From the Executive Director - November - 2022

Chapter 1: In The Beginning

Famous poet Maya Angelou observed, “You can’t really know where you are going until you know where you have been.” So, as we begin ATRA’s next chapter, I thought it would be good to look back at the beginning and what Chapter 1 looked like.

Before we look at the origins of ATRA Chapters, let’s review some more current information. One of the events at every EXPO is the Chapter meeting. The attendees include Chapter Presidents, Chapter Members, and shop owners interested in discussing what they can do to help in their areas. Also attending this year’s meeting were representatives from five chapters and two shops potentially interested in becoming Chapters; both were from outside the United States – Ecuador and Australia.

The Chapters in attendance included the Arizona Chapter, represented by Mike Pfeiffer of Certified Transmission Complete Auto Care in Prescott, Arizona; the Gulf States Chapter, represented by Jonathon Shadis and his wife Crystal of Advanced Transmissions in Spanish Fort, Alabama; the Southwest Chapter represented by Ed Doyle of A+1 Transmission Specialists in Kerrville, Texas, and the Oklahoma Chapter was represented by Steve Jones of Transmission Clinics in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.

Maria Fernanda Erazo and her husband from Caja Rosa Epecialista En Transmisiones Automaticas in Ecuador and Reese Callingham from Australasian Automotive Transmission Rebuilders in Australia attended the meeting expressing interest in learning about what ATRA has to offer when it comes to Chapters.

The main topic of discussion was ATRA University which I spoke a little about in the last issue of GEARS, It’s a Family Affair. Another hot topic was how to sponsor schools in each area and support their technical and internship needs. We discussed Chapter Boot camps, where Chapter representatives can learn how to improve their Chapters’ visibility, gain membership, and boost community involvement within their market areas.

We discussed how Chapters can sponsor the schools and not just students. A few years ago, the Southern California Chapter sponsored Cerritos Community College. They had over fifty students using VTS as their training platform. What a great way to stay involved, right!

ATRA created its first Chapters in the early 1970s to get members directly involved at the local level and to promote activities and events that would directly affect them in their hometowns. Since ATRA is a nationwide association, often, the only opportunity we get to visit shops around the nation is when we’re in the area to present our technical seminars. However, that’s such an abbreviated time to try and make a significant, lasting impact in the area.

Chapters are an effective way to establish and maintain relationships with our members. We want to know what’s working and what isn’t. And most importantly, we want to know how we can help. Chapters are the best way to accomplish good communication within a region.

But we need your help! If you’re an ATRA Member, your local Chapter needs your input. Or you can get involved in the idea brainstorming process by becoming a Chapter Representative. The best part of being involved with Chapters is that it doesn’t require you to stop your life. In fact, all it takes is a little participation from you when a seminar is in town and being a good ambassador when people want to know about what our shops are doing for their local communities.

The purpose of the Chapters is to strengthen member shops regionally. Anything a Chapter can do in a given community to enhance the visibility and image of ATRA and the industry is a worthy goal.

As I mentioned, the earliest Chapters were founded in the 1970s. There’s a rumor that the very first Chapter was formed in Northern California, but the Southern California region would tell you they were the first to create a Chapter. Hmm… sounds to me like we got ourselves a good old fashion showdown. For the record, I’ve been investigating this, and the results are inconclusive so far.

If you have any information on the earliest Chapters in your area, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me directly at lwiggins@atra.com. In the meantime, as always, I look forward to serving you and our future together.