• The Panel Newsletter – June 2019


    By Rob Mildenhall, National Panel Manager & BDM NSW

    Welcome to winter folks!

    I recently attended the Collision Repair Association’s 106th (wow!) conference in sunny Napier, New Zealand and am getting ready for the Futures Collide, a Collision Repairers Conference hosted by Capricorn, to be held on the 10thAugust at the Novotel on Collins in Melbourne.


    CRA Conference – The Past, the Present and the Future.

    This was the 106th conference of the CRA in New Zealand, held this time in Napier, and was attended by over 100 collision repairer business, meaning that together with suppliers, there were around 300 people in the room.

    Mike King

    Mike King was the MC for the weekend and made a huge impression on the conference for his candid manner, and the way he highlighted the need to address the mental wellbeing of men and women in the automotive industry. Mike King was recently named as the Kiwibank 2019 New Zealander of the Year.

    He is a familiar face on New Zealand television, hosting numerous comedy series.

    Mike’s candid routine has led him to become somewhat of a social commentator and he is often asked to take part in documentaries, news shows and debates. These days Mike has retired from stand-up comedy, devoting his time to help others understand mental illness and strategies to cope with it.


    John Shackleton was another speaker at the conference who dealt with the subject of stress.  John began studying ways of helping people deal with the huge pressures the world is currently throwing at them. He quickly discovered the emerging area of Mindfulness and saw it’s potential as a way of dealing with stress. He approaches the subject from a neuroscience perspective and teaches practical ways for people to use the techniques to reduce their stress.

    As Director, Industry Technical Relations at I-CAR, Jason Bartanen leads I-CAR’s Repairability Technical Support initiative. He operates where the rubber meets the road at I-CAR USA. Jason presented on collision repair today, where vehicle manufacturing is going and the impact on the collision repair industry. He discussed future options and opportunities and how I-CAR will meet this challenge. His presentation was essential for everyone in the collision repair industry thinking strategically about the future.

    The final speaker was Rachael Sheldrick from The Workshop Whisperer, who is well known to us here in Australia. Rachael is the founder of The Workshop Whisperer, and specialises in mentoring owners and managers in sales and marketing, social media strategy, improving productivity, staffing, culture, leadership, and cash flow.


    Rachael presented an enlightening session on leadership with a repair business, proving to be a popular topic with the attendees.

    I was really impressed with the positive attitudes, camaraderie and positive outlook on the common challenges the New Zealand market has with ours in Australia. They have had to master the significant negative impact of Parts Trader, the insurers and a complex car market, and are yet able to focus on constant improvement of their businesses with a unified desire to be sustainable within this ever-challenging industry. I learned that many of the repairers had registered with the authorities to enable them to bring in skilled workers from overseas, and this together with strong focus on skills development by MITO, are able to find some relief to the skilled labour shortage.