Collision Repair 4#1
CRAFTSMAN COLLISION GROUP
When the mountains called, Bill Hatswell answered. As the founder of Craftsman Collision, one of western Canada’s most trusted banners, the Hatswell name is synonymous with autobody in British Columbia and Alberta. Bill’s story begins on the complete other side of the world, however, in Adelaide, Australia.
By 1970, Bill had been running a successful bodyshop for a number of years in the south coast city, until everything changed during a trip to the Canadian Rockies.
“A friend of mine invited me skiing,” said Hatswell in his 2005 interview with Collision Repair. “I tried it, fell in love with it, and it became an absolute passion. I told my wife I wanted to move to Canada. She thought I’d lost my marbles.” So, Bill traded in his surfboard for a pair of skis and set about opening his first shop in his new home of Vancouver, British Columbia.
“That building was the epitome of the state of the industry in 1977,” said Bill. “Filthy, totally unattractive, unfriendly and almost hostile. That was the industry in those days.” Both a great chorus for a punk song and a motivating starting point for a business owner, Bill got to work cleaning up the image and performance of his shop and giving himself the ability to rapidly expand to three shops by 1981.
Fast-forward to today and Craftsman is the largest independent collision network in western Canada, boasting more than 40 locations west of Manitoba and a staff of more than 600.
Collision Repair 4#2
DON STRONG AND WALTER GREGO
ASSURED AUTOMOTIVE ONTARIO EAST
Don Strong, the once co-owner of Ottawaarea collision centres Assured Automotive Ontario East alongside business partner Walter Grego, retired in 2017. His collision repair career, however, can be summed up in one word—and it also happens to be his last name.
Strong held a spectrum of roles over the course of his career: licensed tradesperson and licensed painter, in addition to various management positions and his role as co-owner and operator at the Ottawa shops for a cumulative 12 years.
What gives Strong the most pride is knowing that he’s helped the next generation of greats launch their careers in the automotive aftermarket.
“I had such great opportunities with so many young people over the years. I brought them into the trade to apprentice them and watched them blossom into full-fl edged technicians and painters, and showcase their skills in bodyshops all across the Ottawa area and beyond. That is undoubtedly my proudest moment.”
Nowadays, Strong spends his well-earned retirement relaxing, travelling and spending time with his eight grandchildren.
Collision Repair 4#3
Dale Keizer, the owner of CSN Keizer’s, has been busy since the last time the shop was featured in Collision Repair, as he now has four facilities including two collision centers and two mechanical centers. Keizer learned how to fix cars from his father growing up, who owned an auto body shop that was right next door to their house, and now Keizer is proud to say that his sons are now in the business, along with other family members.
“All of my family’s involved, my father looks after our property division and he also runs our auto sales, I’m the director that runs all of the stores, my oldest son runs our mechanical centers, my youngest son runs our Halifax collision center and my mother is in our accounting division,” says Keizer, who believes that the key to their success is a healthy work environment, one they have been cultivating for years after admittedly realizing something needed to change.
“We broke the company up so people are working in teams, we all work together, and we have a very good culture,” he says. “So, we are very proud of being able to take it from that flat-rate world where we had terrible culture and really poor attitudes in our store, and now we’ve become a very strong, positive company.”
Collision Repair 4#4
When Terry Bradimore of CK Collision was featured on the Collision Repair cover in 2005, he was in full-blown consolidation. His hard work clearly paid off—currently CK Collision operates three shops in the Greater Toronto Area and in Orillia, Ontario. Over the years Bradimore has achievements to be proud of; but he is especially fond of his memories of opening the Bowmanville facility. With the help of his former business partner Gary Webster, they brought the location to life and were able to present it to the industry in a different way than any regular “grand opening.”
“We brought in a creative director to help us make the opening memorable,” he shares. “We had paint cans hanging from the ceiling with velvet cloth hanging down as if paint was pouring out of them. We called up some guys who had different cars that you wouldn’t normally see on the roads and had those throughout the shop. It was a really proud moment for both of us because we did it from scratch.”
Sadly, Bradimore’s former business partner, Gary Webster, died in March 2021. Terry sends his condolences to Gary’s wife, Sheena, and the rest of his family.
Collision Repair 4#6
CSN ZENETEC COLLISION
From day one, Martin Monteith, owner of CSN Zenetec Collision has had a passion for cars. Right out of high school at the age of 16 in Northern Ireland, Monteith entered a four-year apprenticeship at a bodyshop just a few miles from his family’s farm.
Fast-forward to 1989 when Monteith made the move to Canada and began working in a dealership bodyshop. After three years, Monteith made the jump to independence and opened what is now CSN Zenetec Collision.
One of his proudest moments, says Monteith, is when his company celebrated the grand opening of its second Barrie, Ontario, location. The 3,065 sq. m. facility features state-of-theart equipment equipped to achieve OEM-compliant repairs, plus a high-tech “green” car wash that utilize low-energy and using reclaimed water.
“It was a project that took about three years to complete with getting the contractors and getting the city officials and approvals,” Monteith explains.
Over the years Monteith has taken a step back from full-blown auto body work and now does mainly administration while his son William has taken on the role of general manager. Currently, CSN Zenetec Collision touts 15 OEM certifications— and has plans to add more.