Executive Director Jeff Lovell says aftermarket coming together to provide solutions and answers in wake of coronavirus
Lakewood, Wash.—As the Covid-19 coronavirus continues to affect many people across the country, it has also sparked severe measures including cancelations and postponements of events, including ASA Northwest’s Automotive Training Expo (ATE), which was to have taken place this week. It will now take place July 31-Aug. 2, at its longtime venue, the Doubletree SeaTac Airport Hotel.
“It feels like we’re at ground zero here,” said ASA Northwest Executive Director and President Jeff Lovell during an ASA podcast last week. “The governor closed down any event with 250 people or more, and we had 1,000 attendees coming.”
Since that time, the state has now limited meetings to 50 people or less and ASA Northwest has canceled all chapter meetings for April.
“A lot went into getting the new date,” he said. “In a four-hour period we spoke with our trainers, sponsors and the hotel to find the best dates to get everyone back here for the training classes. It happened fast and we were able to get 95 percent of our trainers back, which we’re excited about.”
All attendees have been notified, though all won’t be able to reschedule to the new date. Lovell noted, however, that ASA Northwest’s other annual training event, ATE East, Oct. 23-24, at the Doubletree Hotel in Spokane, is available as an alternative.
“Everyone has been super about all of this and the situation. Our life has changed and it’s affected everyone throughout the country at some level. Our sponsors and exhibitors have been wonderful in working with us and supportive of what we’re doing.”
Some ASA Northwest members have reported to Lovell that shop business is down while others have stated their workload has remained at normal levels.
“It’s affected some people more than others,” he said. “Everyone is reaching out to help others less fortunate — and that’s what we’re all about in this country as well as right here in ASA. We support our membership, their business needs and becoming a resource for them to call so they get answers to their questions.”
ASA Northwest members with questions or concerns are encouraged to contact the association and tap into its resources by calling 253-473-6070. “The biggest problem our shops are facing now is keeping their employees in their jobs and keeping bays busy.”
Lovell added that shops can be proactive and let their customers know there are services available to them for vehicle repair, such as free towing and pick up and delivery.
“We can also assure customers that their cars are being sanitized, from the steering wheel to the shifter and driver-side doors, inside and out.
“Shops are also using electronic signatures for work approvals. Consumers don’t even have to enter a shop to get their vehicles fixed.” Lovell has been with ASA Northwest for almost 20 years, and he recalled how the association was still able to stage an event just days after 9/1l.
“This feels a lot like that, right now. We’re going to keep monitoring the situation, but we think those new dates for ATE will hold. We’re doing everything we can to keep membership and attendees safe.”
To listen to ASA’s podcast featuring Jeff Lovell being interviewed by ASA’s Tony Molla, click here.