Separation: The Industry’s Greatest Plague

by Jill Tuggle, ABAT Executive Director

One of our Houston Board members, Greg Luther, recently said to me, “The biggest issue that has plagued our industry for decades is separation. Shops have been taught to stay isolated, not to talk to each other, for fear of violating anti-trust guidelines or being accused of colluding.”

And I couldn’t agree more. In fact, just a week prior, I had a similar conversation when asked for advice from another budding state association. They asked me what their new group’s priorities should be, and I said, “Get the shops together. Create community and a space to learn from one another. Worry about legislation, action items and initiatives later. First, just get them together.”

What began as a small group meeting in East Texas has grown to the proportions of ABAT that you see today. We have seven chapter regions: East Texas, Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, College Station and West Texas. Some chapters are more active than others, and the ones that see the most success are those that gather regularly and attend ABAT events. 

I have noticed this on a national level as well. ABAT is a member of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists, and I participate actively in their state association affiliate group. Meeting bi-monthly virtually and in-person annually, it is a place for state association leaders to meet, share ideas and discuss issues. This group has been one of my greatest resources for ABAT; it is where I learn about new and upcoming speakers, hear real experiences from my peers about vendors and software solutions they use, learn new ways to raise awareness of our issues and so much more. We have also been able to help others along the way. This all translates into us being more efficient and more profitable. And for us, more profit equals more resources to create change. The states that attend these meetings are the most active and experience the highest success rates in their initiatives. 

That is exactly what you can expect by being an active participant in ABAT. By coming to meetings and events, you will hear new presentations on safe and proper repairs, learn from your peers about vendors and software solutions and find new ways to operate more efficiently and profitably. Also, by sharing your successes, it raises the bar in your local market and makes phrases like “prevailing common practice” or “industry standard” more reflective of what good shops are doing. 

By the time you are reading this, the industry’s biggest event in the south will be happening in just a few weeks. The Texas Auto Body Trade Show is the BEST place to get all of the above mentioned experiences. You can register ahead of time or at the door, and we absolutely guarantee you will learn something of value that you can implement in your shop the next day. Be sure to take time to network with the nearly 1,000 other people attending – some close down their shop and bring their whole staff! 

Someone recently asked me in an interview: “I have noticed some of the best shops in America are members of their state association. Are they the best because they are members, or are they members because they are the best?” It’s a great question and I think the answer is both. Iron sharpens iron, and rough diamonds are cut into brilliance using other diamonds – surround yourself with your peers, and you too will shine above the rest!

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