IBIS USA overview – an IBIS for the ages

Skills and technology were the driving themes running through IBIS USA 2023 in Nashville last month when the great and good of the North American collision repair industry gathered for what many described as the best conference of its kind they’d ever attended (see box right).

On day one, following an eve-of-conference International Bodyshop Industry Symposium (IBIS) Welcome Reception in partnership with Axalta, Andrew Rose from OnStar Insurance delivered the opening keynote before sitting down for a Q&A with IBIS ambassador Sean Carey.

“It’s not a good time to be in insurance right now,” Rose said in response to an audience question. “The loss ratios are at their worst for more than a decade. At OnStar we want to incentivise customers by finding those who drive safely and reward them with lower insurance premiums.”

Delegates then heard from Ramon Lopez of Allcat Claims Service, who looked at industry trends, relationships, and dynamics in the claims and collision market, including how AI technology has changed the traditional claims process.

“Claims industry dynamics have changed massively. Pre-pandemic we were expense focused; post-pandemic we have become more accuracy focused,” he said before being joined on stage by Hami Ebrahimi from Caliber Collision and Jason Hope from Boyd Group Services Inc./Gerber Collision & Glass, with IBIS Worldwide CEO Jason Moseley moderating.

Ebrahimi said: “One survey I saw said 75% of people who got their cars fixed found that the ADAS systems were no longer working properly. When these safety systems don’t work that creates a whole new set of problems for the customer and the collision shop.”

Next up were sessions involving multiple speakers discussing the ongoing global supply chain issues including. Chad Autry, professor of supply chain management from Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee, suggested: ”With analytics and AI we should be able to predict the types of accidents we can expect … and order parts ahead of time based on these predictions.”

Seth Wilcox, VP of sales, North America at Axalta Refinish, commented: “The pandemic exposed a lot of the inefficiency end-to-end in the supply chain. It’s our responsibility to get out in front of these challenges and address them for our customers.”

Concluding the supply chain sessions, Aaron DeLong from HP Inc and Harold Sears from Imagine Additive Consulting, looked to the future of the automotive supply chain through 3D printing. “Our 3D printers can go anywhere in the country,” DeLong said. “They could be in the collision shop or in a warehouse that services multiple bodyshops. Instead of ordering a part, you would order the digital files and print the required part.”

Following an exclusive networking lunch, IBIS USA 2023 continued with Claudia Morgillo, a professional certified leadership coach and Fix Auto Canada MSO owner, delivering the afternoon keynote on “Prioritising People”. She was then joined on stage by panellists Dave Luehr of Elite Bodyshop Solutions; Stephen Bozer of Fix Auto Tempe; and Paul Sgro of Lees Garage.

Moseley then moderated a conversation in which Molly Mahoney from Collision Engineering; Dara Goroff from I-CAR; Amber Ritter from Collision Repair Education Foundation; and Jennifer Maher of TechForce Foundation discussed recruitment, diversity and retention.

Goroff said: “If you want to attract diverse young talent, you need to find out what they want, get in front of the people who influence or advise them, and deliver the right messaging about what working in a collision shop is really about.”

The final session on the first full day at IBIS USA continued the staffing and skills debate under the theme “Recognising Talent”. Panellists Jason Bartanen from Collision Hub; Erin Suchara from 3M; and Max Sorensen from Caliber Collision joined Moseley to discuss career paths, direction and leadership.

Bartanen said: “To attract new people we need to change our behaviour in the shop. We are competing against every other industry so to stand out we need to be the most attractive and offer a workplace and a career path that people want.”

Day two at IBIS USA 2023 was all about vehicle and repair technology. The day opened with I-CAR’s Scott Kaboos and Joel Dufkis delivering in-person presentations about two EVs: “Don’t assume you know the ADAS on one vehicle because you have worked on a similar one – even within the same brand or even within the same model series.”

The pair were then joined by Chris Chesney of Repairify with Andrew Marsh beaming in from the UK, along with Adam Thurman of EV Bodyshops, who said: “My advice to anyone thinking of specialising like we have is to understand the product by spending time with the methods. The same goes for the equipment, software and diagnostics because without that you should stay away from repairing electric vehicles.”

IBIS USA 2023 concluded with a summary discussion between Moseley and I-CAR’s Jeff Peevy, who commented: “The technology in our industry has shifted right out from under us and we haven’t even acknowledged that yet. We need to be looking for young people who can work with their hands as well as their brains.”