Ottawa, Ontario -- August 8, 2016 -- Executive Vision focuses on discussions with key players in the auto claims economy and the auto industry, their views on the present industry and their vision for the future. Most recently we spoke with Jean-Francois Champagne, President of AIA Canada. Champagne came onboard at AIA Canada in September 2015. Previously, he served as Executive Director for the Canadian Security Association (CANASA). He holds a Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation and serves on the Board of the Canadian Society of Association Executives. He discusses the current state of the automotive aftermarket, the collision repair industry and accomplishments during his first year.
Collision Repair magazine: You've been with AIA Canada as President since September of 2015. What has been the most challenging part of the job so far?
Jean-Francois Champagne: When I think about the challenges, it would have to be where we put our energies and how we prioritize. There are a lot of opportunities and the association is in a good position for growth. But just like everyone else, there is only a certain amount of resources. The question is where do we put those resources to achieve the maximum impact? Coming into the position, I thought the biggest challenge would be engaging with the industry.
That's actually been the easy part. I've received open-door invitations, help and support both from within the organization and from members of the industry. It was a beautiful surprise to find out just how engaged members of the automotive aftermarket are. It's a very vibrant industry.
CRM: What do you see as some of the most critical challenges for the automotive aftermarket as a whole, and the collision industry in particular?
JFC: The rapid change in technology is having a significant impact and that will continue for the foreseeable future. Technology disrupts the whole supply chain. It impacts how consumers interact with their vehicles and how the cars are being built and later repaired. Vehicles are more and more software driven. This makes the need for ongoing training critical. How repairers access that information is and will continue to be key to the future of the automotive aftermarket.
CRM: What do you think is the single most important of those challenges? What would you suggest to a shop owner who is trying to deal with that?
JFC: Continuous education is one way. Thinking specifically of the collision sector, I have observed that Canada's collision industry is at the forefront. Look at the success of the Canadian Collision Industry Forum (CCIF), which serves as a central place of conversation for all stakeholders. Shop owners who get involved and participate in meetings like CCIF will get the best possible access to information they need to stay on top of rapid changes.
CRM: AIA Canada recently announced it would start a new provincial division in British Columbia. What was the impetus behind this decision?
JFC: We had representation all over the country, except for British Columbia. AIA has branched out across the country, but there was still a gap in BC. We responded to local stakeholders who asked for a local division.
CRM: The new BC division had its first meeting in April. What outcomes can you share from that meeting?
JFC: Although, unfortunately, I wasn't there personally, the members who met were very enthusiastic and knowledgeable in identifying a structure for what to do and how to do it. The focus was on local issues, government relations , and networking opportunities. Going forward, the primary goals of the BC division will be on local grassroots events and activities.
CRM: Thinking solely of how it's going to change the automotive aftermarket and the collision repair industry, what's the biggest change we can expect in the next few years?
JFC: The whole relationship of car ownership is going to change. I heard Bill Ford Jr. (current Executive Chairman of Ford - Ed.) speak recently, and he discussed how building, selling and servicing cars is no longer enough. Car companies must think of themselves as mobility providers. If you look at services like Lyft and Uber, it's obvious that the car ownership model will change. Fewer people are likely to own 100 percent of a vehicle, especially once we see truly autonomous vehicles on the road. It will impact how those vehicles are serviced and repaired. From a social perspective, it will likely reduce the number of fatalities on the roads, but it's also going to change the repair business. It will definitely change the landscape enormously over the next 20 years.
CRM: What else does the future hold for AIA Canada?
JFC: We'll continue to monitor trends in consolidation, the collision industry, the automotive aftermarket and the heavy-duty industry. We have a very large and wide pool of volunteers to draw on for our future activities. They're very dedicated to improving the industry. There are certainly challenges ahead, but we're very well positioned to meet those challenges. I can say that our accreditation program for collision repair facilities is one of our top priorities currently. We've made a good strategic decision to say "the time is now." Overall, the future looks good.