Charting a Path to Collision Repair Education at SEMA Show 2023

by Chasidy Rae Sisk

With vehicle technology increasing on what seems like a daily basis, it’s important for collision repair professionals to stay up-to-date on the latest information available about their craft…and this month features an optimal opportunity to cram in some education while having a little fun in the entertainment capital of the world as collision repairers make their way to the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) on October 31-November 3 for four days of educational updates, vendor exhibitions and networking at the 2023 SEMA Show!

As always, the biggest attraction for auto body experts will be the Society of Collision Repair Specialists’ (SCRS) Repairer Driven Education (RDE) series, and this year’s agenda features some exciting changes – in addition to kicking off the weeklong educational extravaganza with its IDEAS Collide Showcase, SCRS has adjusted its schedule of RDE courses on Tuesday and Wednesday to provide a full hour in between classes to ensure attendees won’t miss out on important information from collision’s best trainers AND allow more time to visit exhibitors on the Show floor.

But that’s not all that SEMA 2023 has to offer. You won’t want to miss the chance to learn from the industry’s elite at the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) on Tuesday, hobnob with the movers and shakers during the SCRS Afterparty and cruise around the upper level of the South Hall to check out the industry’s latest and greatest tools and equipment. 

With so many exhibitors to visit and 99 educational sessions to choose from, the sheer number of options may feel intimidating. But have no fear – Hammer & Dolly is here to help you chart a path to a successful, informative and enjoyable SEMA 2023!

Monday, October 30

Although the Show floor opens on Tuesday, October 31, SCRS begins its educational offerings the afternoon of Monday, October 30 in the Upper South Hall Skybridge classrooms at the LVCC. So spend your morning exploring the Strip, but get to classroom S233 by 3pm as SCRS shakes things up with its IDEAS Collide Showcase, which “sets the stage for finding solutions for your business through the week ahead while introducing attendees to a number of really phenomenal speakers [who will] rattle the status quo with ambitious ideas that could have a transformative effect on the industry and your business,” according to SCRS Executive Director Aaron Schulenburg.

Keep your notebook handy to jot down some of the groundbreaking ideas you’re about to hear during this unique journey that features 10 (that’s right – TEN in just two hours!) fast-paced presentations on collision’s hottest topics, delivered by a plethora of industry favorites: A Health Plan Your Employees Can Love: Fantasy or Within Reach? (Ben Simmons, Gravie); Culture: The Real Job Market Currency (Michael Bradshaw, K&M Collision); Being Burdened with the Burden of Proof (Richard Desvousges, 3M Collision); Mentoring: Opportunity Amidst Labor Crisis (Kyle Holt and Marc Brune, Mentor Mentee); Death of the “Estimator” Role (Andrew Batenhorst, Pacific BMW Collision Center); Growth through Acquisition — What You Need to Know (Bing Wong, Collision Builders); The Power of One More Booth Cycle Per Day, (Jason Garfoot, 3M); The Culture Code (Tracy Dombrowski, Collision Advice); Creating a Build Sheet for Your Garage Liability Insurance (Shaughn Kennedy, SPARK Underwriters); and Fixing the Faucet: How to Increase the Flow of Technicians into the Industry (Alex Crays, Career Technical Education Center).

After IDEAS Collide, go ahead and play a few games on the casino floor or check out one of Las Vegas’ infamous shows, but make sure to get some rest in order to hit the ground running in the morning. 

Tuesday, October 31

The first official day of SEMA 2023 provides you with a multitude of options! Get caffeinated before arriving at the Westgate Resort and Casino for the final Collision Industry Conference (CIC) of 2023, covering the auto body world’s most pressing topics with industry leaders around the country offering in-depth education and insights into the national collision repair scene.

After learning about “Scan Tool Essentials for the Collision Shop” with the CIC Emerging Technologies Committee’s Chuck Olsen (AirPro Diagnostics) and Bob Augustine (Opus IVS), presenting an overview of the Top 10 functions every collision shop needs to be prepared to complete using the scan tool, you take a front row seat as the Data Access, Privacy & Security Committee co-chairs Dan Risley (CCC Intelligent Solutions) and Trent Tinsley (Entegral) take the stage with a panel of industry experts to explore what data is being accessed when a shop uses a scan tool or third-party service provider, as well as what protection repair facilities have in “My EULA, Your EULA, What Data, Whose Data?” You’re all ears during “Industry Consolidation…A Candid Conversation” as CIC Chair Frank Terlep (Opus IVS) moderates an all-star panel discussion on what’s really going on with industry consolidation. 

