How Raj Johal’s passion paved his way to success


It may not seem like it these days, but the collision repair industry is very lucky. Few industries still allow room for the passion and personality that’s present in this field.

Managers can build reflections of their values and ideals in the shops that they run and make active adjustments to the culture of their and the employee’s environment—and Raj Johal, manager of Craftsman Collision Delta has done exactly that.

With a bright, genuine smile and a longstanding passion for cars and their evolution, Raj has been running his shop in Metro Vancouver for the past four years, and feels prepared to meet any challenge that comes his way.

“It all started with my love for cars,” said Raj in an interview with Collision Repair. “My love for all things automotive was sparked at a very early age; I just loved everything about them, and my passion progressed into a career working in the automotive field. When I got a chance to start with Craftsman Collision, I immediately knew I was in the right place.”

Billy Lunot, parts coordinator, mirror matching parts using TCW process.

Jose Figueroa, left, and Vinny Chandra Red Seal refinishing technicians.

Sam Singh, assistant manager at Craftsman Collision Delta, estimating using TCW (The Craftsman Way) process.

Jose Figueroa, refinish technician, painting to perfection.

Raj Johal, manager of Craftsman Collision Delta.

“Raj and his team truly define and are in alignment with our company vision, empowered in the fast lane of innovation to be the performance leader in every market we serve,”

Mike O’Callaghan, COO and VP Operations, Craftsman Collision

Raj’s upbringing as a passionate do-it-yourself-er helped plant the seeds for the level of care and devotion that he and his staff put into repairs every day.

“I did a lot of projects in my own garage, took my own cars apart. When something was wrong with my vehicles, I never took them to a garage to get them fixed; I always tried to fix them myself. When it got too complicated, I’d call a tow truck, send it off to a mechanic and let them finish it up, but I’d really try and do things myself,” said Raj.

Raj wasn’t always certain he’d end up in autobody, however. After high school, he took a few years away from the classroom to find his place in the world. “Back then, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career. I took a couple years off and had some menial jobs. But as soon as I heard of the chance to start with Craftsman as an assistant manager, it all felt right. “Here we are, 20 years later!”

“Early on, the company wasn’t as big as it is now,” remarked Raj. “We didn’t exactly have defined positions like estimators and parts production people.

Kyle Wishinski, Red Seal body technician making safe, proper repairs.

Happy Haher, Red Seal body technician showcasing state of the art aluminum repair equipment for OEM certifications including Ford.

I was hired on as an assistant manager, but I essentially was a vehicle estimator,” said Raj. “I was very, very new to the business. I didn’t know a lot about collision repair, but obviously I knew a lot about cars. When you know a lot about cars it becomes a tad easier to write estimates. That’s where I started.”

The journey hasn’t been without bumps in the road, as Raj found a steep learning curve when given the opportunity to run a shop on his own. “It was quite overwhelming right at the beginning. Not knowing the ins-and-outs of this business; not knowing the insurance protocols,” said Raj.

Though, with his natural managerial skills, Raj managed to learn the ropes and more in his first six months on the job. Before long, Raj had developed his own way of doing things around the sh op.

“I definitely employ a collaborative management style. I like to involve our whole team when it comes to input, ensuring that every team member is important and a part of our solutions.”

The results of Raj’s philosophy have clearly paid off, as he is proud to say that he has a number of longstanding employees among his 11-strong team of staff.

“Both of my painters are nearing the 30-year mark with Craftsman Collision.

Our bookkeeper has been here for probably about 15 years. I’ve got a couple of techs that are probably close to 10 to 15 years,” he beamed.

With his trusted team of veteran body techs and refinish techs, Raj says he’s not only just prepared for the technological challenges in the collision industry’s near future, he’s pretty jazzed about it too.

“I think we’re very prepared. Craftsman Collision is very dedicated to having the best technology, the best equipment and the best training for our employees. Those three things are very important for the evolution of vehicles and I think our company provides that for us. It’s very important for us to ensure that our techs are trained on the most current technology that’s out there,” said Raj.

“The incoming changes to modern vehicles are what’s really exciting to me. Cars are ever-evolving, especially in the last few years with electric coming on strong. Today, we’ve got pre-collision warnings on vehicles and all the electronics that drive vehicles.”

Craftsman Collision Delta currently stands in prime position to address these technological advances as they come too, thanks to the veritable treasure trove of OEM certifications they have under their belt.

“We’re Ford-certified; Hyundai/Genes is-certified; FCA-certified; we have Nissan-certification; we are Kia-certified; and we’re also a partner in the Certified Collision Care network, which is Canada’s nationally recognized OEM certification program” said Raj.

Raj’s shop is his pride and joy, and the care and attention he puts into his work speaks to that. Ultimately, he wants his staff to trust him as much as he trusts them.

“Our main focus is keeping the doors open and keeping all of our staff employed, which we have. Company-wide with Craftsman, we’ve kept all of our doors open at all of our locations. It’s a true testament to the brand and the loyalty to our company, to our insurance providers, to our people that work for us, to our customers,” said Raj.

Mike O’Callaghan, COO and Vice-President, Craftsman Collision, also boasts of Raj’s dedication to managing the Delta, B.C. location.

“Raj consistently displays a can do positive mental attitude,” said O’Callaghan. “People are naturally drawn to him. Raj understands walking with purpose and is not afraid to make decisions, learn from his mistakes-as we like to say “adapt and keep it moving-what’s next”. Further, Raj’s focuses as a manager align well with the Craftsman Collision company goals, said O’Callaghan.

“Raj and his team truly define and are in alignment with our company vision, empowered in the fast lane of innovation to be the performance leader in every market we serve,” he said. “The team is aware that Craftsman truly values them and that their opinion matters. That we encourage innovation and believe everyone is a leader in their functional role. We support learning from our mistakes and see problems as opportunities.”

And there’s only more greatness to come for the collision centre. “We’ve had a lot going on in the last year,” said Raj. “A lot of devising internal programs for ourselves to ensure we come out of COVID stronger than ever before. We want to be one of the best. Craftsman Collision Delta is up there with the best of our industry, I’d say.”

You can expect Raj to stay there too, which is acknowledged by his shop’s recent Tier 1 accreditation from the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). He has no plans on going anywhere as he plans on running his shop until he retires.

The collision repair industry is lucky. Not simply because it allows passionate people to share in a collaborative and exciting work culture. But because it has people like Raj Johal to help lead it.

For more information on the Craftsman Collision Group, please visit craftsmancollision.com.

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