collision repair shop

The annual event brings together I-CAR committee members, instructors and volunteers from around the U.S.

Several hot topics in the collision industry found a platform for discussion at I-CAR’s 2024 National Volunteer and Instructor Meeting, held April 5-6 in Chicago, alongside noteworthy announcements and festivities commemorating I-CAR’s 45th anniversary.

The overarching theme of the two-day annual event, which brought together I-CAR staff, instructors and volunteers from across the country, was I-CAR’s commitment to Leading Forward.


The conference opened with remarks from I-CAR CEO and President John Van Alstyne, who began the weekend by highlighting the organization’s growth and success in nearly every metric in 2023. Most of his remarks, though, were aimed at the future — goals for I-CAR, and the entire collision repair industry, for 2024 and beyond.

Later that evening, Van Alstyne announced his plan to retire at the end of 2025.

Jim Guthrie, I-CAR’s chairman of the board, remarked on Van Alstyne’s contributions to the organization over his 15-year tenure.

“On behalf of the board, I would like to thank John for his extraordinarily positive and lasting impact on I-CAR, its customers and its employees,” Guthrie said. “Under John’s leadership, I-CAR has gone through a period of unprecedented growth and transformation, and he has created a collaborative culture that has led to I-CAR receiving national Top Workplace designation the past two years. These achievements, coupled with his focus on talent development and delivering relevant educational programming, technical information and services to the industry, position I-CAR for continued success.

“We are grateful for John’s significant contributions and look forward to working with him through the upcoming CEO and president selection and transition process,” Guthrie added.

In preparation for Van Alstyne’s departure, the I-CAR Board has assembled a selection committee charged with finding the organization’s future leader.


Another recurring theme throughout the weekend was the talent shortage in the industry, which is facing a challenge in both attracting and retaining technicians. According to I-CAR, fewer than 40% of career and technical school enrollees enter the industry, and, of those, only 15% stay for more than 18 months. In combination, these facts culminate in a daunting near-term hurdle: the collision industry will need 100,000 technician positions filled in the next five years.

While the onus remains on shops to tackle their technician recruitment challenges today on a micro level, the second day of I-CAR’s national meeting took a deep dive into what the organization is doing for the industry at the macro level.

Dara Goroff, vice president, Planning & Industry Talent Programming, spoke about I-CAR’s talent programming initiatives. Arianna Sherlock, senior marketing director for I-CAR spoke about Collision Careers, a forward-looking marketing campaign resembling that of some of the leading-edge consumer brands out there.

Using a “fresh” approach to attract talent and serving the industry was another recurring theme throughout the weekend. Scott VanHulle, manager of Repairability Technical Support and OEM Technical Relations at I-CAR, highlighted the latest resource for technicians, the I-CAR RTS mobile app, as a modern-day solution for modern-day technicians.


Later in the day, more than 300 attendees were treated to a tour of, and educational sessions in, I-CAR’s 48,000-square-foot Chicago Technical Center (CTC). The CTC is an industry resource equipped with the latest technologies and hosts students and OEMs year-round, featuring specialized labs, including ones for EVs, ADAS, welding and more.


The second evening brought the Awards Banquet Dinner, honoring exceptional industry leaders, committees, instructors and volunteers from across the nation. In many cases, the volunteers referred to I-CAR as “their company” with pride.

At the conclusion of I-CAR’s National Volunteer and Instructor Meeting, the collision repair industry stands at a crossroads. There is much to be done to prepare for a rapidly evolving future, but the industry as a whole is in steady and wise hands. For as many hurdles as collision repairers face, and for as unsettling as the massive changes that lie ahead may be for some, it feels like I-CAR gets it, and knows what must be done to not only survive the future, but to thrive. The collision repair industry is well-equipped to recruit and train the new age of technicians, and should feel good about the future with I-CAR Leading Forward.

This article was previously published on AutoBody News.

Abby Andrews is the editor and regular columnist of Autobody News.