From the Vice President - October/November - 2020

The New Frontier

Nobody needs to tell you that the last few months have been a real struggle for our industry. With shops closing, live seminars and the Powertrain EXPO being canceled, and not being able to reach out to customers to provide for their needs have made life challenging during these pandemic times.

Likewise, we at ATRA have made it our mission to explore new methods for conducting business. I’m sure some of you have noticed some differences in service availability from the ATRA IBO team. Thank you for your patience while we navigated the turbulent waters associated with suddenly and unexpectedly becoming a virtual company. California’s Governor, Gavin Newsom, has forced us to work from home along with many other companies.

However, through it all, ATRA is still the leader in transmission tech and shop management education. I’d like to share what we’ve done so far to adjust how we bring our training programs to you. Ironically, it’s almost as though Lance Wiggins and the tech team had a premonition about 2020. Through our Virtual Training Solutions (VTS) program, we’ve continued to provide state-of-the-art, timely tech training. The quality of VTS is of such high caliber that several technical training schools and colleges have joined ATRA’s ranks and are offering our VTS program as an integral part of their curriculum.

Additionally, we’ve enjoyed great success with Virtual Seminars in locations deemed unsafe due to COVID-19 and where live gatherings are restricted.

To make things even better, by being forced to improvise and accelerate our efforts in the new virtual environment, we’ve found a platform that we can use to bring our annual Powertrain EXPO into the virtual world. While many will be disappointed to miss out on the face-to-face conversations that we’ve all come to enjoy at EXPO, there are many redeeming benefits to the virtual venue.

Just think of the cost savings! Every attendee will save a lot of money on things like travel, food, and lodging – not to mention the time you’ll save. Flexibility is another key benefit as you’ll be able to attend the seminars basically at your convenience. Plus, in the past, you’ve often had to choose between seminars or whether to attend a tech or a management session. You can now take all the sessions because they’re recorded, and you can watch them 24/7.

The training will be state-of-the-art, as always, but the virtual show floor will be different. I think in some ways, it will be better because you’ll be able to spend as much time as you want with each vendor. You won’t be interrupted, and you won’t have to talk over all the crowd noise. All the vendors you’ve come to know and trust will welcome you into their respective virtual booths.

I know this is a lot to absorb, but I think it opens the door to greater possibilities. Going forward, we can have the best of both worlds. We can have a Virtual Powertrain EXPO for those that cannot or prefer not to travel. We’ll still have a Live Powertrain EXPO at a destination venue for those who like to get away, mingle, and socialize. We’ll also have Virtual Seminars so more technicians can receive training at huge savings, allowing the shop to be more profitable – sort of a silver lining.

On a related note, ATRA has some more great news to share with the membership. We’ve sold our old International Business Office building in Oxnard, California. We are researching new areas to move to in the next few years. It’s important to find a less expensive environment to conduct business and invest the savings in providing stellar service to our members. This move enables us to cut our costs of operations. ATRA will pass the benefits on to our membership by providing better technical information in this rapidly changing world.

If nothing else, COVID-19 has opened our eyes to positive future changes. We welcome suggestions from our membership regarding potential home office locations. Key considerations include property costs, property taxes, local taxes, state income taxes, employee wage costs, housing costs, climate, proximity to an international airport, and location convenience. Contact us through the ATRA website, your Director, or your ATRA Chapter if you have any suggestions.

We’re living in times that are rich in opportunity. Let’s make a pact to grow together into the future. ATRA is on a mission to find that new frontier, so get on the “Starship ATRA” and boldly go where no Transmission Man has gone before!