It all began for the ABD
in 1970 when a group of nine body shop owners decided to do
something about the waning interest in their local
association. In order to spur up interest in joining the
group, the shop owners came up with the idea of contracting
local jobbers to see if they would be interested in
participating in a program that would allow association
members to get a discount when purchasing supplies.
According to co-founder Burt Gelzeiler, the response was not
very positive. The shop owners decided to put in $500 and
buy some supplies. They figured to hire a salesman to go out
to their members and see if they'd be interested in buying
supplies. Of all the hats worn by shop owners back then, the
least emphasis was put on purchasing. The shop owners had
the vision of starting a cooperating group. It was unheard
of that shop owners could work together on a money-saving
project. Soon, the response was overwhelming.
The newly named Auto Body
Distributing Co. soon offered other shops the chance to buy
shares in the company. The group became a business of
members for members. By the end of the group's first year,
there were 21 shareholders. Eight years later, the number
had grown to over 100. At that point, ABD rented a
storefront, hired help, created a large inventory and set up
a network of dealers who would offer additional discounts.
Thirty years later, the ABD has become a force in the
industry with over 200 stockholders and annual sales from
inventory of $3 million. ABD represents over $20
million in hard parts purchases and supplies stockholders
with shop supplies at huge savings in addition to the best
hard parts discounts.
It costs $1650 to join
ABD. This is the cost of the stock providing the joining
shop with partial ownership. Other benefits include mailed
flyers and mini-trade shows held at ABD in Irvington that
inform shops of new parts or special deals.
In the words of Burt
Geltzeiler, "They said it couldn't be done. Well, they