from shops and associations and one insurer. This year's participants include:
- Denise Caspersen, collision division manager for the Automotive Service Association (ASA)
- Dan Risley, project manager for Allstate Insurance at the company's home office in Northbrook, Ill.
- Diane Rodenhouse, owner of Rodenhouse Body Shop in Grand Rapids, Mich., a past national board member of ASA, and the treasurer of the West Michigan Body Shop Association
- Mike Schoonover, president of Schoonover Bodyworks & Glass, a third-generation business with two locations in Minnesota; he serves on the I-CAR board of directors, and is chairman of the Certified Automotive Parts Association (CAPA) Technical Committee
- Aaron Schulenburg, executive director of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS)
- Rick Starbard, president of Rick's Auto Collision in Revere, Mass., and president of the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers (AASP) of Massachusetts
- Dusty Womble, operating partner of Roger Beasley Collision Center, a dealership body shop in Austin, Texas; he serves on the national boards of both I-CAR and SCRS.
Highlights from this discussion
ABRN: All of you have probably noticed that consolidation in the industry seems to have kicked back into high gear in the last year or two. From your perspective in the industry, how do you view the future prospects for a single-location shop operation, given the continued growth of multi-location shop operations (MSOs)?
Starbard: We don't have the same experiences here in Massachusetts as the rest of the country as far as the MSOs and consolidators, mainly because we don't have DRPs in a legal fashion. But I don't see it any differently than on the mechanical side. For many years there have been Sears and Firestone and Goodyear and Midas, yet we still have many single, independent auto service centers all over. We find around here the consumers go with those they are comfortable with and those that are part of their community, rather than migrating toward the larger operations and multiple shops operations.
Womble: I think independents are going to have to be more specialized in what they're doing than they are now, telling customers what the shop is certified in and what training they take, things that some of the MSOs don't do to set themselves apart.