CREF’s national PSA campaign offers repairers a way to help secure the future of the industry


The Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) has launched a two-pronged campaign to attract a new generation of collision repair technicians, with a nationwide public campaign that will be funded in part by rebuilding and raffling off a Chevrolet Camaro 1969.

CREF also announced the opening of its 2022 Collision School Career Readiness Benchmark Grants, which provide schools with up to $25,000 in funding for tools, equipment and supplies.

“Who agrees that we as an industry need to reach out to the general public – including parents and school counselors – to educate them about this industry? And who believes we could better help students enter the industry? Brandon Eckenrode, CEO of CREF, said in announcing the launch of the public service campaign, called Operative Talent.

“We are continually discussing the need for more technicians, estimators and other industry professionals, but instead of just thinking about it and talking about it, we are going to put in place actions that will involve everyone in this industry,” Eckenrode said.

The public service campaign will showcase the many career paths available in the industry and positively shine a light on collision repair, he said.

He told Repairer Driven News that the campaign will be professionally developed and will include television, online and potentially radio ads.

Those interested in considering a career in collision repair will be directed to a yet-to-be-built website where they can get more information and find training opportunities near them.

“We’re in a kind of trade war — we’re competing for students against other technical training programs,” Eckenrode said. “I don’t want to see us lose or have the leftovers. We should get the best of the best, and we do that by showcasing the career paths available to them, showing them how attractive body repair opportunities can be.

Before the public service campaign and website can be launched, funds must be raised. To that end, KTL Restorations of Danville, Va., rebuilds a 1969 Camaro — and that’s where collision repairers can step in to help.

Individuals and businesses can provide some of the parts needed to build the car and can support the effort with donations as sponsors, Eckenrode said. They can also purchase raffle tickets for the car, with the winner to be drawn at the 2023 SEMA Show.

He thanked KTL Restorations and BASF, with support from Hemmings and CarBuff Network, for making the rebuilding project possible, and credited KTL’s Crystal and Kurt Lawrance for coming up with the idea.

Anyone interested in contributing pieces should get in touch with KTL by emailing [email protected] There are also opportunities to provide physical assistance to the project; to learn more, visit and click on the pop-up.

“We have children, including a 16-year-old daughter who is currently studying finishing, and as parents we care about their future,” Crystal Lawrance said. “We are passionate about the next generation, but few show enthusiasm for automotive careers because they don’t know anything about it. Nobody shows them what’s available… The kids are told they need to get a four-year degree and rack up college debt to succeed, but there are great opportunities for well-paying jobs in the trade.

BASF’s Tina Nelles said that while internships, scholarships and school support are widely recognized as crucial to the future of body repair, “the key element that is always overlooked is the outside perception of our industry” .

“We need people to talk about this industry in the right way,” Nelles said. “By promoting careers in collision repair through the PSA website and campaign, we can ensure that students, as well as their parents, teachers and school counsellors, understand the variety of opportunities that exist in this industry. »

Eckenrode added that CREF will be presenting at the American School Counselor Association’s annual gathering in Austin, Texas, July 9-12, helping to raise awareness of the industry and what it offers.

He said the foundation is developing materials that counselors can make available to their students, from kindergartners (think coloring books) to high school students. Awareness was made possible by a grant from General Motors.

Benchmark grants available

Schools seeking funding for tools, equipment, and supplies are invited to apply for CREF’s 2022 Collision School Career Readiness Benchmark Grants. Grants are capped at $25,000 and applications are available online, with a July 1 deadline.

CREF has updated this year’s application, dividing it into five sections: Recruitment, Program Retention, Program Additions, Employment and Innovation, a new category designed to help programs try new and innovative ideas with the opportunity to recreate these programs for others across the country. .

The update aims to make the program “more impact-driven, goal-oriented and measurable,” the foundation said.

“Schools and instructors often struggle to maintain their program at its current level of capacity due to enormous budgetary pressures, but the advancement of technology requires constant improvements in the training they deliver to ensure that the industry’s future collision professionals are entering the industry with the skills necessary to become effective members of the workforce,” CREF’s Director of Operations/Administration, Melissa Marscin, said in a statement.

“Thanks to the generosity of the industry, CREF has designed the Benchmark Grant Program as a way to help equip collision education programs with the materials and support needed to elevate the educational experience for students up to standard. Of the industry.”

In 2021, more than 80 schools received a total of $329,000 in referral grants. Since 2009, CREF has relied on industry donations to provide collision repair educational programs with more than $5 million in cash and in-kind donations.

More information

Operational Talent: Collision Industry Collaborates to Fund Consumer Public Service Campaign


Featured Image: Kaiya, 20; Addie, 16; and Grayson, 19, with the chassis of the 1969 Camaro project car, named Talent. All three work at KTL Restorations. (Provided by Crystal Lawrance of KTL Restorations)

The chassis of the 1969 Camaro project car on display. (Provided by Crystal Lawrance of KTL Restorations)

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