by Alana Quartuccio
ABAT has been going to battle for consumers and shouting its mission for safe and proper repairs for close to a decade. As a result, this group has become one of the most well known, dedicated and passionate organizations around the country.
Whether they are fighting for legislation at the Capitol, challenging the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) or bringing in the best of the best vendors and speakers from around the country to the Lone Star State for their annual Texas Auto Body Trade Show each year, the ABAT team is committed to the cause in a big way – a Texas-sized way!
Therefore (with the exception of the ABAT leaders in attendance who were, in fact, surprised), it was no surprise that their efforts were recognized by the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) who presented ABAT with the Affiliate Association Award during the Collision Industry Conference’s 40th Anniversary Red Carpet Award celebration held in conjunction with SEMA week in Las Vegas last month.
ABAT is only the seventh affiliate association to receive this coveted award in SCRS’ 33-year history. As SCRS Board Member Tony Adams (AkzoNobel) explained, “This award is intended to recognize one of our 33 state affiliate associations who really displays exemplary actions across their state and member engagement and helps to lift up professionalism.”
As he spoke of ABAT’s work to advocate for legislation, Adams championed the group for “not just advocating, but specifically the work that they do with lawmakers to make sure they understand the issues that collision repairers are having in their state and how they are impacting consumers. The numerous events that they run, including their trade show and online webinars, to exchange that information across their state keep: their members informed, educated and engaged.” He also commended their work to standardize TDI complaint forms.
“Jill is selfless, and she holds the door for everyone in this industry,” SCRS Board member Andy Tylka (TAG Auto Group) said of ABAT Executive Director Jill Tuggle as he presented the award. “She’s progressive thinking and encourages people to learn from what they are doing.”
“I’m shocked and excited,” exclaimed Tuggle as she accepted the award on ABAT’s behalf. “It’s me who is humbled to have a seat at this table. It’s a pleasure to fight the good fight and represent independent shops.”
Referring to the “empty chair” which sits on the CIC stage to represent the consumer, Tuggle added, “The empty chair is what our associations support every single day, not just four times a year. Thanks for giving ABAT this honor. It’s my pleasure to work for the association I do and work with the people I get to interact with.”
ABAT President Burl Richards is equally proud of the organization they have built and gives credit to all involved.
“I have been involved with the creation of ABAT, along with Board member Chad Neal, from the very beginning,” he shared. “It’s very rewarding to see our achievements be recognized nationally. Everyone involved with ABAT has played a role…from our members to our Board, and especially Chad and Jill.
“As our executive director, Jill’s personality and willingness to work hard and make things happen is a huge asset,” Richards continued.
He reflected on the early days of bringing Tuggle on Board when the young association decided to launch the first iteration of what is now the fastest growing trade show in the south.
“Jill was referred by a couple of Board members to help Janet Chaney with the show,” he explained. “We saw her ability to communicate and organize events right off the bat. I also knew that I couldn’t continue to do everything, and in order to be successful, we needed a full time director as soon as we could afford one.
“Initially, Jill turned me down but later came to her senses,” he quipped. “That first trade show helped catapult our finances, and although there was not a lot of money in our account, there was enough to guarantee for about six months, so she accepted the challenge, and here we are today.”
“I did turn Burl down the first time he offered,” Tuggle laughed. “But only because I had just started my business. It was my baby, and I didn’t want to give it up. It turned out that I didn’t have to. I can do both, and I am glad I said ‘yes’ to ABAT. I love this job so much, and I love those who serve on our Board, our members and the safety of Texas drivers. I also absolutely can’t do it without Burl, his ideas and his passion for this industry, so I’ve threatened him that he can never resign.”
Richards also noted the launch of the popular annual skeet shoot event and executing his idea for customer complaint forms as just a few other achievements Tuggle has hit out of the park.
“I say all of this because it takes a team, and no single person can take credit for our success – we’re successful due to how we work together,” he stressed. “I am very proud of our association and our members. There is no way we could accomplish our goals without having the complete buy-in from our association members.“
Tuggle agreed that it takes a whole ABAT village to achieve what they have thus far. “I may be the one sitting at the table with other associations and industry people, but I just happen to be a really creative water-carrier. These guys (and gals) are the ones with all the ideas. I just have the gumption to pull it off and add a little pizazz along the way. This is all because we have an amazing team. I didn’t win this award; ABAT did. I was thrilled to accept the award on behalf of our association, but the honor truly goes to everyone involved, including our members.”
Want more? Check out the December 2023 issue of Texas Automotive!