by Chasidy Rae Sisk
Education, exhibitors and excitement…Those are the three things that collision repair professionals can expect from the 2024 Southeast Collision Conference (SCC), scheduled to take place May 16-18, 2024 at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex in Greensboro, NC.
Last year, WMABA’s decision to team up with Carolina’s Collision Association (CCA) to co-host the second annual SCC proved to be so successful that many lauded it as a “collision revival” due to the sense of collaboration and community that grew out of the three-day event!
Currently, plans are underway with the review of submissions for WMABA’s Collision P.R.E.P. (Professional Repairer Education Program) educational agenda, lining up vendors and identifying ways to expand the show, and although much is still up in the air, one thing is certain: SCC’s third iteration will absolutely kick it up a notch or two.
Those who attended last year’s event continue to sing its praises, and several WMABA Board members weighed in on their favorite aspects of the 2023 SCC and what they’re most looking forward to in May.
“Overall, the 2023 SCC was a huge success,” expresses WMABA President Steve Krieps (Greg Cline Auto Body; Winfield, WV). “The line stretching all the way out the door that first morning was amazing to see for our first go round partnering with CCA. Setup and coordination was super fun, and there are many unsung heroes of that event.
“My favorite part was the members’ kick-off dinner and award ceremony,” he adds. “It was an honor to be able to publicly recognize those who dedicate their time and energy to the industry and crack a few jokes.”
WMABA Board member John Shoemaker (BASF) agrees that last year’s event “went very well and was well attended by a good crowd of people who were looking to improve their businesses. I saw many of the same people in the variety of courses and workshops available which made me feel like we reached the right audience.”
Shoemaker particularly enjoyed “networking with industry friends, talking with people in my training sessions and looking at new products.”
Networking topped the list for WMABA Board member Kris Burton (Rosslyn Auto Body; Alexandria, VA) as well. “The opportunities to network with vendors and other shops was unlike anything we’ve ever had in this area before.”
That was one of the associations’ main goals when WMABA and CCA partnered last year.
“We strive to give everyone a premier experience with many takeaways to improve their daily life as a collision repairer,” WMABA Executive Director Jordan Hendler promised in 2023, and after the event, she indicated, “Bringing the entire regional industry together, with many from across the country joining in too, to take part in the educational opportunities and tradeshow was a win for all those who made the effort to come.”
And this year, attendees can look forward to an even stronger event as Hendler guarantees, “Our teams are hard at work on the planning and preparation of a fantastic education program with opportunities for all segments of collision repair.”
With the industry’s best presenters, dozens of top collision industry vendors and a chance to rub elbows with the finest repairers in the southeast market, there’s something for everyone. So, what are the WMABA Board members most looking forward to this year?
“All of it!” Krieps proclaims. “I love the opportunity to hear from the speakers during the education series. The series never disappoints with the quality of information attendees can have access to, all while being able to interact with their peers and vendors.
“After all, where else can you go around here to get fired up by Mike Anderson, or learn something helpful about a database from Mr. DEG himself, Danny Gredinberg of the Database Enhancement Gateway?” Krieps asks. “Then, you can go meet with any of the vendors and manufacturers present to ask questions or see new equipment. There are so many more influential industry leaders who attend and are willing to share and help in any way they can that I cannot name them all.”
“I always look forward to networking and facilitating seminars so that is what I’m excited about,” Shoemaker shares. “Any time I can get someone to leave one of my seminars with a couple of thoughts that will improve their business, I feel I have made a difference. Once again, we will have top-notch vendors and national speakers facilitating seminars and workshops. Every year, it seems this event steps it up a notch, and I believe this year’s venue is going to be awesome!”
He also reminds local repairers, “You do not need to be a member of WMABA or CCA to benefit because everything is focused on the collision industry, not WMABA or CCA. With the conference positioned in north central North Carolina, it will benefit repairers in a variety of markets, not just those served by WMABA.”
Burton is really looking forward to the opportunity to explore the newest tooling and equipment options. “The exhibitors that attend SCC are some of the best in the country, so this show offers an amazing chance to check out the latest and greatest products on the market. The format of the event provides plenty of opportunities to truly engage with our vendors as well, and I cannot express how much I appreciate them for coming out and stepping up.
“Whether we’re interacting with vendors, industry peers or educators, it’s important to recognize the power of networking, which is often understated,” Burton continues. “The classes are always world-class, so I’m planning to bring some of my shop’s team down to the show, so they can learn first-hand. I’d encourage others to do the same…the quality of SCC’s educational offerings ensures that you’ll be able to implement something to improve your business the very next day, and that’s a huge benefit.”
“These events allow a level of networking for members to make connections at every level of the industry that is typically only found at SEMA in Las Vegas, but it’s much closer to home,” Krieps stresses. “The key thought is you have to be there!”
“These conferences are always key events,” Shoemaker agrees. “Last year was better than the year before, and I believe this one will eclipse last year because I feel people really realized the value of what the Southeast Collision Conference can bring.”
The full agenda for 2024 SCC, complete with participating sponsors and vendors, will be added to the website over the next couple months, as it becomes available.
Stay up to date by visiting southeastcollisionconference.com. Learn more about WMABA at wmaba.com, and additional information about CCA can be found at carolinascollisionassociation.com.
Want more? Check out the January 2024 issue of Hammer & Dolly!