MACS + NARSA…
So Near And Yet So Far
Clearly the big news to date in 2003 of the automotive
radiator and A/C service industry is the failure of MACS and NARSA to either merge or consolidate. The burden of structuring the plan for such a combined organization fell on the shoulders of former MACS Chairman, Jim Resutek, and NARSA President, Daryl Bippert. To work that hard for a year and a half—cajoling and convincing the cynics and obstructionists, massaging the delicate egos, etc.—only to have their efforts go unfulfilled at the last minute—has to be disheartening.
What happened? On April 10th, MACS emailed a press release and posted it to
this page on their web site
explaining that NARSA pulled out of the deal. While the “due diligence” portion is a little mumbo jumboish, it indicates that a snag in the management structure was the deal breaker. Most likely it’s about who will actually preside over the organization: will there be one person at the top, or will there be co-directors? Here’s an
“Though compromises were reached with regard to many terms in the draft agreement and plan of consolidation that allowed the discussions between MACS and NARSA to continue, the operational management of any consolidated organization is a critical issue to MACS. NARSA has advised MACS that its Board is unwilling to agree to MACS' proposal on that issue as set forth in the agreement and plan of consolidation proposed by MACS' Board of Directors.”
As you can imagine, NARSA has a different version. Here’s an excerpt from their April 15th release:
“In a statement to NARSA’s manufacturing members, Bippert expressed surprise and disappointment that MACS issued a press release on April 10, 2003 that contained a headline and content that implied that NARSA was responsible for the failure of these merger discussions. ‘ This is blatantly untrue,’ said Daryl Bippert. ‘It is unfortunate that MACS is pointing the finger of blame at NARSA because such accusation can lead those in our industry to incorrectly hold NARSA responsible for the failure of these talks. For those of us on both negotiating teams who worked for many months to try and make this merger a reality, it is an affront to our hard work and dedication.’”
Thumbnail, click for full image.
Above: MACS: Early morning technician discussion session moderated by (facing from left) Paul Weissler, Paul DeGuiseppi and Ward Atkinson. Everyone can ask questions and provide answers.
Below: John Brunner circulates the mike to all who will speak.
It seems to be a case of “what did we really say, or hear each other say, and therefore mean at the start of the negotiations?” Rumors whispered at the NARSA Convention in San Diego warned of an impending conflict. No one has put it in writing, but it sounds like NARSA’s Board felt that the two current respective directors of the organizations should be co-directors of the new organization. Evidently, MACS wanted their director at the top, with NARSA’s director taking the number two spot.
A roadblock at the Board of Directors level was inevitable if the following arguments had been made. NARSA: “Hey, this is a Consolidation, not a take over. We’ve been around for 50 years—we’re not going to give up control of our association now.” MACS: “We’re a larger organization and our conventions and trade shows pull in more registrants ($), we should logically be in charge of the resulting organization.” Note that NARSA’s Board is controlled by service shop owners, MACS’ Board is made up of industry vendors and service shops.
A lot was riding on this consolidation. It’s no secret that the prime convention $ponsor$ (manufacturers and distributors) were counting on it. Anticipating a successful consolidation, some have probably already budgeted for only one Radiator-A/C trade show in 2004. Their options are: 1) find more money for the extra trade show (next to impossible in this economy), 2) split the budgeted money between the two and have a paltry showing at both, or 3) go to one only and risk being seen as non-supportive of the other. Not a nice decision to have to make.
What do the $ponsor$ provide at conventions and trade shows? Money. They kick in thousands to tens of thousands of dollars to pay for special events, presenters, meals, hors d'oeuvres, parties, entertainment, door prizes, awards, etc. In addition, their booth rent pays for the use of the facilities. Yes, as a member and attendee, you too are paying for the event. But traditionally, annual trade shows generate the big bucks that keep the association doors open during the rest of the year.
Above: NARSA: Panel of coolant industry experts answers questions and dispels myths about antifreeze.
MACS: Amalgatech’s Ed Eaton brings everyone up to date on status of antifreeze/coolants.
