A Report on the History of Communication Between Part Manufacturers and Leaders in the Collision Repair Industry

Washington, DC – Recently, a delegation of six California Auto body Association (CAA) Technical Review Committee members and the executive director of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS), returned from a successful visit to Taiwan where they met with manufacturers of crash parts. The goal of this trip was to further communicate collision repairers’ need for quality, competitive replacement parts.

The Certified Automotive Parts Association (CAPA) applauds this endeavor, which is only the most recent in a long list of productive efforts by many in the collision repair industry to communicate quality concerns to part manufacturers. It is these previous efforts that have helped to build the foundation that contributed to the success of this recent CAA/SCRS trip.

On behalf of the many collision repairers we’ve worked with and who have substantially contributed to the improvement of part quality, CAPA would like to set the record straight on our long-standing effort to directly involve collision repairers in communicating their needs to part manufacturers in a positive and proactive manner. While this report covers CAPA’s initiatives, there have been other similar efforts involving other collision repairers.

CAPA’s History of Establishing Collision Repairer/Manufacturer Communication

1989: CAPA’s efforts to initiate productive communication between collision repairers and manufacturers began in 1989. At that time, CAPA’s newly appointed Executive Director Jack Gillis and the first collision repair representative on the board Dick Cossette of Lehman’s Garage in Minneapolis visited the manufacturers. CAPA chose to introduce the manufacturers to Dick Cossette for three reasons: his reputation as a respected leader in the collision repair industry, his keen understanding of collision repairer needs, and his excellent communication skills. Dick Cossette was able to clearly and directly communicate the needs of collision repairers to manufacturers. The manufacturers appreciated learning about these needs from someone of the caliber of Mr. Cossette.

1990: In 1990, one of CAPA’s stalwart supporters and most trusted and turned-to advisor, Jerry Dalton, led a special task force of CAPA Technical Committee members to conduct an important evaluation of the validator. During that process, Jerry worked closely with many of the manufacturers and gained both their trust and respect. This should be no surprise to anyone in the industry who knew Jerry. From a historical perspective, this was one of the most profound of CAPA’s repairer visits as it resulted in substantial changes in the program as well as the selection of a new program validator. Mr. Dalton’s visit a full ten years ago clearly established a productive channel of communication between collision repairers and CAPA participants.

1991: In 1991 Jerry Dalton, again, visited the manufacturers in Taiwan. This time he served as an intermediary in the efforts to fully introduce the key staff of our new validator to the manufacturers. Jerry made it clear to the manufacturers that quality was the key to their success and that adherence to the CAPA standards was key to making their parts acceptable to collision repairers. While Mr. Dalton’s knowledge of the collision repair environment was key to his success in communicating with the manufacturers, the most important element in his effectiveness was the respect he showed for them.

1992: In 1992, primarily at the suggestion of Jerry Dalton, CAPA took an unprecedented risk and invited some of the most critical and concerned leaders in the collision repair industry to Taiwan for the sole purpose of continuing the efforts of Cossette and Dalton. The group included CAA’s Mark Ferrari and a future ASA leader, Jerry Kottschade who each made a considerable investment of their time to make this trip. Our goal was two-fold: to further expose the manufacturers to the needs of collision repairers and to show those most critical of part quality the progress being made by CAPA manufacturers. From the candid reports of all members of the group, both goals were achieved. These representatives, as have all representatives on CAPA trips, and the manufacturers interacted openly and with mutual respect. In fact, Mr. Ferrari and Mr. Kottshade, who took considerable professional risks by accepting CAPA’s invitation, further opened many channels of communication.

1993: The noteworthy Ferrari/Kottshade delegation set the stage for formally re-establishing the channels of communication between all segments of the industry that began when people like Chuck Sulkula started meeting with representatives of the insurance industry and others in 1984, prior to the formation of CAPA. In June 1993, CAPA again brought key collision repairers together with manufacturers in the first Inter-Industry Communications Forum (IICF). At this Chicago meeting, over 40 representatives of the collision repair, insurance, distributor and estimating industry came together with nine manufacturers in what the nay-sayers predicted would be a disaster but, instead, resulted in an incredibly effective communication effort. It was so successful that all parties decided to continue the IICF and since 1993, the group has met 11 times. Collision repair leaders who met with the nine manufacturers at the first IICF meeting included Bob Anderson, Joe Sanders, Clark Plucinski, Mark Ferrari, Ed Kizenberger and Nikki McDonald. Primarily because of the efforts of many collision repairers, all of whom made sacrifices to attend IICF meetings, the manufacturers continued to develop a better understanding of the shop’s need for quality. Without these early efforts by a significant group of collision repair leaders, the manufactures would have little understanding of collision repairer needs. What is particularly remarkable about these early collision repairer efforts is that as each meeting improved communication, the market saw continued improvements in quality. This is because these meetings increased manufacturer understanding about the needs of the collision repairers.