If your shop is struggling to attract fresh blood, catch the Talent Pool & Education Committee’s panel, “Where Are They Now? Checking in on the Collision Engineering Program,” facilitated by Committee Co-Chairs Bud Center (I-CAR) and Collisionista Petra Schroeder. The update will also include information on engaging with this program in your own market. With the talent shortage continuing to be such a hot topic, it’s no surprise that the next session holds your interest as Aaron Schulenburg (SCRS), Dara Goroff (I-CAR) and Meredith Collins (Ducker Carlisle) dig deep into how the collision industry stacks up against other automotive verticals and explore learning directly from the technicians on how to shift attention to solutions that draw in and retain talent during “The Technician Crisis: Tapping into the Technician’s Perspective.

The Industry Relations Committee’s Jim Keller (1Collision) and Brandon Cruz (SCA Claim Services) keep your attention as they moderate “Processing The Claim – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” illustrating inefficiencies in the claims and repair process that cost time, money and stress, while exploring possible solutions that benefit all involved. Finally, you get your buzzer ready for a game of “Collision Repairdy!” as the Estimating and Repair Planning Committee’s Danny Gredinberg of the Database Enhancement Gateway (DEG) and Erin Solis (Certified Collision Group) host a Jeopardy-style game testing panelists’ – and the CIC body’s – knowledge of the advanced repair and claims approval process.

In addition to CIC, the day provides new educational opportunities as RDE kicks off at the LVCC. You’ll want to reach LVCC’s Upper South Hall Skybridge classroom S230 by 9:30am for “Take Control! The Guild of Advanced Repair Planning” as a panel of collision experts explore the entire repair process, beginning with the initial consultation on through to diagnostic repair planning, advanced processes to consider and compliance with OEM certification. Moderated by the DEG’s Danny Gredinberg, the panel will consist of Danyon Kirchner (Zimmerman Auto Body Supplies), Michael Bradshaw (K&M Collision) and more. 

Your other RDE options from 9:30am to 11am include:

  Freedom to Speak? Improve Employee Retention and Engagement Through Improved Communication” (Tony Adams, AkzoNobel) in S229; or

  The Influence the Refinishing Process Plays in Evolving Vehicle Technology,” (Jim Chargo and Jeff Wildman, BASF) in S231.

You take advantage of SCRS’ decision to adjust class times, which provides a full hour in between classes to visit Show exhibitors and grab lunch, but you get back to S231 by noon for “EV: Pulling Together the Critical Puzzle Pieces,” as Dave Gruskos of Reliable Automotive Equipment shares his knowledge on the complexity of repairing electric vehicles (EVs) with attendees. 

Additional RDE seminars scheduled for 12pm-1:30pm are:

  Death of the Estimator Role,” (Andrew Batenhorst, Pacific BMW Collision Center) in S229; and

  Marketing Jedi Training: All Levels Welcome – From Padawan to Master” (Micki Woods, Micki Woods Marketing) in S230.

After your one-hour break, you snag a seat in S231 to hear what Lee Rush (Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes) has to say about optimizing operational outcomes during “Doing More with Less: Operationally Addressing Workforce Shortages and Growing Backlogs.

Or you may choose one of these great classes, also scheduled for 2:30pm-4pm:

  Phone Etiquette and the Power of Mystery Shopping” (Tracy Dombrowski, Collision Advice) in S229; or

  Honey, You Shrank the Dents!  Smaller Dents, Bigger Dollars with ‘Pull to Paint’ Approach” (Chris White and Gene Fetty, KECO Body Repair      and Kevin Andrews, KECO UK). 

After enjoying one final hour of browsing booths, be sure to discuss everything you’ve learned with your collision industry peers at the CIC Reception, happening at the Westgate at 6pm. And stick around for the Collision Industry Red Carpet Awards Night, featuring CIC’s 40th Anniversary Celebration. When you return to your hotel room, don’t forget to set an alarm and catch some Zs – tomorrow starts early!

Wednesday, November 1

Rise and shine…and head over to the LVCC to walk the SEMA Show floor before hustling over to room S230 for 9:30am, where you’re sure to get an injection of energy from industry icon Mike Anderson (Collision Advice), who will share his favorite leadership lessons on how to improve an organization, sharing key lessons with your team and how to make them stick during “Building Operational Leadership.” But that’s not all this session offers – learn how to build, manage and support teams from a panel of collision repair leaders including Casey Lund (Collision Leaders), Ron Reichen (Precision Body & Paint), Andy Tylka (TAG Auto Group) and Michael Bauman (Diehl Auto Group.)

