Amberson wins ABRN Industry Leadership Award

Jan. 1, 2020
Darrell Amberson, president of Lehman’s Garage, a six-location collision repair operation based in Bloomington, Minn., received the 2009 ABRN Industry Leadership Award during the Collision Industry Achievement Award ceremony Nov. 3 in Las Vegas

Darrell Amberson, president of Lehman’s Garage, a six-location collision repair operation based in Bloomington, Minn., received the 2009 ABRN Industry Leadership Award during the Collision Industry Achievement Award ceremony Nov. 3 in Las Vegas. The awards were presented at a lunch break during the Collision Industry Conference.

Amberson, who was tending to business outside the room when the award was announced, said he was surprised by the honor. “You never expect to receive this type of award,” he says. “It’s a great honor.”

He currently serves on the Automotive Service Association (ASA) board of directors as Collision Division director, and also holds the fifth seat on the board's executive committee. As Collision Division director, Amberson also serves as chairman of the Collision Division Operations Committee.

Amberson is a 37-year veteran of the collision repair industry and was the NACE chairman in 2007 and 2008.

He participates actively in a number of industry groups including the CIC Database Task Force, the URG Advisory Committee and the Database Enhancement Gateway (DEG) Joint Operating Committee, CCC/Motor Industry Forum Group, and the AASP-MN Workforce Task Group and Government Affairs Committee.

Amberson started working part time in a dealership while in high school working as a car runner/detailer. He continued to work there while working on a degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Minnesota Institute of Technology.

Amberson said the young dealership had a hot product line, Oldsmobile and was growing rapidly and provided a lot of opportunity. “There was an overabundance of engineers and if you could find a job starting pay was low. I changed plans and pursued a career within the dealership.”

He began working as a warranty administrator for the dealership when they offered him a position to price warranty work for strictly the body shop and offered to teach him estimating.

“It suited me and I enjoyed it. I thrived on the challenge of getting all the damage covered on the estimate and performing the calculations. Within a few years I was an assistant manager and became the manager a few years after that. The body shop grew to a staff of over 25 people.”

He went to work for Lehman's, and specifically Dick Cossette, in 1990 when he became aware of ASA and Cossette's involvement within the industry. That started his involvement with ASA. Cossette, who had been the company’s owner since 1969, made Amberson general manager in 1999. Cossette served as his boss, friend and mentor until his passing in August of 2002. Amberson had become president of the company earlier that same year.

Amberson spent two years as a professional drag racer of Nitro funny cars and finished third in the International Hot Rod Association’s World Championship Points Race in 1989.

He serves as chairman of the Hennepin Technical Colleges Advisory Council, and earned his Accredited Automotive Manager (AAM) designation in 1998, and was awarded the inaugural Russ Verona Memorial IBIS Scholarship at NACE 2006.

Later during the awards ceremony, Amberson also was presented with the Hall of Eagles award for his long-time meritorious service to the industry.

Other awards presented during the ceremony were:

• Fix Auto National Customer Service Index Champion to Fix Auto Illinois, Tennessee & Alabama operating group. The award was received by Nick Gojneric, owner of Collision Plus Auto Body Repair Centers, with four locations in Illinois.

• Collision Industry Electronic Commerce Association Outstanding Contribution to CSi Complete.

• Collision Industry Electronic Commerce Association Electronic Commerce Company of the Year to Performance Claims.

• Toby Chess “Special Thank You’s” for participation in the training of first responders to Progressive Insurance, Kent Automotive, The Van Tuyl Automotive Group and 911 Collision.

• CSi Complete Clearly Elite Award to Darren Huggins from the Van Tuyl Group.

• VeriFacts Automotive Repair Center ACE Award to Marco’s Auto Body, San Gabriel, Calif.

• VeriFacts March Taylor Technician ACE Award to Jeff Mase, Collision Plus of Glen Carbon, and Edwardsville, Ill.

• VeriFacts Commitment to Consumer Award to Chrysler Corporation and to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

• Collision Industry “Quiet” Award to Charles Dillard, Precision Collision, Beaverton, Ore.

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