A Breed of Their Own: ABAT Honors the Ladies of Collision 

by Chasidy Rae Sisk

Perspicacious. Selfless. Resilient. Compassionate. Vivacious. Superhero. These are just a few of the adjectives used to describe the honorees at ABAT’s Inaugural Night of Honor for Collision Industry Women, held last month at Cook’s Garage in Lubbock. 

“There’s something special about the women in the collision repair business,” said ABAT Executive Director Jill Tuggle. “It’s almost like we are our own breed – so wildly unique yet still similar! Since industry events often attract fewer women, ABAT wanted to get the ladies together to network as we attempt to build a community among the women in our industry, locally and nationally.”

Over 100 attendees came together from all over the Lone Star State and even as far away as Chicago. While all women who work in collision were invited, ABAT encouraged managers to sponsor the ladies who work in their facilities for a fun-filled evening, and during the registration process, sponsors were asked to describe their honoree using one word.

“I have never been able to quite put my finger on it or find the right adjectives to describe the women in this industry,” Tuggle noted. “There really isn’t a way to effectively sum it up, so we asked the folks who work closest with us to make an attempt, and we were blown away by some of the descriptions.”

Reading honorees’ names and those adjectives were a highlight of the evening as more than 50 honorees came to the front of the room amidst cheers and applause as they were recognized for the value they bring to the collision businesses where they pour their blood, sweat and tears every day. 

The first Night of Honor for Collision Industry Women featured a special panel discussion with some very notable women representing the many facets of the auto body world. Carrie Coppi (Hub City Body Shop; Lubbock) offered an estimator’s insights, while Raven Hartkopf (Collin College; Allen) shared her perspectives as a current college instructor and former shop employee. Flying in from Colorado, Erin Solis (Certified Collision Group; Fort Collins, CO) is a powerhouse with 25 years of industry experience who has worked in various capacities within shops in addition to facilitating 20 groups and serving on the Board for the Society of Collision Repair Specialists.

Tuggle moderated the dynamic conversation, designed “to bring excitement and encouragement to our careers. It’s the first time I’ve ever moderated a panel, but the discussion went better than I could have imagined. The group on stage was a perfect combination to share their experience and knowledge with everyone, and ABAT thanks them for participating. Attendees were engaged and asked great follow up questions. I’m pretty sure everyone walked away inspired…I know I did!”

Each honoree also got to choose a gift: a customized hat or a piece of jewelry. The evening’s festivities also included dinner, a photo booth and, of course, cocktails with friends.

“Everybody loved it; we’re definitely going to do it again!” Tuggle indicated ABAT’s intention to make the event an annual recurrence. Stay tuned to Texas Automotive for updates on exciting gatherings like this one, and if you haven’t already registered for next month’s Texas Auto Body Trade Show, what are you waiting for? Details on page 16.

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