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WHERE WE’VE BEEN

Collision Repair’s Greatest Hits

By Allison Rogers

1867

Presenting, the Automobile

In 1867, Henry Seth Taylor, a watchmaker and jeweler, built the first automobile in Canada. The steam-powered buggy was regarded as a novelty by many and was unveiled at a fair that year. Unfortunately, the buggy was crashed into a creek later that day, which Taylor attempted to fix, technically making him, the first collision repairer in Canada. 

1904

One Ford All

The next important Henry, Henry Ford— unfortunately American—kicked off the automotive industry in Canada. In the next ten years, there were more than 50,000 cars on the road, making Canada the second-largest vehicle producer in the world, and calling for a whole lot of collision repairers. People quickly turned to careers as auto mechanics and repairers to supply the need.

1930s

A Different Kind of Crash 

As the economy crashed with the Great Depression, so did vehicle sales. Fewer people purchased cars, therefore, the need for repairs also dipped. However, with a big boom in the economy a few years later, the collision repair industry really gets rollin’. 

1950s

Independence Now 

Come the ’50s, auto mechanics and collision repair were considered two different industries, all thanks to the CEO of General Motors, Alfred P. Sloan. 

A new wave of consumerism left Canadians not only caring about the ability of vehicles but the aesthetic. The desire to have the latest, newest, and least-dented car was in (next to sock hops and do-wops) and the real collision repair industry was born, forever making auto mechanics and auto repair two separate entities. 

1953

Sunrise on Sundown 

One of the longest-standing collision repair shops in Canada today opened in Sundown, Manitoba. 

Gateway Autobody Ltd. began when Ted Kostynyk fell in love with restoring his first car, a used 1929 Pontiac and decided there weren’t enough auto body shops in Canada. His wife Anne taught him how to apply paint, and ever since, the company has been owned and operated by the Kostynyk family, now on their third generation of owners. 

Kelly Kostnyk, the third generation president of Gateway Autobody. 

Ted and Anne Kostnyk, the founders of Gateway Autobody. 

1975

Grand Opening! 

Maaco Canada opens its first shop. 

1976

Buckle Up! 

On the first of January, the Canadian government passed a law stating all vehicles must be made with a seatbelt, and all passengers must wear one. This was big not just for people riding in the cars, but for Canadians who had to learn to repair them. And while the use of seatbelts spiked, so did gas prices—prompting the dream of rechargeable, non-gas-guzzling cars. 

1977

Grand Opening! 

Craftsman Collision opens its first facility. 

1990

Grand Opening! 

Assured Automotive is founded. 

Grand Opening! 

The Boyd Group officially opens its first collision centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. 

1992

Grand Opening! 

Fix Auto Canada is officially founded. 

1994

Grand Opening! 

CARSTAR Canada officially begins franchising in Canada under Sam Mercanti’s leadership. 

1998

EV Go Home 

They’re here. Nissan produces 200 electric vehicles. Although few were driven in Canada, it did catch some Canadian OEM’s eyes, resulting in a huge boom of electric vehicles much later on. Collision repairers prepare themselves for repairing a whole new type of vehicle, while auto recyclers struggle to determine what to do with that battery. 

2001

Collision Repair Magazine 

Media Matters Inc., established in 2001, continues to be the leading provider of news and information to the Canadian collision repair industry. 

Grand Opening! 

CARSTAR Canada officially begins franchising in Canada under Sam Mercanti’s leadership. 

2002

Grand Opening! 

CSN Collision Centres is founded. 

2009

What the VOC? 

Alongside growing climate crisis concerns and the number of ‘smog days’ in urban centres, the Canadian government deems it necessary for autobody shops doing repair and repaint for light vehicles to purchase low-VOC products. Environment Canada estimates that more than five kilotonnes of VOCs are emitted each year from coatings and surface cleaners used in auto refinishing operations. The proposed regulations would cut these annual VOC emissions by about 40 percent. 

2013

Grand Opening! 

Consolidated Collision Services is founded. 

2017

Grand Opening! 

Simplicity Car Care opens. 

2020

The End of the World as We Know it 

The coronavirus pandemic takes its hold on the globe, prompting worldwide lockdowns. Canada sees months-long restrictions and a significant decrease in repair volumes. Many collision repair centres take this time to improve operations to perform renovations, while insurance adjusters adjust to a work-from-home model. 

2021

Beneath the Mask 

Alongside COVID-19 vaccination rollouts, Canadian lockdown restrictions begin to ease. Survey data on road trip plans for the summer of 2021 are released, suggesting more than 60 percent of Canadians plan to take a roadie this summer. 

The future appears brighter than ever for Canada’s collision repair community. We’ve weathered the last 150 years of automobiles —let’s do another!

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