IAAL Update: Gaining Momentum

May 2, 2024
Ed Woods talks IAAL conference in 2025, importance of new NASTF program, and growth for the association

Locksmith Ledger caught up with International Association of Automotive Locksmiths (IAAL) President Ed Woods to talk about the association’s plans for 2024 and beyond, including a new IAAL conference in the works for the spring of 2024, increased automotive training and classes at the ALOA Conference in July, as well as his thoughts on the new The National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF) Aftermarket Scan Tool Validation Program, which as of press time was causing quite a stir among automotive locksmiths.

As a division of ALOA Security Professionals Association, Inc., IAAL was created two years ago to address the needs of automotive locksmithing, which is getting more specialized each year, with high-end, often expensive programming equipment and tools required, as well as the need for locksmiths to keep up with the evolution and changes for each car manufacturer’s programmers over time.

NASTF Aftermarket Scan Tool Validation Program

One of the hottest topics within automotive locksmithing is the NASTF Aftermarket Scan Tool Validation Program, which is utilizing NASTF SDRM technology in an industry wide effort to reduce:

·       High-tech vehicle theft

·       Theft of security capable tools

·       Injury and property damage to technicians and shops who own these tools

As part of the program, which NASTF said it is fast-tracking to begin in the May-June timeframe (approximately 45-60 days was noted in NASTF’s March announcement), locksmiths will be responsible for verifying the identity of the vehicle owner but are not required to fill out a D1 paperwork. The tool and NASTF will take care of this D1 process behind the scenes. Toolmakers have the capability to offer both online and 24-hour offline functionality. As part of the program, locksmiths will need a NASTF VSP ID to use a scan tool to perform security functions including:

·       Add a key

·       All keys lost

·       Immobilizer functions

·       Any other process that the OE determines to be security related

As a 501 C6 not-for-profit organization established in 2000 by Automakers and the independent aftermarket to identify and resolve gaps in Service information, Tool Information and Training, NASTF has more than 39,500 members in the US and Canada. In addition to acting as a liaison to automakers and repair technicians NASTF also runs the Secure Data Release Model providing credentials to technicians and locksmiths who require access to security related automotive information and systems.

“Their new program is creating a big stir,” notes Woods, as locksmiths are concerned about additional costs and quick timeline NASTF is giving them to comply. “You must prove you're a legitimate locksmith and show them that, like here in Illinois, you have a locksmith license. It's just another hoop that we're going to have to jump through to be automotive locksmiths, but in the end, it's going to be better.”

Woods is confident the program will help to weed out scammers and criminals who are hurting the automotive locksmithing industry – and putting locksmiths in harm’s way in some instances because of the high value of the programming equipment they are after.

“The problem in the Chicago-land area alone – I believe last year there were 18 locksmiths who were either held up or robbed or broken into and their equipment was stolen. And once that equipment gets out there, that equipment can program keys and you can learn from YouTube how to program those keys. So [with this program] now they're trying to get it to where those programmers are useless.”

He continues, “Because the automotive insurance agencies are twisting the legislators’ and the government's arms and working with the manufacturers, they're making it more and more difficult to program the keys, but they're also opening avenues for the legitimate locksmith to get recognized as a legitimate locksmith. And so that we can have access to the manufacturers’ websites, and we can program these vehicles and try to keep it out of the hands of the scammers and the thugs, for example.”

Under the new program, after 24 hours of not logging in with your credentials, the programmer will not work. “I think it's a fantastic thing,” says Woods. “I mean, there's guys that are getting shot over these programmers, so we need to protect them in any way we can. Yes, it's an inconvenience, but it's something you'll get used to and when the thugs find out that stealing your programmer isn’t getting them much, they'll find a different way, and maybe it'll be less dangerous for the locksmith in certain areas.”

Overall, Woods sees the increasing role that NASTF has on locksmiths and their businesses as a positive, even if there are a few more hoops to jump through.

