By Jeff Sanford
Oakville, Ontario — April 26, 2017 — Budds’ Collision has a reputation as one of this country’s most progressive and advanced collision repair centres. The Oakville, Ontario shop was an early adopter of lean processes and Six Sigma. The facility was the first in Canada to install a full aluminum room. This past February, the company received confirmation of this esteemed status when it captured the Shop of the Year award from the Coyote Group.
The award is a fitting tribute to an organization that has managed to carry on the tradition of excellence begun by the company’s well-known co-owner, Sam Piercey. He tragically passed away in July 2016. But it is clear that Piercey’s protege, J.R. Martino, is stepping up to lead the company forward, just as his mentor would want.
Piercey was a long-standing member of an elite group of shop owners known as the Coyote Group. The organization brings together 35 owners of 88 shops from across North America. The collision repair executives compare and share best practices over three-day meetings held quarterly. Piercey left the group when the direction of meetings started to become less applicable to Canadian shops (the vast majority of Coyote Group members are American). But when Martino heard through the grapevine that the group was returning to its roots, he thought he should join.
“Sam set up a meeting, and I was accepted,” says Martino. Acceptance is no small thing. Membership is strictly controlled and requirements are strictly enforced. Prospective members need to belong to an organization that generates at least $3 million in sales a year. Shops have to apply Six Sigma policies and be upstanding members of the industry, among other things.
“You can’t remain a member if there is a change of ownership or control. You can’t miss more than three consecutive meetings. You have to be willing to submit financial data. You need to be a progressive shop and be open to change,” says Martino. “You also have to have the right mix of DRP, OEM and dealership relations and be focused on best practices while repairing vehicles to OEM specifications. These are the most sophisticated, progressive shops in the industry. It’s the group to belong to.”
Jeff Murphy, Director of PBE Sales for Eastern Canada for FinishMaster Canada, knew Piercey well. He believes J.R. Martino has done an outstanding job carrying on Piercey’s legacy. Murphy’s not the only member of the industry to acknowledge the sterling work that Martino and Budds’ have done. Steve Gallace is Ontario Regional Manager for 3M, a company that has had a relationship
with Budds’ for many years.
“Budds’ has always been an innovator in the industry,” says Gallace. “Sam was always great for brininging young techs onboard, as well as giving back to the community. J.R. has done a great job of stepping into that position. He’s earned the respect of the production and office staff.”
Scott Spike would likely agree. Spike is PPG’s Regional Manager – Ontario and Atlantic Canada.
“I think J.R.’s done an absolutely phenomenal job stepping into that role. He’s got a passion for the industry and for the Budds’ family,” says Spike. “His dedication to quality and to his people makes him stand out.”
Coyote Group meetings follow a set format. Day one is filled with meetings and speakers. The topics cover off all the cutting edge subjects of the day. The second day is Martino’s favourite. The execs sit down with an expert accountant and take a deep look into financial numbers.
“We dive into the numbers and talk about which financial measures are working and which ones aren’t. It’s extremely comprehensive. You really get to know what you’re doing,” says Martino.
The third day the executives concentrate on human resources issues such as recruiting and onboarding. “Lately we’ve really been working on the employee life cycle. How do you keep employees engaged through their career? What kind of planning can you do to keep them engaged? You have to offer them a path to advance. They have a place to grow. That’s the only way employees buy into a corporate plan and feel connected to the job and the company,” says Martino.
The next meeting will see the group come up to Toronto and tour the Oakville location of Budds’. But it was the most recent meeting in
February in Palm Spring that was especially memorable for Martino.
Each year the Coyote Group grants the Shop of the Year award to one organization. The winner is selected based on a variety of measures including employee retention rates, community values, business mix and the volume of the shop (as measured per sq. ft.).
This year Budds’ took the Shop of the Year award. It was presented at the main dinner of the weekend. It was a fitting tribute to the mentorship of Sam Piercey and marked the efforts of Martino to carry on that legacy, as well as recognition of the efforts of everyone at Budds’. It was a genuine and touching moment.
The lessons passed along from Piercey have clearly paid off. “It’s been the highlight of my career,” says Martino.