Controversy from the start
Even with strong pressure from the vendors (manufacturers and distributors), the failures of previous MACS-NARSA and IMACA-NARSA merge attempts indicated that this one could be very difficult to pull off. Consequently, in a “Fair and Balanced” manner, Cool Profit$ started a 3-question email poll to get a feel for the outcome while allowing all sides to speak their mind. We intended to have this article out before the final vote was put to the members. Now, after the breakdown, we’re still presenting the original poll responses, but have added some comments on that development too. All of the responses were published as they might possibly help in any future negotiations for these or other associations. The rest of the article is made up of the poll results, a review of possible options for MACS, NARSA and other automotive associations, and, the Cool Profit$ Magazine ideal
Automotive Heat Transfer Service Association (AHTSA).
MACS: Results presented for a 2002 Coolant Survey. (Less than 30% of respondents use recycled coolant.)
Poll Question 1:
How do you feel about the impending MACS-NARSA merger, are you Pro, Con or Neutral, and why?
Here are the responses. They were edited minimally for spelling and syntax.
1. I am pro. Ron
2. I don't see the need to do this. I think that the trade show and convention this year for MACS at least was watered down by the coolant symposium. I think that the fact that NARSA is not a well ran organization and has had a massive amount of loss of interest ought to be a clue for MACS to stay away. What makes MACS work is their ability to be influential in the legislature as lobbyists. MACS currently works for the A/C industry, but the more watered down it gets, the more like NARSA they will be. Boring and uninfluential is not necessary. Gaining the dwindling numbers from the ranks of NARSA is not going to make MACS more influential.
If MACS wants to stay cutting edge and keep their success perpetuated, I believe that they need to focus now on supporting their quality membership by lobbying to get the laws enforced. They have done a very good job of getting the laws passed, but enforcement is another issue and probably more important for fair competition and profitability.
MACS: The “Future of Mobile Air Conditioning” seminar. Ever since the phase out of R-12, this presentation is one of the reasons for the convention.
NARSA is past its time and is failing because of it. Radiators for automotive use has hit a point where repair is not always profitable, and when it is profitable for the shop the customer is profited only by borrowed time in most cases, not true dollars. Equipment and heavy truck is really the only legitimate purpose of a radiator shop. I really think that what has made NARSA non-influential is that they have not forced or even encouraged industry to step up the r&d for the future. All coolants produced today are made from the same ethylene glycol they were in yester year with a difference of color and extenders. There are 99% more electrical system requirements since the advent of the 12-volt system, and thus cause and concern for addressing the hypothetical? (I don't think so) problem of electrolysis. If NARSA were a truly legit fellowship, they would lobby the coolant manufacturers to either make a different base coolant fluid or at least force them to formulate an additive to eliminate the positive charge from a system with electrolysis. I'm really surprised that OE has not forced this issue yet. It's not about the coolant components that fail that appears to be the problem (unless you talk to Modine and others with proof of the failures). It is about electrical system failures, due in part to a loss of ground and positive charge to the coolant.
MACS and NARSA - Handouts: Valuable, must-have A/C training and tech tip books distributed (for free) by Standard Motor Products and Delphi.
I say no and encourage at least the AC industry to say no to the watering down of the AC information that is available to us from the group that has of late been helping us in the world market. MACS doesn't need it and NARSA shouldn't be using MACS like a drowning swimmer holding onto a lifeguard. That's all I have to say.
John Strain owner 'Air Care Professionals' and 'Rad-AC Parts Supply and Repair'
MACS: Toyota again handed out an informative CD. (But you had to be there to get it.)
Below: Sample illustration.
3. PRO! We are brothers in the cooling system industry. MACS brings an enormous body of technical info from and strong links directly to the OEM. NARSA has a strong direct link and channels to get to the techs in the field. We both can learn and benefit from sharing.
4. NEUTRAL: Before making their final decision, NARSA should remember that MACS will not place the specific needs of radiator technicians as the priority because MACS is a manufacturer's association. Remember that MACS was founded in the early 1980's as the mobile a/c technician's alternative to IMACA. Techs wanted an association that would dedicate its attention to their needs instead of manufacturers and their distributors. But money & politics had their way. MACS & IMACA soon looked just alike, because techs had not done a good job in the political defense of their organization. NARSA members should keep in mind that Manufacturer's associations practice protectionism, such as not allowing an open forum for editorials within their newsletters & other public media unless first censored by those who are in charge.
NARSA: Damon Industries and Tanks A Lot combine to build a Charge Air Cooler cleaning system. Damon’s Mike Young explains benefits to Ed Marashian, Jr., of Ed’s Radiator, Fresno, CA.