“It's going to thin the herd … allowing legitimate locksmiths to raise their price, which keeps some of the bottom feeders out, so you get more of a premium for doing the vehicles that are harder to do,” he explains. “It's more of a specialty field where there's a lot of guys out there and that's basically all they do … and it's getting much more specialized each year.”

In addition to protecting locksmiths and their equipment, the new program simplifies some processes, such as filling out the D1 form and paperwork.

“It's unbelievable the amount of paperwork you have to go through to fill out this D1 form,” explains Woods. “Now you don't have to fill out the D1 form as long as you're a NASTF member … and you don't have to go and do nine miles of paperwork; It's actually going to be easier on the legit guys once it's all set up.”

Conference and Education

IAAL held its first automotive-focused conference in September of 2023 in Kansas City, a show that brought nearly 300 automotive locksmiths together for two-and-a-half days of training and an exhibit hall with manufacturers. Building on the success of that show, Woods is excited to bring the conference back in the spring of 2025, which he believes will be better timing for locksmiths.

“Last year's show turned out to be a little bit better than I even expected,” says Woods, who is currently working with the IAAL board to nail down a host city and dates for 2025. “For the first show, our attendance was up where we wanted it to be, but I was a little bit disappointed with the show floor and wish we had had a few more vendors. We had all the big guys there, and hope with more time to get the word out, that will increase next year.”

Woods also hopes to add a day of training and education, which he said was the highlight at the inaugural conference in Kansas City and will be the No. 1 priority for the next event. “The show was good, but the education was phenomenal,” he points out. “It was one of the most diversified education events I have been a part of.”

Following the retirement of Jim Hetchler, the force behind the popular but discontinued Just Cars automotive convention, Woods believes the IAAL convention has the potential to be that trusted resource each year for the automotive locksmithing community.

“I was involved with Just Cars and working with Jim for 20 years,” says Woods. “In 20 years, I missed one Just Cars, and I was very involved, not only as an instructor, but in assisting Jim in planning and layout – it was a great event. But when Jim decided to end the show, we felt that IAAL should step up and do something. And it was great to have Jim and his lovely wife come to our first show, and his son-in-law was also one of the instructors, in addition to many instructors who taught at Just Cars, so it was great to have Jim there supporting what we were doing.”

In addition to the second IAAL convention in 2025, ALOA is increasing the number of automotive training classes at this year’s ALOA conference in Las Vegas in July.

“ALOA is having double the number of automotive classes that they had last year,” says Woods, noting that many of the top automotive instructors who taught at Just Cars and the first IAAL event, see the benefit of the ALOA certification and opportunities to teach at the ALOA conference.

Growth and New IAAL President

After two years under his belt as president, along with strong support and backing from ALOA, and a show brought nearly 300 together to carry on the tradition that was once Just Cars, Woods is excited for the continued growth of IAAL.

“Automotive locksmiths are starting to see what we are doing and getting involved,” says Woods. “And I am really excited about it because they jumped on and said if Ed is going to be involved with IAAL then they are interested in listening to what there is to go on here, because that's all I've taught for 20 years. All I’ve taught was automotive, and I was in both organizations, and there's a lot of guys that I had the respect of that are joining me in ALOA.”

While Woods has enjoyed his time as president helping to launch IAAL, he is ready to pass the reigns next year at the IAAL conference when they vote on the board members for IAAL. “I'd like to be voted off the island at the next event and let someone else take over as the leadership role,” he says. “But I am not going anywhere, and I intend to stay on as a trustee if they'll have me in order to help.”

He continues, “I am the inaugural president and I'll have served almost four years by next year, but it's time for new blood to come in and me to be the backup and that's all there is to it.”

Woods is confident the association and conference will continue to grow, under his and future leadership.

“That's the legacy I want – that I started something that was just kind of small, but it's built into something much bigger,” says Woods. “Many years from now I would like to see 900 attendees, instead of 300, and 40-50 vendors instead of 12-15. That is what I would like to see.”