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Friday August 9

Canadian Collision Industry Forum July Ottawa Meeting: Just Capital

That's how Chairman, Glenn Hickey described the outcome of CCIF's July 27th meeting in Ottawa. "It was good to see such a large turnout of industry supporters from Vancouver to St. John's, but even better to see them working hard in breakout groups," he added.

Aftermarket parts, industry relations, government regulations and attracting staff to the industry were the main topics of the day. Hickey's point about working hard rings true, because a large part of CCIF meetings is dedicated to breakout work groups. After hearing presentations on each topic, the Ottawa crowd split into breakout groups to consider what they had heard and to develop the next action steps.

The aftermarket parts issue has been building quite a head of steam at recent CCIF meetings. This meeting was no exception, as a full agenda of more information was provided. A presentation by aftermarket parts warehouse distributors generated a significant amount of debate during the meeting. In addition, ADP and Mitchell presented information on their respective aftermarket parts pricing tools.

The breakout group discussion delved into what was not known about aftermarket parts, eg. the timing and criteria data provided by suppliers, how to deal with CAPA notices, accuracy of information, clarity of process. So the committee has its work cut out for the next three months as it seeks a clearer understanding of the parts supply process and how uniformly it is applied. An outsider might have been either amused or shocked at the current lack of standardized process for handling quality issues, price updating, install times and guidelines for the use of either aftermarket or OEM parts.

Another group focused its energy on finding ways to communicate industry news. There's no doubt that the collision repair industry is large and diverse and it's difficult to get any message across to all stakeholders. The printed word has its place, but the breakout group recommended finding ways to increase the list of champions - individuals with a wide range of industry contacts, who could be relied on to spread the news and leading edge ideas that come from CCIF and other industry action groups.

Inspired by the morning's presentation from CARS on its career awareness initiatives, the group working on attracting staff to the industry came up with some creative ideas on items for a career promotion tool kit. For example, some sample "help wanted" ads that would be rather more enticing than the often seen, "Body man wanted. Strt immed." Another idea was to list the key questions a young person should ask when considering a career in the collision repair industry. The group also made the point that the industry includes a huge range of jobs in insurance, supplier, wholesaler and service provider companies.

Although a local issue, CCIF participants from across the country listened with interest about the passage of the Collision Repair Standards Bill through the Ontario legislature. The introduction of this Bill and news of the SWAT teams descending on Ontario shops to check on their environmental compliance, was also a topic of interest. Those from other provinces were able to judge for themselves whether the increasing regulatory focus on Ontario shops was something they had already seen or might anticipate in the future. Whilst an informed, professional shop owner should have nothing to fear, it is clear that current legislation is being enforced with unusual speed and vigour.

With its recommendations and actions duly noted, CCIF adjourned to a New Orleans-style restaurant in Ottawa's Byward Market for some fun and relaxation. But on a balmy summer's evening over coconut shrimp and scallops, many participants continued where they had left off - talking about how to make the collision repair industry a better place. Indeed, just capital.

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