NARSA members must choose which side of the line they are on. Techs need technical input from manufacturers, and manufacturers need technicians to provide feedback, plus sell & install their products.
Techs do not need manufacturers to claim to represent them in legislative matters, nor to hinder the free exchange of their ideas & opinions inside, and outside the organization. In a technician’s organization, when manufacturers are present, they are the invited guests. They do not vote, nor make decisions on behalf of the association, because it is not their place. I just hope that the membership of NARSA will understand these distinctions before they vote.
MACS: Neutronics demonstrated their QuickDetect™, a new A/C system sealer detector. Above is one of the components.
And, whether they merge or not doesn't matter to me one way or the other because they are the ones who are going to have to live with it. My membership in MACS has been longstanding, and you might ask, “Why I would maintain such membership?” It might be said that I belong to the “loyal opposition”, but to me it’s more like what Lyndon Johnson supposedly said of Fidel Castro, “yea, he's an SOB...but he's our little SOB”. My hope is that MACS will change its current policies from a closed to an open forum, and make the needs of technicians its top priority. But, then it would be a “Technicians Association” again! We'll see.
John Noble, President, Cool Flow, Inc, Houston, Texas
5. If a merger is what it takes to keep NARSA afloat, then so be it. Us radiator men need NARSA…whether some of us know it or not. Membership is down, so the $$$ needed to operate the association is down too. If the merger keeps us afloat, then so be it, I’m for it.
Ham (Larry Hamilton, B And H Radiator Service, Las Vegas, NV 702-642-7222)
6. I have no problem with this. I am sure that it will make both organizations stronger.
Ron Hovestad, Auto Check Radiator and Cooling
Ltd, J-11 Cliff St, Nanaimo BC Canada V9T 1G7 250-714-1997
7. I am all for the merger.
1) MACS originally started out of the NARSA group to begin with.
2) Most NARSA members are also MACS members.
3) We would hopefully be able to wrap 2 conventions into one JUMBO event for better attendance and to be able to see COMPLETE COOLING SYSTEM parts, tools and supplies.
4) MACS would have never pulled out of NARSA to begin with if it hadn't been for LARGE EGOS!
Ray Trammel – President, RJR Radiator,
NARSA: Tanks A Lot premiered their new radiator positioner, “The Radalak.”
8. Very much in favor. Regards, Harrel
9. Jones Automotive, Inc. has been a member of MACS for many years and attended many of the conventions and benefited from the Tech Bulletins, the Journals etc.
We were also members of IMACA and attended the conventions as well and benefited from the Shop Talk, bulletins etc.
We were for the merger of those two trade groups and we were for the merger of both of them with NARSA and now we are still for the merger of MACS and NARSA.
We are convinced that a merger will result in the creation of a stronger more beneficial Trade Association and it will benefit everyone involved. Even though we do not repair radiators, we do replace radiators and trouble-shoot cooling system problems and we feel that the more we know about cooling systems the better we will be at diagnosing and repairing air conditioners and heaters.
NARSA: Audio tapes of all seminars are for sale from Master Duplicators. Great way to catch up if you were unable to get to the convention.
MACS: Audio CDs are available from Automobile Video, Inc., 800-718-7246. www.auto-video.com.
The conventions will offer more for our money.
We vote “yes.” Ken Johnson, Jones Automotive,
Inc., 1223 S 20 St, Omaha NE 68108-3492 402-345-8383
10. We feel that we have gotten the benefits from both associations. We feel that if they merge that it would cut the cost on meetings and conventions. We feel that if the convention was longer in duration that you could have the A/C at the beginning or end and the radiator portion at the beginning or end and then if people didn't want to attend the entire time then they would know the dates of the portion they could attend.
NARSA, A\C Training: Standard Motor Products’ Royce Wolfe checks out an A/C system by first measuring evaporator, condenser and vent temps. Wolfe showed three different tools that could be used. With remote sensors, they allow the tech to stand in one place and read all temps at once.
The one below is from CPS Products of Hialeah, FL.
It might hurt some people working for the associations because they would cut back on employees, but that could happen at any company they might work for.
Bill Rickermann, Affton Radiator & A/C, St. Louis, MO member of MACS & NARSA.
MACS, above: Pat O’Brien’s’ Balcony on Bourbon Street, from the street.
