By Ed Salamy, Executive Director

The 37th annual meeting of the Auto Body Parts Association, held April 25-28 in Atlanta, Georgia, was one of the best-attended and widely praised gatherings in recent memory. More than 150 industry leaders gathered at the Renaissance Midtown Hotel to listen, learn and make their voices heard.

There was plenty to absorb during our business sessions on Thursday and Friday, including updates on legislation and legal actions, election of a new member of the ABPA Board of Directors (congratulations, Mike Dolabi), updates on certification programs, and insights from industry experts on topics ranging from MSOs to working more efficiently with insurers.

Thursday’s “breakout” sessions once again proved to be very popular, with near capacity crowds filling each room. Dave Parzen of NSF examined the critical topic of liability if certain parts do not meet FMVSS regulations, which is mitigated with NSF parts certification. Jeff Schroder of Car-Part.com provided an update on Car-Part Pro, which is being used by over 29,000 repairers across the country. Dave Boden of CCC discussed how repairers and insurers are cutting cycle time by insisting on live integration of everything from parts inventory to pricing. Steve Messenger and Dave Apseloff of PartsTrader covered changes to their program, including a big increase in the number of aftermarket parts available.

A new twist during the breakout period was CAPA’s live demonstration of their Vehicle Test Fit (VTF) procedure, which was held in the hotel’s parking garage. A rapt crowd was treated to a step-by-step look at how an aftermarket hood is certified for fit. CAPA’s Jack Gillis pointed out the VTF program has even identified ill-fitting OEM parts!

On late Thursday afternoon, passersby on busy W. Peachtree Street were probably wondering why a huge crowd was gathered on the sidewalk in front of the Renaissance Midtown Hotel, and why so many in the group had tears in their eyes. ABPA was happy to provide a platform for the National Auto Body Council’s “Recycled Rides” program, which donated a refurbished “total” to a deserving young Atlanta family. Naomi is a teacher, mother of three young children and, until recently, a resident of a local homeless shelter. The donation of a clean, reliable Mazda SUV will make life easier for Naomi and her children. A very moving ceremony that touched all in attendance.

Thursday evening’s gala dinner gave everybody a chance to relax, reconnect with familiar faces, and network with new contacts. That was followed by the traditional CCC-sponsored after party, which once again proved to be a rollicking time.

Friday morning’s business session brought some of the most interesting information of the week. If you had to leave to catch an early flight you missed some excellent insights.

Bob Frayer reviewed the NSF’s growing list of certification programs, and was able to introduce the country’s very first certified parts recycling distributor, PAM’s Auto Parts from Minnesota. ABPA President Jim Smith reported on progress in the lawsuit against Ford Global, which continues to move forward. Gerry Poirier of Farmer’s Insurance provided some helpful insights on what it takes to successfully work with insurers. Will Nordwind of Venable, LLC, representing the Quality Parts Coalition (QPC) gave a very positive update on the PARTS Act and its prospects in the new Congress. And Brad Mewes delivered an amazing look at how consolidation is affecting the aftermarket parts industry from top to bottom.

We are very, very grateful to all of our sponsors for their incredible support of this year’s annual meeting. And we are already into the planning phase for next year’s event, which we expect to be even bigger and better!

Ed

Click on a link below for photos of the annual meeting by topic: