Insightful speakers, networking opportunities, a car gifting ceremony by the National Auto Body Council (NABC)® and a tour of Hunter Engineering were all part of the CIECA CONNEX Conference this year. Representatives from all industry segments gathered in St. Louis/St. Charles, Missouri, the week of September 12 for the event.
“The CIECA CONNEX conference was an excellent opportunity to meet and network with leaders from some of the most influential companies in the industry,” said Phil Martinez, CIECA’s Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Senior Technical Consultant at Mitchell International.
“It was great to have representatives from all industry segments join us for discussions about emerging technologies, how they impact the collision industry and what CIECA is doing to prepare for the rapidly-changing business environment,” added Paul Barry, CIECA’s Executive Director.
This year’s theme was "CIECA Next Gen: Evolving to Meet the Needs of the Collision Industry.” Bill Garoutte, President and CEO of NABC, was the master of ceremonies and Greg Horn, Chief Innovation Officer at PartsTrader, gave the keynote address.
Speakers represented all industry segments and talked about industry trends, the digital claims process, and emerging technologies, such as 3D printing, artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain. This year, three OEM representatives participated in a panel discussion focused on the lifecycle of the EV. They included Mark Allen, Audi; Frank Phillips, Rivian; and Jake Rodenroth, Lucid Motors.
Following a day and a half of presentations, CIECA held its open annual meeting. A virtual component of the meeting was also available for those who couldn’t attend in person. CIECA’s Technical Project Manager Paulette Reed and CIECA committee chairs provided updates on the organization’s active committees. A technical summary focused on the development of CIECA Open API Standards (CAPIS) was given by Mike Hastings, Car-Part.com; Andy Bober, Entegral; and Dan Webster, Enlyte.
Conference attendees were eligible to receive credit toward a professional designation from the Automotive Management Institute (AMi).
This year’s Gold sponsors included: FindPigtails.com, Enterprise, IAA and Solera.
Silver sponsors included Allstate, Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA), Axalta, BASF, CCC Intelligent Solutions, Caliber Collision, Car-Part.com, Claim Genius, Comsearch, Innovation Group, LKQ Corporation, Mitchell International, Nexysis, Reparify, Safelite AutoGlass and United Recyclers Group (URG). Media Matters – Collision Repair Magazine was a media sponsor of the event.
A Recycled Rides® car gifting was held by NABC, which partnered with the Missouri Veterans Endeavor charity. St. Louis veteran Chavarria "Chevy" Harris was presented with a KIA Soul, donated by Allstate and repaired by Caliber Collision.
“The National Auto Body Council is all about bringing together all the members of the collision repair industry to help those in need in our communities,” said Garoutte.
Conference attendees also had the opportunity to visit Hunter Engineering. The experience was led by Tom Settle, Director — Field Development & Training, and included a tour of the plant, and an overview of EV industry training, vehicle inspection and ADAS in collision.
A “Save the Date” announcement about CIECA CONNEX 2023 will be sent out over the next few months.