Below: Bourbon Street from Pat O’Brien’s’ Balcony.
11. Con to the merger. I am happy with Macs the way it is. Radiators are not a part of my business.
12. I am all for the merger if it means more technical hands on useful information for us instead of the usual new car stuff MACS has been shoving down our throats for the last 4 or 5 years.
Ben Altman, Automotive Air, Inc., Beaufort, SC 29906
13. I am FOR the merger, since I believe that it will strengthen both the radiator and air conditioning industries. Having a better-combined national convention, which should provide more and better information to all involved, will do this. Also, a much larger trade show will be a result of the merger.
Johnny Hollins, Whitton Radiators and
Mufflers, 1441 Reynolds St., Augusta, GA 30901
14. Hi Folks: I firmly believe that any merger is beneficial because it allows attendees to visit with more vendors and associates at one convention. Quite honestly, the NARSA staff operates a very good association and puts on a great show. However, the vendors that exhibit are regular contacts that we speak with weekly, and for that reason cost justification becomes a hurdle.
I think that a merger may even go further. If NARSA/MACS merges, it is a step in the right direction. But to take it one step further may be worth looking at. How about NARSA and MACS retain their autonomy, but run the annual convention in conjunction with the
SEMA/ASIA /MEMA (Editor: AAPEX too) show in Vegas each year in November. Most, if not all of the NARSA vendors attend this show as well. Separate show agendas can be maintained for NARSA members, including the Tech sessions, and social functions. A separate NARSA headquarters will be there to focus on NARSA members. This removes the cost hurdle to both vendors and shop owners since many of these people/companies go to the SEMA show every year. It also minimizes the time away from the shop or office.
Any merger is good provided it benefits the member, and I can't see how partnering up with the largest North American Association can hurt. Again, control of the smaller NARSA association can be maintained, as did the Tire and Performance Associations when they merged.
Scott Brooks, Vice President Sales & Marketing, Cancore Industries Inc.
15. Main question: Neutral. John Martin, American Tire
Service, Muskogee, OK 74401
16. I am Pro Merger; my feeling is it will give us a larger base of Manufacturers, Jobbers, and Wholesalers to draw on. It will also give us a much larger Trade Show, as well as more training to draw on. Education, Education, Education!!!!!
John Miller, The Air Shop, 1351 E Borchard Ave., Santa Ana, Ca 92705 714-285-0108
17. I’m opposed to THIS plan because:
A. NARSA’s Board has always been composed of repair shops and service installers. This proposed association’s Board would be made up of Manufactures, W/Ds and radshops/service installers. Will the radshops/service installers be represented properly with only 1/3 of the vote in the administration of an association? Remember, 85% of NARSA members are radshops and/or service installers.
B. The new bylaws would divide the association into three groups: Manufactures, W/Ds, and Service installers. But there are no concise guidelines designating which group a member will fall into. This has the potential to allow the board to become tilted. Historically, whenever we’ve tried a tiered dues structure, it didn’t work. With manufacturers and W/Ds paying higher dues, they will try to move into the installer group causing competition for those Board seats. It could further unbalance the Board.
C. The proposed board structure mirrors that of MACS. There are 7000 radiator shops in the USA and Canada. Of those 7000, NARSA has a little over 1000 members (about 1 in 7). With 55,000 A/C shops out there, MACS members account for 1200 (only 1 in 55). Why the difference? Maybe the NARSA Board’s makeup gives their members more voice in the association. This is evident in our regional representation to the board of directors (lacking in MACS’ Board).
NARSA: Sacramento, CA core maker Auto-Core, displayed their replacement core for the original liquid cooled P-51 Mustang.
D. Regional chairman have been instrumental in running all aspects of NARSA. In the merged organization, they will no longer have a vote on the Board. Why is it beneficial for the service shops if the manufacturers and W/Ds have a greater voice in running a "service association"?
E. Of the 1000 plus members in NARSA, approximately 700 members also do A/C service. But, of those 700, only 200 are members of MACS (and many are Manufacturers). Why don’t the other 500 become MACS members? How much value do they put on a MACS membership?
F. The main reason for a merger is to have one trade show and reduce vendor’s expenses. There are other ways to reduce costs without a complete merger. Why is our Board catering to a very small fraction of the association membership?
