The Vehicle Builders and Repairers Association (VBRA) is celebrating its 100th Birthday in 2014. Over the years the VBRA has successfully served its members from, originally, Wheelwrights, through to Vehicle builders and into bespoke and mass Car Body Repair, Smart, Mechanical and other aftermarket activities
What is evident is that whist terminology and technology may change and Economies may alter, fundamental issues remain similar including the onward march of outside interference with business through legislation, and, for car body repair especially, the eventual rise of insurance companies domination over who can do what, when, how and at what price!
Constants over the years have been the provision of information, support with business issues such as marketing and promotion, training, materials and equipment alongside codes of practice and the progressive introduction of member facing experts not simply to ‘audit’ but to encourage, develop and assist.
Methods of delivering service have changed too. In the current electronic age communication is more instant but in itself this can be detrimental as there is such a deluge of information there can be a tendency to ignore it. VBRA’s electronic information delivery has concentrated on what is essential and important. Other details are in the member only areas of the website, or available from Head Office for reference – a treasury of useful detail.
Legislation is relentless but for Commercial vehicle body builders the onslaught of type Approval has been a particular headache. Ever innovative, VBRA began tackling this issue more than 10 years ago and 5 years back set up its toolkit information program to help members find their way through the Type Approval minefield.
VBRA has been at the forefront of ‘containing’ these regulations in so far as Europe and the UK government have allowed.
More recently still VBRA set up VBTA Limited to obtain approvals on a co-operative basis for those members signing up to this new company. Particularly innovative here is that once set up the decision making on what approvals to obtain, in which order and when lies entirely in the hands of VBTA’s subscribers as does future approval management. VBRA Members, regardless of this innovation, continue to receive great levels of support for their own journeys through Type Approval.
VBTA came about after long hours of consultation with Members, Government departments, VCA and Vehicle OEMs
Type Approval comes to a head in October 2014 but the echoes and ramifications of it will continue for some years yet until it becomes ingrained as ‘normal’.