Source: Gary Ledoux, Autobody News
After almost 23 years, news hit that Jason Bartanen, I-CAR’s director of industry technical relations, was leaving the organization.
On June 17, the industry was stunned when they found out that Bartanen would be joining the team at Collision Hub—one of the most prolific training organizations headed by Kristen Felder.
Passion for the collision industry runs in Bartanen’s family.
“My grandfather opened a body shop in Ishpeming, WI, in 1939, taught my father collision repair and he passed it along to me,” Bartanen said. “My father was my high school automotive teacher and we operated a smaller Bartanen’s Auto Body in Oconto, WI. That’s really where I learned collision repair. I also worked part-time, while in college, at Commercial Auto Body in Green Bay, WI, where I was a painter’s helper.”
In 1996, Bartanen went to work for I-CAR as a technical writer developing training courses. This led to a promotion as technical development manager overseeing all curriculum development. This, in turn, led to a stint as technical director where he maintained industry relations with shops, OE’s and other stakeholders. Bartanen has been a mainstay in the industry, speaking at many industry events, conducting training classes at industry events as well as local association meetings, and serving as a spokesperson for I-CAR in industry magazine articles.
Autobody News spoke with Bartanen about his move to Collision Hub, and how this will affect him and the industry. Here’s what he had to say:
ABN: What is your proudest accomplishment at I-CAR?
JB: I am proud of the Repairability Technical Support Portal website. It was the first tool in the industry to bridge the gap between OE’s and technicians. It’s a great way to share information. In addition, it was the first product of its type—designed by technicians for technicians—so, the users can relate to it.
Furthermore, I’m proud of advancing what I-CAR did with the OE’s and the vehicle-specific training we developed for them.
I had a great relationship with all the I-CAR instructors and volunteers—all great people.
ABN: You invested time and effort into I-CAR. What was the deciding factor in making the move?
JB: Collision Hub will allow me to refocus on the technician and help them excel, and perform correct repairs. This is predicated on two factors. One, Kristen Felder knows what technicians want and need. She is always connecting with them in person or on social media. She has a good feel for the shop’s production floor as well as what goes on in the front office. Two, Collision Hub is big enough to have an effect on the industry, but small enough to be nimble when it comes to producing new products and services. Collision Hub can bring product to market very quickly. The industry is changing rapidly—we all have to run just to keep up.
ABN: What unique opportunity does Collision Hub present to you?
JB: Collision Hub will give me more opportunity and more potential to grow. It will be a chance for me to re-engage with the smaller shops that need the most help and have the fewest resources.
ABN: What is your new title at Collision Hub and what does your title entail?
JB: My new title is director of collision industry relations. On a day-to-day basis, I will be working with industry stakeholders to develop new products and services delivered through Collision Hub.
ABN: Does this mean you will be competing with I-CAR in the same space?
JB: No—I see what we will be doing as a compliment to what I-CAR does. Our training is more focused on certain areas, while I-CAR has a broader approach. Let’s face it … there are only about 8,000 I-CAR Gold Class shops out there out of 35,000 total shops. Many shops are at various levels of training and some have no training at all, so there is plenty of training to go around.
ABN: Larry Montanez of P&L Consultants and Mark Olson of Vehicle Collision Experts have each become an integral part of Collision Hub training. We see them all the time in the YouTube videos. How will your responsibilities affect them?
JB: Kristen and Larry focus primarily on education for shop owners and the front office. I will focus on the actual repairs and the production floor. Mark is versed in many areas and brings his own special expertise to the table.
ABN: Do you foresee bringing in more people from the industry? How do you see expansion from here?
JB: Kristen and I have a lot of ideas that I can’t discuss yet. We can expand, if necessary.
ABN: What is your ultimate goal or end-game?
JB: My end-game is simple: I want technicians to be successful and perform proper, safe and complete repairs. It was my goal at I-CAR and it will remain the same here at Collision Hub. It is what the industry wants and needs.