1994: In addition to bringing key leaders to manufacturing facilities, CAPA exposed the manufacturers to the real world challenges in collision repair shops. In 1994 shop owner Nikki McDonald opened her shop to manufacturers attending the IICF in Denver, Colorado. Later that year, two Las Vegas shops opened their doors to a diverse group of visiting manufacturers.

1995: In 1995, Jerry Dalton, Jerry Kottschade and Clark Plucinski traveled to Taiwan for meetings with the manufacturers. In addition to working sessions with the manufacturers, these collision repairers visited numerous factories. These repairers were able to explain how changes in the program were imperative to their industry. As always, the result was continued communication.

1996: In 1996, Clark Plucinski asked Bob Anderson of Anderson’s Auto Repair in Sheffield Lake, OH, to participate in a factory tour and series of information sessions with the manufactures. Again, the efforts of Mr. Plucinski and Mr. Anderson greatly enhanced the understanding of the manufacturers to the needs of collision repairers. In addition, because of Mr. Anderson and Mr. Plucinski’s interest in the process, the manufactures successfully communicated the progress they were making to meet those needs. At the November IICF Beryl Carlew, Kelly Roe, Nick Gojmeric, Kevin Cook, Jerry Dalton, Al Estorga, Jerry Kottschade, John Mock and David Lee Spinoso met with the three largest part manufacturers. Again, these repairers clearly articulated their quality concerns as well as acknowledging the progress needed by the manufacturers.

1997: In Bethesda, Maryland, Clark Plucinski, Rick Paukstitus and many on the staff of True2Form invested thousands of dollars in facility and staff time to meet personally with visiting manufacturers in an all day session with key collision repair leaders. Included in this unique effort was a detailed examination of the shop environment by the manufacturers who were guests of BCP. Because Mr. Paukstitus and staff took the time to detail key aspects of a quality part, the manufacturers gained a better understanding of part quality in the shop. Many times, the 7 key manufacturers who participated expressed appreciation for the efforts of the entire group of collision repairers who also included Tim Adelman, Jim Heger, Al Estorga, and Joe Sanders.

1998: Clark Plucinski participated in another effort to continue what he and his collision repairer colleagues began in 1989. During this, as in prior visits, Mr. Plucinski continued the tradition of open, effective and respectful communication that continues to lead to better quality parts.

While it is easy to criticize, thankfully, for the consumer and quality competitive parts, there have been many in various segments of the industry who have done much more than criticize—they have taken specific action to improve quality. CAPA appreciates the efforts of many collision repair representatives listed above, and the many other industry representatives, have contributed greatly to manufacturer’s understanding of the quality needs in today’s collision repair industry. Their efforts have had a profoundly positive effect on part quality. While it is well known that CAPA receives a great deal of it’s funding from the insurance industry, it has been the collision repair industry which has had the greatest impact on the standards.

Endnote — The efforts of others: In 1999, the Auto Body Parts Association (ABPA), whose efforts established CAPA, continued the communication efforts by inviting Lou DiLisio, Chuck Sulkala and members of the media to visit manufacturers. This grueling, 20-site visit resulted in a detailed report from Lou on his observations as well as the attitude and efforts of the manufacturers. We understand that his visit was extraordinarily well received by the manufacturers. In his report he both acknowledged the quality improvements made to date by the manufacturers and made recommendations on what could be done to continue to improve quality. Mr. Dilisio, and the many collision repairers who have invested considerable time and effort at successfully opening the channels of communication, can take part of the responsibility for the continued improvement in CAPA certified parts.

Contact: Jack Gillis
(202) 737-2212