There have been COVID challenges since 2019 that have affected us all. Expo 2020 went virtual because Nashville shut down, and 2021’s show was substantially pared back due to the impact of COVID constraints in Las Vegas.
Peculiarly, because of COVID, we’ve accomplished more in the last two years than perhaps any two-year period in our history. The pandemic forced us to rethink how we’ve always done things, inspiring creativity and innovation within our ranks. We’re entering what looks to be the most exciting time for ATRA in decades. It’s a movement that’s gathering momentum daily. We’re expanding services and training programs to attract more technicians and help them fix cars.
Here’s a quick summary of what’s been happening at ATRA over the past two years. I encourage you to come to the Members Townhall Meeting at Expo at 6:00 PM on Saturday for all the details. This is also your opportunity to meet your Board of Directors, express your feelings, and offer your innovative ideas for new services and how to attract aspiring technicians.
- In addition to my election as Board President, over half of our Board members are new as previous members have retired. At the meeting, we’ll acknowledge the retiring Board members, welcome our new Board members, and recognize our continuing Board members. The Board of Directors are volunteers, and they commit untold hours to ensure the ongoing success of ATRA. Please come to the meeting and show your support.
- Our IBO headquarters and Technical Research Facility are relocating to our new location in China Grove near San Antonio, Texas. We hope to have the facilities’ remodel completed within the year.
- Dennis Madden is retiring and passing the Executive Director’s baton to our long-time Tech Director, Lance Wiggins. Lance has already relocated to China Grove along with our new Tech Director, Keith Clark, and Aurelio Pena of GEARS Magazine.
- We’ve resumed our “Live Seminars” on a limited schedule. The live seminars are also available online to extend accessibility to more shops.
- ATRA’s VTS (Virtual Training Solutions) platform is growing in popularity, and topics are being added regularly. This platform provides online training in both Tech and Management topics. The pandemic contributed to the rapid growth of this platform as VTS made it possible for tech school students to complete course credit requirements for graduation despite school shutdowns.
- The pandemic also helped usher in ATRA’s University Project, which, in conjunction with VTS, will raise awareness of the Transmission Industry with its aggressive grassroots focus and through alliances with trade schools. The University Project is expansive. It includes plans for training the tech school instructors to teach transmissions, attracting more of their students to our field. We’re developing training to help shops do a better in-car diagnosis to determine if the problem is inside or outside the transmission. Training topics will also be geographically tailored to match the types of vehicles found within the various regions – trucks and 4X4s in rural areas and CVTs and hybrids in metro areas, for example. The geo-specific content will also attract GR techs from within the industry who might not have considered working on transmissions otherwise.
Shops are reporting that the biggest post-pandemic problem is getting the work done! That means finding employees and getting them trained. ATRA is driven to solve the technician shortage. The one-two punch combination of VTS and the University Project represents the fastest route to bringing more techs into our business and quickly getting them up to speed. But here’s the knockout punch. We’ve also introduced ATRA+ to help shops with this critical need.
Everybody that I have talked to is excited about ATRA+. Your IBO team is pumped and ready to go with more training and the new offerings to the members and the automotive industry.
Hopefully, you’ll attend the Members Town Hall Meeting. You will be able to meet the ATRA Board Director for your area. This year, the meeting will be on Saturday at 6:00 PM, which should help to increase attendance over that of previous years. Your feedback and ideas are requested. After all, ATRA belongs to the members and exists to support and help its members succeed. Your success is the best measure of our success.