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100 years for the Collision Repair Association

10 April 2013

100 years for the Collision Repair Association

Celebrating a centenary of excellence and evolution within the crash repair industry

It’s 1913 and someone’s just reversed into your horse-drawn carriage – what do you do? Take it to a CRA-approved workshop, of course! Well, kind of.

One hundred years ago, it would have been TCBWMCBNANZ-approved – a bit of a mouthful, but the name reflected the times. The Carriage Builders, Wheelwrights and Motor Car Builders National Association of New Zealand was founded by a group of highly skilled wheelwrights and carriage builders, proficient in carpentry and blacksmithing, to establish a quality benchmark for their industry.

“There weren’t too many cars to repair in those days,” says Collision Repair Association (CRA) general manager Neil Pritchard. “It was founded to set a standard of excellence throughout the industry, which remains the organisation’s overarching aim today.”

Although the name has changed, not to mention the tools, techniques and materials used, the standard for quality remains the same. Modern vehicle manufacturers invest millions of dollars into safety structures and systems to ensure better protection for drivers and passengers.

“There’s not much use for wood or iron bands these days,” says Neil. “Instead, think ultra-lightweight aluminium panels, rollover protection, impact points and crumple zones.”

With vehicle technologies advancing in leaps and bounds, repairers are now required to know a lot more to remain at the top of their game.

“One of the ways in which repairers must earn the distinction of CRA membership is by continually furthering their knowledge of new technologies in order to ensure that damaged vehicles are returned to their owners with the same level of safety as before an accident,” says Neil.

“Our members enjoy preferred access to I-CAR training programmes, which keep them up to speed with fast-evolving technology and model-specific repair techniques.”

Holden NZ has recently formed an alliance with the CRA, in recognition of the value the organisation brings to the industry in this area.

“Holden has chosen the CRA as the ‘authorised’ Holden collision repair organisation, because of its high performance record and association with I-CAR,” says Holden NZ national service manager Drew Forsyth.

“We feel the relationship will create more confidence for our customers.”

Which brings us back to the original question – what do you do if you’re involved in an accident? Today, the typical process involves a call to your insurance company, which then directs you to a preferred supplier.

Gary Byrnes, manager of Collision Management Services at Vero Insurance, says: “The majority of our approved repairers are CRA members.

“We value the common standards across our network and the CRA’s approach to industry training. We have every confidence our customers will receive a quality service from these repairers.”

So what if your insurance company suggests you take your vehicle to someone who is not a CRA member? What many people don’t know is that you have the right to choose whichever repairer you want to fix your vehicle, regardless of your insurance company’s recommendation!

“The CRA stands for consistent quality, service and up-to-date expertise,” says Neil. “We work hard to ensure we are the best choice for our customers and will continue to do so for another 100 years!”

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Association display at the 1924 Wellington Winter Exhibition.

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An historic panel shop in 1944, which still operates today.

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Inside a panel shop in the early 1960s.

About the CRA
The Collision Repair Association aims to provide quality and safety assurance to customers by assuring its members are suitable to be qualified and their work meets its own high standards. Its membership includes qualified panelbeaters and auto refinish painters and all other car collision repair tradesman and allied businesses in New Zealand. Membership currently stands at 600 (including approximately 100 Associated members), and is continually increasing. Customers can identify association members and be assured of a high standard of workmanship, by the CRA quality assured logo which appears on this page and which will be found displayed on members' premises.


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