G. I believe our industry today is less profitable overall because of the fierce competition between the manufactures and W/D’s. Now we are proposing to give them the majority of seats on the Board (of a service installer association). I have a problem with that.
While it sounds like I am opposed to a merger, I am not. I truly feel that a merger is in the best interest of both associations. The advantages are clearly a larger membership base, greater assets, merging of two great staffs, only one magazine, lowering real property expenditures and on and on. But it has to be in NARSA member’s favor, or the plan is faulted. I’m not convinced that THIS plan is in the best interest of a NARSA member.
Darrell Sallee, Auto-Kool, Hermiston, OR
18. The consolidation of MACS and NARSA is a very good thing for members of both organizations. With one annual show, participants will enjoy better venues and stronger presentations. For the vendors, it means increased visibility and reduced costs.
Layne Gobrogge, Transpro Inc.
19. The MACS NARSA merger is good. However, they should try to reduce the selling aspect, they’re getting too commercial.
Dan Brickson, Dan’s Peoria Radiator, Peoria, AZ
Poll Question 2:
For current or former association members, are you getting the benefits you seek from either or both of these associations (trade show and convention included): Yes, No and Why?
1. YES. I have always got what I went after from NARSA and Macs (when I was a member of Macs) Anyone that goes to a NARSA meeting and comes home without any input to make their business better, “ain't payin attenshun.”
Ham (Larry Hamilton, B And H Radiator Service, Las Vegas, NV 702-642-7222)
2. I subscribed to Narsa for a year or two. I found that it really did nothing for me here in Canada. The conventions in Canada suck and so I have decided to join MACS for the AC info. I plan on going to Florida for the Jan 2004
convention...Ron Hovestad, Auto Check Radiator and Cooling Ltd, Nanaimo BC Canada
3. I only belong to MACS presently. I feel strongly that we do not get the information that most of us are looking for when we attend MACS conventions. Don’t get me wrong, MACS is a great organization and has many useful functions. But we need more practical, hands-on type training on 3 and 4 year old vehicles, not the vehicles that are coming off the assembly line this year or next. I usually lose that information before I have the need to use it.
I understand that NARSA is more technician-oriented than MACS and I am hopeful that this new organization will steer back in that direction.
Ben Altman, Automotive Air, Inc., Beaufort, SC 29906
4. Yes, I have yet to ask for something that I haven’t received at least an answer for. How much more can we ask?
John Miller, The Air Shop, Santa Ana, CA
5. I am a Contracting Officer/Buyer for the State of Virginia, Department of Military Affairs. I am also a Construction Engineer that takes a project from the 'gleam in someone's eye's' to turning over the keys...including Vehicle Maintenance Shops.
In my private life, I have for years been an aircraft and automotive A/C mechanic and have been CEO of an HVAC (Residential & Commercial) Company. I am also MACS “Universal” Certified (probably one of its “Older” members).
Being in the position I am and have been, I see a lot of changes in the “TRADES” today that are not very promising. It would appear that those young folk who don't go on to college are not really interested in earning a living in the “TRADES” these days...the majority living off society and their parents. I don't blame them...I blame the “TRADES” and Manufacturer's lack of ability in generating enough “interest” in a valuable service to our communities. I blame the “Owners” for paying more attention to the bottom line than insuring that proper training is made available for their mechanics. The “Old Liners” need to get off their duffs and accept responsibility for their respective 'up-and-comers'. If MACS/NARSA is really interested in fulfilling their “purpose” in life, then maybe they ought to be spending more time and money on advertising/attracting future mechanics into the field. It is virtually impossible to find properly trained and motivated “mechanics” in smaller communities. In the larger communities/cities, their shops are usually expensive, understaffed and over-scheduled. So, if MACS/NARSA is not to disappear into oblivion...then maybe they need to concentrate on the future of the industry and how to attract and keep good mechanics. And, all of us ought to begin respecting our “fellows” no matter what our specialty.
Maybe we will be having this conversation again some day when the MACS/NARSA Organization is so big that it needs to split, or maybe it will be so efficient working together on the above suggestions that it needs to actually become an organization structured like the KIWANIS. Thanks again for your time and indulgence and have a great day.
Roderick L. McAllister VCO, VCCO,
Facilities Design & Construction Engineer -1 Department of Military Affairs.
