Collision Repair 12#1
MANUEL DER HAROUTIOUNIAN
CSN BAYVIEW-STEELES AUTO COLLISION
Manuel Der Haroutiounian is a natural business-builder if there ever was one. Spanning the course of several decades and a few continents, Manuel’s story has always had the recurring theme of constant improvement no matter where he ends up. In Collision Repair’s January 2013 coverage of Manuel and his shop, he remarked that even when he was a young boy in his father’s muffler shop in Lebanon, he was always observing and trying to learn from others.
This passion, not simply for learning the trade, but putting it into practice and excelling is what has set Manuel apart in the industry, and has allowed CSN Bayview-Steeles Auto Collision to be the success that is.
In 1974, not long after taking over for his father at the muffler shop, Manuel made the call to seek success elsewhere, with the Lebanese Civil War looming around the corner. 1976; Manuel has made it to Canada and searches for his calling, dabbling with welding and construction early on. By the time 1979 rolls around, Manuel has linked up with his bodyman brother Ken to open a collision centre together. Though Manuel and Ken went their separate ways in 1992 when Ken decided to open a shop in California, Manuel has made his shop an ongoing project, always looking to expand his operations, both in space and attitude.
“As an industry, we have achieved a higher level of cleanliness. We improved our reception area and made our facilities more receptive to female customers, but there are still many areas we need to improve,” Manuel said back in 2013.
Collision Repair 12#2
SHERRY BAIRD AND JON BELL
Sherry Baird and Jon Bell of Advance Collision know that working at an independent shop can be a tough sell to a potential tech looking for stability. They want to know they will have a steady paycheque and management that will have their back for the long haul. Any employee of Baird or Bell knows they’re covered on all fronts.The co-ownership of Sherry and Jon, supplemented by the excellent work done by co-managers Ramona White and Chris Bradley insists on a commitment to equality and mutual respect in all aspects of running a bodyshop.
White and Bradley strive to make their shop a place that the staff wants to be, going even so far as to encourage their employees to use the space after-hours.“A lot of people lock the shop down and go home at the end of the day,” Ramona said in her 2013 interview with Collision Repair. “People genuinely want to spend time at our shop. We encourage them to hang out here, work on their cars—and they do.”When confronted with the idea of joining up with a banner company, the team at Advance Collision doubled-down and put all of their effort into solidifying their own brand and covering every avenue of business that could come their way.“We had to really sharpen our pencils and work smarter,” said Chris. “We trained our staff to repair windshields, air conditioning and other tasks that we used to sublet out. We’ve definitely expanded our capabilities.”
Collision Repair 12#3
When a shop employs five people, it’s hard to not feel like a family. This is what it’s like working for Claude Taylor, at CARSTAR Rawdon, in Rawdon Quebec. Claude has been co owner of the tight knit shop since 2011. When he looks back over the last ten years he remembers past employees fondly and is happy to employ the people he does now. “Employees have to be happy with their job and enjoy working here without too much pressure,” he says.
“I want them to be happy when they come into work.”A good work environment is reflected to customers, and that’s what Claude is most proud of – the customer service he and his team offer. “It’s nice to have a customer come in and say he’s satisfied with the work that has been done. The ultimate goal is that the customer is satisfied,” he says.
Claude says that as the industry progresses it’s becoming harder and harder to find new workers. With new vehicles coming in for repairs, needing to be calibrated or with damage to their electrical systems technicians need far more training and certificates than they did 20 years ago. His current team is fully capable, many of them qualified to do both body work and paint, but he worries for the future as he is seeing less and less young technicians enter the workforce.
Collision Repair 12#5
Rick Hatswell is a man with big shoes to fill. His father Bill was somewhat of a figure of folklore in the Canadian collision repair world; the bold Australian whose independent shop network took western Canada by storm.For about 15 years now, Rick has been carrying the torch first lit by his father as the current CEO of Craftsman Collision, and has seen the company develop and expand in ways which Bill could have never known back in the late 70s.Under Rick’s leadership, Craftsman has expanded massively, becoming one of the largest collision banners in Canada, despite only working in half the country.
Rick even saw the company take the bold step in opening the first Canadian-owned collision centre in China in 2012.Rick has collision repair in his blood, like many of the best of our industry leaders.“When I was 13 years old, I started repairing a little MGB,” Rick said in his October 2013 interview with Collision Repair. “I worked on it until I was about 16.”Even with his father as the head of the company, Rick put in the work to ensure that he could fend for himself at every stage of his career, including earning his Red Seal.“I think it makes a huge difference in how I see the business,” Rick said. “One of the biggest advantages I have is that I worked in the business from the ground up, learning as I went.”
Collision Repair 12#6
EXCELLENCE AUTO COLLISION
Peter Woo, owner of Excellence Auto Collision has been in the collision repair industry since 1986. Since he was a kid, he has always had a passion for painting. But what was once a hobby eventually led him into a career as an automotive painter, then into his current role as the owner of Excellence Auto Collision.
Woo was on the cover in 2013, when Excellence was one of the only Canadian auto shops that was authorized to perform structural and autobody repairs on Tesla vehicles. Now eight years later, Excellence is still a leader in the Canadian market, as the only auto shop in Canada certified to repair Lucid Motors vehicles, a new electric vehicle brand that has yet to hit the market.
“Being trusted by the manufacturer to fix cars the way they want us to fix them is pretty well the nicest compliment I’ve had.”Woo says one of the biggest shifts he expects to see in the future is a modification to technicians’ skill sets. As cars become more technologically advanced, he says technicians will have to develop several new skills. “As we move towards self-driving cars the ability to understand and calibrate and repair ADAS systems is going to be a big part of the skillsets required to fix the cars of the future.” Josef Stebler retired from the industry in 2014.