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All hands on deck makes first-ever collision training event a success

NWACA’s inaugural Collision Training Expo last month welcomed collision shops for a full day of training, now sets eye on next year

Lakewood, Wash.—Collision shop vendors contacted their customers. Shops in the area were blanketed with email notifications. Northwest Auto Care Alliance members were alerted. Alliance committees and staff worked the phones.

The mission was to generate interest and attendance for NWACA’s first-ever Collision Training Expo (CTE) that took place last month at Collision Training Expo (CTE) at Clover Park Technical College in Lakewood, Wash. (See photos below)

“It was on all fronts — we had a lot of people getting the word out and it took everybody to put it together,” said Micah Strom, Northwest Auto Care Alliance (NWACA) collision chair and co-owner of Modern Collision Rebuild & Service in Bainbridge Island, Wash.

Those combined efforts led to a successful inaugural event, as shops from the Lakewood region and beyond turned up for a full day of various training. And while there were more NWACA members in attendance than non-members, the event also sparked interest for joining the association in response to its success.

“We had five collision shops join NWACA as a result,” Strom said. “They realized the benefits that we offer. We had great feedback from attendees, including what they would like to see next year and what can be improved on — and 95 percent of the feedback gave us five stars, saying we had great classes, training and facility setup.”

Strom told Aftermarket Matters Weekly that CTE has been in the planning process for a year. “We have members in both mechanical and collision, and we had one of our top collision shops backing out of membership because they didn’t see a lot of value for their segment. As an owner of a collision shop, myself, I tended to agree with him. While NWACA has discount programs for everyone to take advantage of — and the ATE for mechanical training — there was nothing available in terms of training for collision shops. It’s been a long road getting here through a team effort.”

There was a strong focus on training for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and diagnostics, as well as classes such as “Do We Manage Our Business from a Check Book?” “Estimating & Damage Analysis,” “OEM Adhesives for Today’s Vehicles,” “Welding Technology & Advanced Metals,” and “Blueprinting and Measuring for the Body Technician,” which is a hands-on class. Also featured was a shop owner roundtable for discussion and answering attendee questions.

CTE sponsors and instructors included 3M, CCC, ALLDATA, ATI, Velitek, LDC Equipment, 1-800-Radiator & A/C, P Tech Payments, and Wesco. The event also included an exhibitor area with a two-hour lunch to allow attendees to discuss collision-related business with vendors.

“We were ecstatic the way everthing turned out.,” Strom said. “And we’re already looking forward to next year.”

Those interested in participating in next year’s CTE as an attendee, a trainer or a sponsor, contact Brenda Wolslegel at (253)-653-2334 or by email at 

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