Schulenburg, Risalvato and Elections Highlight 2013 AASP/NJ Annual Meeting

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Highlighting the importance of education and awareness, AASP/NJ closed out another great year with a full house of members and supporters, family and friends at the association’s 2013 Annual Meeting. Held at the Holiday Inn of Clark, NJ (formerly the Crowne Plaza), the evening was punctuated by a rousing “state of the industry” report from members of the AASP/NJ Executive Committee, awards presentations to several deserving individuals and eye-opening addresses from Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) Executive Director Aaron Schulenburg and New Jersey Gasoline/C-Store/Automotive Association (NJGCA) Executive Director Sal Risalvato.

After a snapshot of AASP/NJ’s activities throughout 2013 and beyond provided by President Jeff McDowell, Treasurer Tom Elder and Executive Director Charles Bryant, the association’s 2013 – 2015 Executive Committee was presented and elected into office. Elected officers include President Jeff McDowell (Leslie’s Auto Body, Fords); Collision Chairman Dave Laganella (Peters Body & Fender, Oakland) and Mechanical Chairman Keith Krehel (Krehel Automotive Repair, Inc., Clifton). Tom Elder (Compact Kars, Clarksburg), Thomas Greco (Allied – Greco Publishing, Nutley), Jerry McNee (Ultimate Collision Repair, Inc., Edison), Anthony Sauta (East Coast Auto Body, Neptune) and Mike Kaufmann (Allied – The Mike Kaufmann Dealer Group, Wayne) were also elected to the AASP/NJ Board of Directors. (The remaining current Board members will be up for election next year, with the entire Board serving staggered terms.) AASP/NJ also honored some very important contributors to the repair industry, inducting Legislative Committee Chair Brian Vesley into the association’s Hall of Fame and presenting longtime Board member Jim Kowalak with a commemorative plaque for his years of service. Additional awards were presented to Holmdel Auto Body (Body Shop of the Year), Pine Top Auto Service (Mechanical Shop of the Year) and Raymond Perez (Russ Robson Memorial Scholarship).

Opening with a statistical snapshot of the realities facing collision repair businesses, Schulenburg’s presentation offered a broad look at issues affecting collision repairers both locally in New Jersey and nationally, including comparisons to size, demographic and performance metrics from as much as a decade ago. Throughout the hour-long discussion, Schulenburg underscored each issue with the importance of being connected to the industry and emerging trends as a mechanism to proactively make well-informed business decisions about the future of members’ individual businesses. With news of mandated parts procurement systems infiltrating the industry on a nearly constant basis, Schulenburg addressed the understandable concern from New Jersey repairers and wholesale parts suppliers with an update on the progress the association is seeing with programs like PartsTrader and APU Solutions, and the emergence of new potential arrangements between other carriers and parts procurement services. As he noted, repairers need to be aware of the big picture; though PartsTrader was live in 9 states and “pending” in another 14 at the time of the meeting, the issue is much more than just one program and one insurer.

Above all, Schulenburg stressed the importance of industry unity, encouraging those in attendance to value all that associations like AASP/NJ and SCRS can do for them – and take advantage of a great deal.

Risalvato expanded upon Schulenburg’s call for unity in his address, which detailed several legislative measures currently in progress and on the horizon that stand to affect the automotive repair industry at-large.

“As in years past, our attendees left tonight’s meeting with a better understanding of the issues affecting their livelihoods,” said McDowell following the conclusion of the evening’s events. “Aaron and Sal discussed a number of concerns that we would be wise to stay on top of, and also made a point of encouraging members to stay educated through membership in associations like AASP/NJ, SCRS and NJGCA. Knowledge is power, and there is truly strength in numbers. The more information we have on hand, the more powerful a voice we will have when it comes time to fight for what we believe. And the more of us who speak with a collective voice, the more likely that someone will listen.”

For more information on AASP/NJ, please visit For more information on NORTHEAST® 2014, visit, the NORTHEAST Automotive Services Show on Facebook, the NORTHEAST Automotive Services Show YouTube page ( or on Twitter @AASPNJNORTHEAST.