New Jersey Automotive December 2021

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Election, Awards and Education: AASP/NJ Reconnects at Annual Meeting The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey (AASP/NJ) held its Annual Meeting on October 20 at Gran Centurions in Clark, NJ, featuring its Board of Directors election, a special awards ceremony where longtime members were honored and a vital education session delivered by Neal Bobzin and Craig Stevens of CCC. Re-elected Executive Board members include Jerry McNee (Ultimate Collision; Edison) as president, Dennis Cataldo, Jr. (D&M Auto Body; Old Bridge) as collision chairman and Keith Krehel (Krehel Automotive Repair, Inc.; Clifton) as mechanical chairman, in addition to Treasurer Tom Elder (Compact Kars, Inc.; Clarksburg) and Secretary Tom Greco (Thomas Greco Publishing; Nutley). Board member Dave Laganella (Peters Body & Fender; Oakland) will return for another term, and the Board welcomed a new member: Ken Miller (821 Collision; North Haledon). During the special awards ceremony, Tom Elder and Luci Robson presented the Russ Robson Scholarship Award to Gavin Danitz (Compact Kars; Clarksburg). “I’ve been around cars basically my entire life, and I’ve always had a passion for it,” Danitz said. “I love the working environment, I love working on cars, and I love solving problems. I want to continue to better myself, and I’m very honored to have the opportunity to win this award.” The Stan Wilson/New Jersey Automotive Body Shop of the Year Award went to Dennis Cataldo, Jr. of D&M Auto Body in Old Bridge. “The only way we’re going to move forward [as an industry] is if we start working together,” Cataldo encouraged as he accepted his award. “A lot of people throw the word ‘competitor’ around, but I don’t think that we’re really competitors; we have no reason to be in competition with one another. When we’re all working toward moving in the same direction, I think we can really go somewhere.” Alicia Figurelli, senior vice president of Thomas Greco Publishing, became the second woman to be inducted into the AASP/NJ Hall of Fame. “There is no person that I’ve interacted with in this association who has dedicated their life any more intently than Alicia,” AASP/NJ Immediate Past Neal Bobzin President Jeff McDowell (Leslie’s Auto Body; Fords) stated as he presented the award. “When I was president, she was my go-to person – she made all the 22 | New Jersey Automotive | December 2021

Craig Stevens

wheels turn. And she still does. Alicia is the energy behind the association.” “I’m humbled to be included in the company of such an elite group of professionals, many of whom I’m also proud to call my friends,” Figurelli said. “It’s an amazing honor.” AASP/NJ Past President Eddie Day (Collision Restoration; Fairfield) presented the Lee Vetland Lifetime Achievement Award to Tom Elder. “This man has worked tirelessly for the association and has never missed a single meeting,” Day said about Elder. “He puts it all in every day. He’s led numerous committees, and he’s lifted the automotive industry up the best he could for the condition we’re in. He was a groundbreaking shop owner.” “I’m happy to be here serving the industry, and I would like to stay as long as I can do it,” Elder stated. “I’m thrilled and totally surprised to receive this award.” After the awards ceremony, Nicole Lewicki of the Amato Insurance Agency (a division of World Insurance) shared a brief update on the AASP/NJ Health Insurance plan. Keynote speakers Bobzin and Stevens then took the floor to discuss how ELEVATE by CCC helps shops set goals, monitor trends and make decisions to improve their businesses. “When I ask a new client, ‘What’s your goal?’, they don’t tell me ‘to survive,’” Bobzin said. “The goal isn’t to remain flat - they’re looking to grow, or they’re looking to become more attractive for sale. Those higher level goals need to be broken down into the details, and then your employees need to understand the relationship between these particular goals and their responsibilities within the department.” In terms of industry trends, Bobzin honed in on decreasing sales opportunities, vendor delays, staff shortages, CSI decreases and ramping up for a return to normalcy. Exploring the most beneficial ways to market to modern customers, Stevens astutely asked, “You guys deserve the same attention that any other industry gets, so why shouldn’t you have the same tools that any other industry gets?” When discussing vendor delays, Stevens suggested, “The more robust your network of suppliers, the better, and the

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