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March Taylor Memorial Fund

HAMMER & DOLLY MAGAZINE ARTICLE

Mahalo, March

As told to Alicia D’Aquila; written by Joel Gausten

            On August 26, 2007, the collision repair world said goodbye to a dear friend. While many in the industry knew March Taylor from his impassioned presentations at CIC or his selfless commitment to changing the auto body field for the better, others knew him as a dedicated family man, compassionate business owner and someone whose impact on the day-to-day lives of the national automotive repair community will be felt forever.

            “We were like brothers,” says Toby Chess, who partnered with March in making the industry’s most endearing technical training team. “March was an unsung hero of this industry.”

            Like numerous repairers throughout the country, members of the WMABA family have also been hit hard by the loss of March.

            “I have heard many people say that March’s untimely passing is a loss to our industry, but beyond that, it is a true loss to humanity; there are few individuals with this caliber of character in the world,” says WMABA Treasurer Aaron Schulenburg. “His charisma, generosity and his never-straying desire to do the right thing resonated in everything he did. It was his consistent demonstration that a single individual CAN make such a positive impact and influence so much change that motivates me and others in our lives and careers.”

            “March was a great man,” adds WMABA Vice President Barry Dorn. “He was humble and passionate for all things collision-related, as well as life in general. He was a man’s man who possessed a warm heart and a talent for all things technical. I had the honor of spending several days with March one-on-one at his shop a few weeks ago. I worked side by side with him and the great people in his shop, and I can tell you it changed me.”

            I’m just blown away by this. It’s very, very shocking,” says WMABA Board member Mike Anderson. “The quality of the work he did, the amount of time he donated to industry efforts…nobody was above him. I really feel for March’s family and staff, who were his self-proclaimed second family. This is a huge loss to the repair community.”

            CIC Business Management Committee member Michael Quinn, who most recently co-presented a seminar with March at CIC’s meeting in Orlando in July, remembers his friend as a man with a genuine love of sharing his knowledge with others.

            “March was a very laid back kind of guy, but you could tell he’d get this twinkle in his eye when he was sharing something that would potentially benefit the industry,” he says. “He got a real pleasure from helping people learn. It was really magical to watch him in action.”

            Despite the great acclaim he received from his peers, March never saw himself as above anyone else.

            “In 2001, March was inducted into the Hall of Eagles – sort of like a Hall of Fame for the collision repair industry that all the superstars are inducted in,” remembers Chess. “Well, when are you are inducted, you get an eagle pin, which some people wear to various industry functions. March wouldn’t wear his, and when asked why, he’d say, ‘What do I care?’ It’s not that he didn’t appreciate the honor – he was beyond proud of this achievement – but he didn’t feel the need to flaunt it. He didn’t give a damn about the attention – he just did what he did because of his love for the industry.

            “There’s a side of March not many people knew,” adds Chess. “He’d be in the office early in the morning, on the weekends, after hours, all the time, answering emails from other repairers around the country. Again, he didn’t do it for any kind of recognition – he just did it because it was the right thing to do.”

            When not working at his thriving business, March pursued his other love – diving.

            “The man had gills,” says Chess. “He would always compete with his two diving buddies, diving for octopus, and he’d always win hands-down.”

            Quinn recalls how March introduced many of his industry friends to the magic of Hawaiian culture.

            “My son and I visited him while my family was vacationing in Hawaii, and he took us out ‘octopus hunting’ – what he called diving for octopus – and we couldn’t keep up with him,” he says. He knew the Pacific Ocean and Kona Island like the back of his hand. While we were diving, March turned to my son and said, ‘Would you like to swim with dolphins?’ He knew a school of dolphins was coming our way. I don’t know how; I was in the boat and he was in the water and we couldn’t see anything. But March led us to the school in the boat, threw my son in the water and before you know it, there he was swimming with dolphins. And there was that twinkle in March’s eye.”

            “For years, I must admit I did tease him about some of the Hawaiian dialect and culture,” adds Dorn. “That was until I went there and experienced the things most tourists never see, like how locals interact with each other. Now I see the importance of the Hawaiian traditions. Everyone at Autobody Hawaii made me feel welcomed. More important, March’s wife Patty and his beautiful granddaughters welcomed me into their home literally with open arms.”

            As the collision world moves forward, it will be doing so without one of its true guiding lights. Although he is gone, March will live on in the hearts of his friends working to make the industry a better place for all.

            As Anderson says, “On behalf of March, I’d like to make a plea to AASP, ASA and SCRS. In light of March’s passing, these industry initiatives become even more crucial. Please make them a reality – if not for us, to honor March’s memory and all the time he gave us.”

            “People like March Taylor paved the way for us,” adds Quinn. “When I started out in this business, there was no I-CAR or CIC. I hope that March’s death – and his life – teaches us all that time is short, and there’s no reason not to jump into the industry with both feet and make some changes. The water’s fine; March made sure of that.”

From the October 2007 issue of Hammer & Dolly magazine. ©Thomas Greco Publishing

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