New Year, Same ABAT

by Burl Richards, ABAT President

With the New Year mere days away as I write this message, it seems like a great time to reflect on everything that went down in 2023 and to consider how we want to start off in 2024. It’s pretty common for folks to make a bunch of resolutions about all the things they want to change when they hang that new calendar each January, but I can honestly say that I don’t think ABAT needs to change a thing!

Our association has been a huge asset to the auto body industry in Texas, and I promise I’m not the only one who thinks so…body shop owners and managers from all across the Lone Star State give me a phone call periodically to let me know how much they appreciate what ABAT is doing for our industry. Although we may not achieve everything we set out to do the first time around, we’re a resilient bunch, and we keep hammering at things until we fix ‘em. 

All the progress we’ve made wouldn’t be possible without the phenomenal guys who volunteer their time and energy to sit on our Board. It’s reassuring to know we’ve got the right team in place to impact the industry in such a positive manner. The planning they do in collaboration with ABAT Executive Director Jill Tuggle is what allows us to offer so many vital educational seminars and classes to our members.

We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from shops when it comes to those learning opportunities – and we’ve also seen some really favorable results as collision professionals are getting educated on performing proper repairs and writing better estimates. And then they’re taking that knowledge back to the shop and implementing it, which makes Texas consumers safer. 

One of the biggest opportunities we offer for shops to learn all they can is at the Texas Auto Body Trade Show which just gets bigger and better year after year. Mark your calendars for this year’s show on July 11-13, and stay tuned for updates as they become available at

Of course, there will also be updates on the trade show (and everything else ABAT does!) in Texas Automotive each month. And when it comes to noting the association’s successes, I’ve got to tip my hat to the team at Thomas Greco Publishing. Tom, Alicia, Alana, Chasidy, Joe and Donna are all a big part of the successes ABAT has enjoyed; our magazine gives us a voice that allows us to reach shops all across this great state as well as legislators, insurers and everyone else willing to pick up a copy. Being able to project what we’re doing and what we see on such a broad scale has really helped elevate ABAT’s status locally and nationally.

And those efforts were recognized nationally in 2023 when ABAT was recognized by the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) with the Affiliate Association Award. (Check out last month’s cover story for the scoop on that humongous honor:

I’m confident that ABAT’s legislative initiatives played a big role in receiving that recognition. We were literally just one step away from getting our bill passed in 2023, and you know we’re not going to stop until we accomplish our goals to protect Texas drivers. Our push for mandatory Right to Appraisal is just getting started, and Joe Collins’ huge lawsuit against State Farm showed just how important it is for Texans to have the Appraisal Clause in their policy when there’s a dispute over the repair. Joe is doing something pretty amazing with all the funds he received from that case (check out the story on page 16, and stay tuned for next month’s feature on how that money is going to help other Texas drivers).

In fact, if anything is changing about ABAT, it’s that we’re hoping to amplify our spirit and efforts by growing the association and involving even more people, including actual consumers like Joe who understands exactly why we do what we do, who care about consumers’ rights and safety. And if you’re not already one of them, I hope you’ll consider joining ABAT to help us take more of the same and make it even better in 2024. Happy New Year!

Want more? Check out the January 2024 issue of Texas Automotive!