Prior to 1955, independent garages were just that: hardy individuals on their own with little cooperation within their industry. However, in 1955, Ralph James of Oklahoma helped form IGOA, the Independent Garage Owners of America. Also in 1955, a group of garage owners in Lancaster County formed the IGOP, the Independent Garage Owners of Pennsylvania, Inc. The goals of these early movements included educational, technical, and management programs; bonding of shops; registering of mechanics; safety inspection law; mechanic’s lien law; group advertising; group insurance of all types; and liaisons with the government and other automotive associations.
In August 1961, IGOP had a state board meeting in Pittsburgh. John Breneman and Albert Brook of Lancaster, Fran Elder and Harry Heese of Pittsburgh and Art Miller and Russell Teagarden of Washington comprised the Board. Over the next few years, units (chapters) were formed in Bedford, Blair County, Central Chester County, Delaware Valley, Erie County, Greene County, Mercer County, Montgomery and Chester Counties, Ohio Valley, Pittsburgh South Hills, Scranton, Upper Allegheny, Washington County, Westmoreland County, and York.
In 1961, Hal Parker was the Executive Director of the Allegheny County unit and the editor of IGO News. In 1962, he became the Executive Director of IGOP, and IGO News became the state publication. During the 1960s, the IGO News was renamed the Keystone Automotive Independent. Parker left the position in 1966, and for four years, volunteers did all of the Association work.
In 1970, IGOP hired a new Executive Director and one Field Director. Also in 1970, a federal credit union was established to provide loans for business and personal needs to members, their families, and their employees.
In 1972, after merging with PABA, the Pennsylvania Auto Body Association, the Association name was changed to ASCP, Automotive Service Councils of Pennsylvania. Chapters added at that time were Berks County, Central Pennsylvania (Harrisburg area), Delaware Valley (Chapter 31), Lancaster County (Chapter 26), Lebanon Valley, Lehigh Valley, Schuylkill County, and York County (Chapter 30).
In 1986, the name was changed again: this time to ASAP, the Automotive Service Association of Pennsylvania, to coincide with the name of the national association that resulted from the merger of ASC America and the Independent Garagemen’s Association.
In June 1992, the Association developed a headquarters at 251 Wiconisco Street, Harrisburg. This two-story, brick office building was formerly a residence that was converted by the previous owner.
In January 1999, our name was changed yet again; AASP-PA, the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of Pennsylvania an affiliate of the national AASP.
In March 1999, AASP-PA, needing more space, purchased a 10,000 sq. ft property at 2151 Greenwood Street, Harrisburg. Approximately 1/2 of the space was renovated into new offices. The staff moved into the new office building in November 1999. The old office building was then sold. Starting December 2001, an additional 3,400 sq. ft. of the new building was renovated for leasing.
Much has changed over the past five decades. Presently, our Association has 34 active chapters, representing both Pennsylvania’s and Delaware’s independent automotive service providers. Membership has gone from 66 to approximately 2, 000 member shop owners, with all members subscribing to AASP-PA's Code of Ethics.
The Association staff has grown as well: now, AASP-PA has an Executive Director, an Assistant Executive Director, four Field Directors, a Bookkeeper, an Advertising and Sales Manager and a Receptionist. Lobbyists now work to promote our Association both at the state and national levels of government.
The Association is governed by a House of Delegates; each chapter has two representatives on the delegate body. The Delegates meet four times a year in January, March, June, and September. Each year, the Delegates elect an Executive Committee: President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary. Four divisions, Mechanical, Collision, Towing, and Service Station, convene their quarterly meetings at the Delegates’ Meeting. The Committee Chairs are also a part of the Executive Committee.
Services offered by the Association have also expanded. Countless training seminars have been held; two trade shows are held each year for thousands of attendees; a comprehensive audio/video training library is available for members, free-of-charge; and TechTrain is held annually.
Significant benefits, including discounts on all types of insurance, long distance phone service, uniform rentals and purchase, and many other products and services, are also available to members. Finally, members receive a complimentary subscription to our multi-award winning, four-color magazine, The Pennsylvania Automotive and Insider News, one of the most respected publications in the industry.
However, despite the changes throughout the years, one thing has remained constant: our commitment to our members and their concerns. In December 1970, IGOP President, Gordon Lewis, said it best: “We cannot stand for long on the accomplishments of the past.” As in the past, AASP-PA will continue to be proactive on behalf of our members—now and in the future.