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BUSINESS AT BUDDS

Budds’ Collision Services grows even bigger

Story by ALLISON ROGERS

The team at Budds’ Collision has been busy, to say the least.

Amid pandemic slowdowns, Oakville, Ontario Budds’ Collision Services took time to complete long-planned renovations to its already-massive collision centre, adding a drive-thru estimate centre and plenty of square footage for breathing room.

But renovations weren’t the only plans on the docket for the team—the company opened a brand-new collision centre around the corner from Budds’ Collision, a facility partnered with TD Auto Insurance.

The Budds’-backed TD Insurance Auto Centre focusses strictly on the insurer’s cus- tomers, said J.R. Martino, general manager for Budds’ Collision Services. While the outer facade and front office may trick you into thinking the building is a bank, inside those green walls waits a team of adjusters and repairers, ready to tackle whatever job comes their way.

“When you walk in, the adjusters are sitting right at the front. They contact the customer, handle the claim and set them up with a rental vehicle,” said Martino, adding that the facility has an Enterprise podium on-site. “The car then goes to the back and we start the fix.” While many may assume adjusters and repairers co-existing in the same space could result in miscommunications, Martino says that’s not the case for this team.

“Sometimes there may be the odd discon- nect between the adjusters and repairers in the back, but we’re incredibly fortunate to have a team that gets on so well.”

The TD Insurance Auto Centre opened just before the pandemic hit, said Martino—but that did little to dampen its success in the Oakville market.

“TD has a lot of claims out in this area, catering to the teachers and other occupa- tional insurance programs in Oakville. That collision centre has been hugely successful,” said Martino.

Despite the TD location being a stone’s throw from the Budds’ Collision site, both facilities handle starkly different work mixes. “At the TD facility, about 30 percent of repairs are luxury,” said Martino. “At Budds’ Collision, it’s flipped—about 70 percent of our work here in luxury, and 30 percent is economy cars.”

Martino said Budds’ also recently embarked on Audi certification, noticing a marked increase in the number of Audis cruising the streets of Oakville.

“The Audi dealership in this area sells a ton of cars, and we repair plenty of Audis at the TD facility. If we’re going to be doing a ton of Audi repairs, it’s our responsibility to become certified.”

Budds’ touts OEM certifications from nearly every automaker you can think of, including BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover and more than 20 others.

With training supports from OEMs and the collision centre’s paint provider PPG, combined with a team that truly wants staff to succeed, Martino said Budds’ boasts a high staff retention rate. He largely credits the longevity to positive shop culture and promoting within.

“Our senior estimator, Juan, used to be a mechanic. He came [to Budds’] on the day and said, ‘I heard you’re hiring us randoms,’ because we had actually just hired his buddy in another department. I gave the guy a chance—now he’s a manager,” explained Martino.

“Another one of our staff did the same— came in off the street and asked if we were hiring. I put him in the parts department, and he did a great job there.”

Martino says he feels a certain kinship with those who simply walk up and ask for a job; just a decade ago he was in the same position, asking the late Budds’ Collision general manager Sam Piercey if he could work under his command.

“I kept stopping by and meeting up with Sam,” said Martino. “Every time I sat and talked with him, we’d have an awesome conversation. About the industry, about life—just about anything. And then he would send me on my way.

“I later quit the job I was at and came to Sam. I told him, ‘Listen, either I’m going to work for you or I’ll work for someone else, and he gave me a chance.”

Now, after nearly ten years as the general manager of Budds’ Collision Services, it’s clear Piercey made the right choice in passing the torch to Martino’s more than capable hands. With the rest of 2022 ahead, Budds’ has no plans on slowing down. With business at TD operating smoothly Budds’ plans to continue its plan of expansion.

And, from a more personal perspective, Martino said, provided everything stays stable regarding the pandemic, the Budds’ Collision Holiday Pig Roast could be in the cards for the 2022 season.

“If the COVID situation shifts to our rearview mirror, we hope to continue the Pig Roast tradition,” he said.

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