You can also check out one of these informative RDE sessions offered from 9:30am-11am: 

  Making the Right Tool Choice Using Empirical Data to Ensure a Safe  and Proper Repair” in S229 (Chris Chesney, Repairify); or 

  Changing the World with a 4-day Work Week?” (Tony Adams and Tim Ronak, AkzoNobel) in room S231.

Over the next hour, be sure to stop by the many jaw-dropping booths on the Show floor before arriving at S231 for “Overcoming the Challenges of Opening and Managing an ADAS Calibration Business” as Greg Peeters (Car ADAS Solutions) moderates a panel of shop owners who share their experiences overcoming and even capitalizing on their challenges, while opening and running very successful ADAS calibration businesses.

Alternate educational opportunities from 12pm-1:30pm include:

  Repairer to Repairer: Stop Estimating and Start Repair Planning” (Michael Bradshaw, K&M Collision) in S229; and

  Talent Shortage – Ensuring We Have Collision Technicians in Five Years” in S230 with moderator Jeff Wildman (BASF) and panelists Lisa Wyatt (BASF), Jennifer Maher (TechForce Foundation) and Brandon Eckenrode (Collision Repair Education Foundation).

After spending an hour networking – or simply catching your breath – you head back to finish your day with one of RDE’s final three sessions, all beginning at 2:30pm. Settle into a seat in room S230 to learn how to reduce pushback and gain reimbursement for the OEM required operations during “Being ‘Elite’ in a Consolidating Market” with BASF’s John Shoemaker.

If that’s not the topic for you, opt for one of these other great RDE courses:

  The Formula for Business Success, Considering Current Events” in S229 with Frank Terlep (Opus IVS); or 

  The New Age of Paint and Material Billing and Reimbursement!  in S231, presented by BASF’s Jim Chargo and Danyon Kirchner (Zimmerman Auto Body Supplies). 

Spend the last 30 minutes of the Show checking out some of the awesome rides outside the LVCC before meeting a friend for dinner and drinks to share your newfound knowledge and thoughts on the day.

Thursday, November 2

On the penultimate day of SEMA 2023, head back to S232 in the LVCC for the SCRS OEM Collision Repair Technology Summit, a three-part series of interactive panel discussions. The summit begins at 9am with Session I: Understanding OEM Insurance, taking a deep dive into the new world of OEM insurance programs, featuring Andrew Rose, president of OnStar Insurance; Rob Spencer, president of Toyota Insurance and Rivian’s Head of Insurance Mike Slattery. 

OEM Summit Session II: North American Automotive Material Outlook and Implications to Collision Repair (11am-12:30pm) features Abey Abraham and Bertrand Rakoto (Ducker Carlisle) discussing with panelists Dan Black (Rivian) and Matthew Pitta (Lucid Motors) metallic and non-metallic material strategies that shops can expect to encounter as the transition to EVs and alternate fuels create dynamic changes in the material makeup of vehicles. 

The details for Session III (beginning 1pm) have not been released as of the time this article was written, but will be made available at 

When it ends at 2:30pm, you return to the Show floor and spend the last hours of the day visiting with vendors to explore the latest and greatest equipment to keep your shop on the cutting edge. You may want to indulge in a quick cat nap before donning your finest apparel to rub elbows with the collision industry’s elite at the SCRS Sky Villa RDE Afterparty, which begins at 9pm in the Westgate’s Versailles Sky Villa Suite. (Hopefully, you remembered to get your tickets for the most-talked-about collision networking event in advance!)

Friday, November 3

Your brain is buzzing with all the knowledge you just absorbed, but with just a few hours left before the LVCC doors close, you cannot afford to miss a minute! Eager to absorb all you can at SEMA 2023, you grab a cup of coffee – or three – and navigate your way around the Show floor to chat with vendors and other repairers before grabbing your bags and heading to the airport. If you booked a later flight, be sure to secure tickets to the inaugural SEMA Fest, the official SEMA Show afterparty, for a cacophony of motorsports, music and car culture. 

Be sure to rest up over the weekend because you’ll want to hit the ground running on Monday to implement everything you learned at SEMA 2023 in your shop!

Learn more about SEMA 2023 at To sign up for RDE courses, visit Attend CIC by registering at

If you’re not at SEMA 2023, be sure to mark your calendars for next year’s event, scheduled for November 5-8, 2024.

*All events/times are subject to change.

Want more? Check out the November 2023 issue of Hammer & Dolly!