By early 1977, many collision industry leaders could see the need for change within the industry. With the introduction of the unibody vehicle, cars were getting more sophisticated, and the repair industry had grown stagnant. While paint technology had changed somewhat, and car-building had certainly changed, body-men were still applying the same repair techniques that had been used since the end of WWII. And, it appeared to most that unless someone or some organization took the reins and forced change, shops would soon be incapable of making safe repairs.
In April, 1979, a number of industry leaders met at the Hilton Hotel at the San Francisco airport, and began to devise a plan. Among them was a representative from the Automotive Service Association (ASA), the Executive Director of the Autobody Craftsman Association (a leading auto body association at the time), a representative from the Equipment and Tool Institute, executives from General Motors and representatives from State Farm along with an array of shop owners and other interested parties. The first thing they all agreed on was that collision technicians needed better repair information – and a lot more of it. If a vehicle had to be fixed a certain way, the OE had to let the industry know it and make the information readily available. The question was – what was the best way to do that?
Of course, each party had their own interests throughout the discussions. It was noted that several insurance representatives only wanted to find a way to make cheaper repairs. Bob Mecherle of State Farm realized that the discussions were not about “cheap” but how to perform a proper repair and address the changing technology.
Dan Murray of General Motors was a key party to the affair because he had recently returned from a two-year stint living in Germany and working for General Motors where the collision repair business had advanced considerably further than the U.S. In Germany and all over Europe, unibody construction had been used for several years so equipment manufacturers and technicians had advanced considerably.
In November of 1979, a meeting of forty invited industry leaders was held in Des Plaines, Illinois where, after much discussion and planning, over 30 shop owners and associations, along with State Farm, provided enough seed money to start a non-profit company that would train collision technicians on how to properly repair collision damage. The entity they founded, was the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair; then known as IICACR, and now known simply as I-CAR.