Poll Question 3: For non-members, what services and/or benefits would cause you to join/rejoin either or both associations?
1. I have enjoyed both MACS and NARSA trade shows and seminars even though I am not a member of either organization. I am a 1-person operation and the dues are too high for me. I would like to see the merger because then I wouldn't have to choose between one and the other. Thanks,
Garold Bliss, Bliss Radiator/ Mobile A/C Repair
2. Yes. But remember, you only get the benefits if you seek them out, and, participate in association activities. They won't fall in your lap.
3. Yes, I am getting the benefits I seek from both associations…so why not wrap them into one!
Ray Trammel – President, RJR Radiator,
4. I once considered joining MACS; I was not convinced that the benefits were in line with the costs.
John Martin, American Tire Service, Muskogee, OK 74401
Poll Question 4 (after talks end): What’s your reaction to the breakdown?
1. I'm extremely disappointed with both the MACS and NARSA Boards that they were unable
to achieve agreement on something so critical to our industry. I only hope that this was not due to personal differences between the Board members, who are sworn to represent the best interests of their members.
Harrel Alcorn, General Manager, Behr Service America, L P
2. I find it very discouraging that neither the membership of MACS nor NARSA had an opportunity to vote on the proposed merger. Based on recent letters that I have received from both associations, it appears that there might be a difference of opinion, attitudes and personalities on their boards. In my opinion, this merger should have gone through for the betterment of both associations. Doing so would have allowed for one large trade show/convention that would benefit both the shop members as well as the vendors.
It would be interesting to know the percentage of radiator shops that are doing both radiator as well as A/C work. Also, if anyone from either association is interested, they can ask to see the original charter of incorporation from when MACS was formed. At that time, it was made up of probably 90% radiator men, who also did A/C service, that decided to form this new group called MACS. Thank you.
Ray Trammel MACS/NARSA member
3. Although I am personally disappointed that the MACS/NARSA consolidation did not come to fruition, I think the plan that was offered to NARSA was a fair, equitable and reasonable plan of consolidation to both parties under the circumstances. I also think that the plan offered a satisfactory proposal for managing any consolidated organization in these difficult times and would permit the services being provided to the members of the consolidated entity to remain at the current level being supplied to members of MACS.
Andrew R. Fiffick, CEO, Rad Air Complete Car Care & Service Centers.
Association options: What happens now?
Both MACS and NARSA have suffered somewhat from declining memberships. What are their options now?
MACS. To their credit, MACS was able to register more participants at their 2003 New Orleans show this year than ever before at that venue (which was several thousand more than the number attending NARSA’s San Diego national). Much of MACS’ rapid growth in the ‘90s was fueled by the changeover from R-12 to R-134a and the complex EPA regulations that came with it. R-134a meant retrofitting, recovery, alternative refrigerants, flammable refrigerants, new oils, etc. MACS also benefits because virtually all new cars and trucks delivered in the US in recent years come with factory air. That latter assures continued A/C service opportunities, and subsequent shop and technician interest.
But will there ever be such an intense drive for A/C information again as with R-134a’s introduction? Maybe not, but the need for information about increasingly complex, electronic-computer controlled HVAC systems and related diagnostics, certainly seems to be enough to sustain an independent association like MACS, for several more years. Plus, with coolant discussions starting at their 2000 convention, they’ve shown a willingness to venture into engine cooling. They would have no problem of becoming a “full line” mobile heat transfer service organization. With such a successful format, now it’s a matter of replication while maintaining quality.
NARSA. Clearly, a radiator-only, especially a radiator repair-only organization is not on a growth track. While it’s a too early to tell, NARSA may be forced to rethink its convention schedule. If the current commentary coming from the large vendors continues, and their support wanes, severe cutbacks, at least in the annual event, are likely. Yes, it may be able to survive for several years, but it most certainly would not be able to deliver the grandeur of past trade shows.
However, as voiced by a long-time NARSA member, NARSA can function just fine with regional ed/tech sessions. He says he’s probably not the only member who doesn’t go for the Saturday night gala events, and that there are many NARSA members who would be happy to have a less glamorous—and less costly—annual affair. Forget the big name hotels with big name entertainment; meals would be less costly or not provided at all. Of course, regionals mean extra expense for radiator repair equipment and service vendors, especially those with no regional representatives.
