GENERAL MANAGER, CO-OWNER OF BUDDS’ COLLISION, INDUSTRY MENTOR
Sam Piercey was introduced to Collision Repair readers through his column, Point Blank with Piercey. In his columns, Sam didn’t simply write with candor, but with a palpable compassion for those he saw as comrades in the collision industry; his fellow business-owners, his extended family.
When issues would come up concerning the future of the collision industry, Sam never used his platform to broadcast doom and gloom; he was raw and honest, but never cynical. Whether calling for action on better labour rates for techs, calling out crooked tow companies, or calling his shot on how the future will unfold, Sam always wrote with a mission in mind. Never off-the-cuff, never blowing hot air or using his platform for self-centred ranting; Sam was both considerate and deliberate when giving his views.
People connected to Sam and his writing, even when it was tough—maybe especially when it was tough. Sam never minced words in his columns. If your shop was in jeopardy because of this or that training program that was ignored, Sam would let you know “Your shop is in jeopardy because of this training program you ignored,” simple as that.
He wasn’t condemning anybody; he was just looking out for his peers. He truly wanted everyone at their best and properly informed. The last thing any shop owner wants is to be blindsided by some drastic industry shift and have no mentor to look to for advice. Sam was that mentor. He made a mission out of cultivating a generation of progressive-minded repairers to carry on his legacy and that of his family—a generation of tough, hardworking tradespeople with one eye always on the bigger picture.
Sam closed off his September 2012 edition of Point Blank with Piercey with a remark where he addresses the collision industry as family. Nearly ten years later, the weight behind those words has only become greater. “There’s an old saying about what the tough do when the going gets tough. Brothers and Sisters, it’s time to get going.”
Sam Piercey The life of the party, all the time.
Sam Piercey died on July 24, 2016.
CSN 427 AUTO COLLISION
D’Alessandro was nearing 90 years old and had served as president of CSN 427 Auto Collision for 40 years, from the company’s foundation to when he passed on executive management to his three sons in 2011.
Ralph was described as “a born leader who took calculated risks that others wouldn’t even consider. He forged strategic partnerships across the automotive repair industry and actively pursued the latest innovations. He always made time to share insights and lessons with his three sons, grandchildren and dedicated employees many of whom worked with him for over 30 years. His commitment to continual improvement was a thread woven into the family principles nurtured by him and his wife Gina and the values of the family business.
Ralph used to say, “If you eat small bites, you can eat all the time. You don’t want to choke.”
Some of Ralph’s greatest accolades in the aftermarket include being the first facility in North America to adopt the Sikkens brand of refinish coatings–which the business still uses to this day–and serving as one of first facilities in the CSN Collision Centre fold in 2001.
Ralph D’Alessandro died on July 26, 2021.
A longtime representee for 3M Canada’s Automotive Aftermarket division, Richard ‘Rick’ Berg had a passion for the trade and pursued it through a 23-year-long career with the company.
Following Rick’s sudden death, 3M instated the annual Rick Berg Invitational Golf Tournament as a fundraising effort to support both the operation of the Epilepsy Support Centre in London, Ontario as well as to raise awareness and facilitate important research around epilepsy-related deaths. Over the course of five years, the event raised over $200,000 in Rick’s memory.
In honour of Rick’s excellence in the industry, 3M also named an annual award after him. The Rick Berg Award is bestowed upon 3M sales representatives who exhibit the highest level of performance and sales professionalism in the Automotive Aftermarket Division.
Rick Berg died on April 27, 2010.
Collision Repair Magazine remembers Denis Bellemore, former vice-president at NAPA Auto Parts. Denis was widely regarded as a positive force in the Canadian auto industry, acting as a vocal supporter, s p o n s o r a n d volunteer for many industry events. Taken from us far too soon, Denis is remembered fondly by his partner, his children and his entire extended family at NAPA/UAP.
Denis Bellemore died on September 15, 2009.
ONTARIO COLLEGE OF TRADES
John Norris, executive director of the Collision Industry Information Assistance was known as a defender of the Canadian collision industry.
John is also known for playing a major role in the establishment of the Ontario College of Trades. He founded the CIIA in the 1990s, serving as the organization’s executive director for more than 20 years, while also playing a key role in the Ontario College of Trades. His efforts on behalf of the organization were celebrated in 2017, when John was awarded as the Ontario College of Trades’ first Prize of Excellence recipient.
Norris is survived by his wife, Annette; children, Theresa, Richard and Jeffrey, and grandchildren Quinn and Owen.
John Norris died on May 28, 2019.
Collision Repair Magazine remembers Dave Smith, AkzoNobel’s former country manager for Canada and dear friend to the publication.
Dave worked hard and dedicated himself to building the Akzo Nobel brand across Canada, while also acting as long-standing supporter of industry events like CCIF.
He joined the company in 1993, working up from various positions in sales and operations before being appointed to the position of country manager for Canada in 2010.
Remembered by his wife, three children and many, many friends, Dave gave 40 years of himself to this industry. This magazine and the Canadian aftermarket is eternally thankful for it.
Dave Smith died on May 28, 2018.
CAMPBELLFORD AUTO BODY
There are few names in the Ontario collision repair community that carry the same weight as Carlaw.
If you’ve had a car repaired in eastern Ontario at some point in the last seventy years, there is a distinct possibility that that repair was brought to you by a Carlaw; a true collision repair dynasty, and Harold was its patriarch.
Harold Carlaw came in at the ground floor of collision repair in the early 1950’s, running Campbellford Auto Body, in part, by supplementing the business with the sale of scrap and artefacts from WWII aircraft; a passion of Harold’s that would evolve alongside the growth of his collision repair business.
Harold Carlaw passed away at Campbellford Memorial Hospital on Dec. 6, 2010.
FIX AUTO ST. JOHN’S
Change is a scary thing when it comes and you aren’t ready; it’s scary even if you are. When an abrupt, fundamental change occurs, some look to cut their losses and get out ahead of the uncertainty. Others look to a trailblazer like Chris O’Neill to light the path to continued success.
When waterborne paint legislation had the collision industry sweating, Chris and his team at Fix Auto St. John’s managed to stay stoic and face the challenge head-on.
Chris helped open Fix Auto St. John’s in late 2010, but has been a fixture in his community for far longer.
He is remembered as the caring, empathetic man who grew up playing street hockey on Cornwall Crescent; the man who taught his friends and family to drive stick.
With the loss of Chris, the collision industry suffered yet another abrupt, fundamental change. But in change there is always the hope that a new light will emerge, and it seems safe to say that Chris’ light influenced many future torchbearers of the collision industry.
Chris O’Neill passed away on February 18, 2021.