The bodyshop industry in the Republic and Northern Ireland turned out in force this week to support the ABP Club Ireland National Meetings and Expos, which were held at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin and the Lagan Valley Island Centre, Lisburn.
Ireland’s first ever ABP Club Ireland National Meeting and Expo, sponsored by PPG took place at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, on Wednesday and was hailed as a resounding success with upwards on 160 guests in attendance.
The Meeting and Expo moved to Lisburn Valley Island Centre on Thursday, where another large crowd attended.
The Meetings and Expos brought together large numbers of bodyshop owners and managers, with suppliers to the bodyshop sector, along with other stakeholders in the industry such as insurers, trade associations, inspection and assessment bodies etc.
David Cresswell, Chairman of the ABP, addressed the Dublin meeting and gave the audience an overview of the UK market, pointing out some of the challenges that UK repairers are currently facing.
He also drew parallels with the Irish market, and flagged some potential issues coming down the track for Irish refinishers. An ever diminishing car parc of vehicles under eight years was highlighted as a looming problem for refinishers.
David O’Neill of the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) Leinster Branch also addressed the Dublin meeting. He gave the meeting an overview of the Institute’s activities in the UK and Ireland and explained how the Institute can help refinishers deliver training in Ireland.
In a quick-fire question and answer session with David Creswell, Gethyn Davies, Markets Director, UK & Ireland Refinish, PPG Industries, and John McGowan, Business Manager, PPG Industries Ireland compared and contrasted the UK and Ireland markets.
Neil Samuel of Thatcham Research, revealed that the not ‘not for profit’ insurer funded research centre is at the forefront of the latest vehicle technology research, spanning safety, security and repair.
Whilst the majority of Thatcham’s work is funded by a levy on their 30 plus member insurers, the centre also generates its own revenue providing a unique range of products and services primarily to the motor repair industry, contributing to an annual turnover of around £15 million.
Dr. Arthur O’Sullivan, of SIMI’s VBRS committee, gave the audience the low-down on the new ‘Certified Steel Standard’ (CSS) which is a new voluntary standards programme for professional bodyshops in Ireland.
The standard, the first of its kind, was developed by the SIMI (Society of the Irish Motor Industry) and is supported by the RSA (Road Safety Authority)
To achieve CSS certification, a bodyshop must pass an independent audit of their personnel, equipment, the suitability of their repair methods and the quality of their repair materials, which are inspected against set criteria.
The audience heard that, the VBRS hopes to have in the region of 50 bodyshops approved by the end of the year, ahead of a nationwide public awareness campaign, beginning early next year.