NARSA could also look to the Automotive Air Group’s
autonomous structure as a possibility. They have no paid staff, and officers are volunteers. It’s a drastic step for sure, but as radiator repair becomes more of a niche business, this is a way for specialty folks to get together.
What about NARSA looking for another organization with which to merge? After all, three strikeouts ends an inning, not the ball game. Are there other possible mates out there? While a long way from a perfect match, one possibility is aligning with an organization like AAIA/AAPEX/SEMA/MEMA. They all gather each November for one gigantic convention and trade show in what’s now known as Industry Week. It would take some fancy shoehorning to squeeze radiator repair into the mix, but cooling system service is a natural. A big upside is that all of the larger heat exchanger, tools and equipment vendors will already be there. It could prove less profitable for smaller, specialty vendors however.
Of course, if someone as large as AAIA (Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association) were to focus on radiators and heat exchangers as a specialty part of their structure, would they not want to make the reach to air conditioning at the same time? Again, all of the major A/C vendors will already be signed up for that show. In this article, before the breakdown, I had alluded that the next step for a consolidated of MACS/NARSA was to visit with AAIA.
Automotive Heat Transfer Service Association (AHTSA)
Putting it all together, here’s my makeup for the “ideal” radiator, cooling system and cabin climate control (A/C) organization for shop owners, technician and vendors (distributors and manufacturers).
First of all, the function of the organization is to provide training and education to technicians and shop owners. The vendors, who profit by having access to a gathering of their potential customers, are able to introduce and sell new products and services. Nothing really different from what happens today. The manufacturers are there to coddle the distributors and service shops. The distributors are there to pressure the manufacturers and coddle the service shops. The shops are there to try to bypass the distributors and buy direct from the manufacturers…I’m joking!
The difference is that since an AHTSA convention is very heavily service oriented, at least 80% of the seminars should deal directly with service. OEs like GM, Ford, Daimler-Chrysler and Toyota are absolutely invited to participate. However, what they’ll be asked to present is a recap of the latest service work that’s been coming through their dealer organization. In a 2004 AHTSA convention, Nissan would, via nice power point presentation, explain the major engine cooling and air conditioning repairs done last year to 1999 through 2001 Maximas, Sentras and Altimas. It would include clear photos, diagrams, drawings and parts lists to facilitate those repairs. In addition, it would include all the special tips and tricks that you know they’ve learned after a model has been out for 3+ years. Each seminar attendee would receive a copy of that presentation on a CD. Of course, Ford would cover their Crown Vics, Contours, Mustangs, Escorts, E-series vans, Expeditions, etc. The presenters would all start off by saying: “Here’s what we’ve learned about our vehicles,” or, “here’s how to make extra money by saving time over the book’s listed time.” Tell me that every mechanic worth his or her salt wouldn’t want to be there; you couldn’t afford NOT to attend!
Manufacturers and distributors, you may not read the rest of this article. Please turn the page.
Now that it’s just us shops, here’s the deal. We all know that the vendors have the big bucks. What you want is for them to: 1) help pay for your show, and 2) really help you make money. Ways to do that are described above. But, they may not want to give you that information (even though they claim to need independents because they can’t handle all of the service business that’s coming in their dealer’s shops). Instead, they’ll impress you by showing the latest and greatest technology coming off the assembly line next fall. Don’t accept it. Take control of the committee that establishes the study sessions and ask for what you want to see. It’s possible that they’ve not thought of presenting service classes on 4-6 year old vehicles to you, and all you’ll have to do is ask.
Fear of Vendor Control
To close out this monster (6200+ word) article, here’s a final thought to ease the minds of those NARSA members alarmed at the possibility of having their association controlled by vendors. Fear not, if a future MACS-NARSA, or any other association is not giving you what you want, then quit. If they’re supposed to be a service oriented association, and they can’t keep service shops as members, how long do you think the vendors will continue to support it?
Participate—tell them what you want
Don’t just quit an association without first giving them a chance to serve. You owe them an explanation of exactly what it is you expect for your dues. If you don’t ask, chances of getting what you want are pretty slim.
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Recap: It was the second time to the alter for MACS and NARSA’s third attempt at merging. It fell through before the rank-and-file got to vote. What were the the thoughts of members before the vote, and after, and
where can they go from here?
“Embedded” in this article are the sights of the MACS and NARSA 2003 Conventions.
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