By Jeff Sanford
Cochrane, Alberta -- December 4, 2015 -- It seems the economic news coming out of Alberta these days is negative. The price of oil has plunged. The province is suffering the effects. Unemployment is rising.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. At least one business is actually expanding. Cochrane Collision is owned and operated by Kevin Brown and Greg Archibald. Located in the community of Cochrane, the history of the facility goes back 25 years. The duo bought the shop about six years ago and have focused their efforts on making sure that Cochrane Collision is ready for the future.
“We’ve serviced the town since 1985, and for the past few years we’ve been thinking ahead,” said Brown in an interview with Collision Repair magazine. “We've been busy. We've doubled the size of the shop recently. We’re now big enough to handle anything that comes our way.”
Brown and Archibald have numerous improvements to both the building itself and the equipment inside of it. The facility was originally located in a vacant industrial area. The building itself hasn’t moved, but the town of Cochrane has grown enough so that Cochrane Collision is in an area that sees significant traffic.
“Right behind us there was 45 acres of dirty old buildings that were falling down and some vacant land,” said Brown. “But a couple of years ago they started to fix it up and clean up the land.”
Today, Cochrane Collision finds itself in the center of a smart, clean and new big box retail location. The town never really had a downtown before. Now Cochrane Collision is in the centre of one.
“We've got a Canadian Tire right next door. We're right in the heart of the new downtown,” said Brown. This can be a significant advantage for a collision repair facility. Collision centres are often relegated to back streets and out of the way industrial parks. A downtown location is a rare opportunity, and the owners of Cochrane Collision have made good use of it.
Over the last two years, a new addition that doubles the size of the shop has been added. The outside of the shop has been redone and modernized, in part to help it fit in with local buildings. Inside, there is lots of new equipment including aluminum facilities, a new Pro Spot welder and rivet guns.
“We were a small shop, but we had the goals of looking to the future and becoming state-of-the-art,” says Brown. “It’s a continuous process that never stops, but I would say that we’re well on our way.”
In terms of business, “we get a bit of everything,” says Brown. In the past most of the residents left the town during the day to commute to jobs elsewhere. But with the growth the community has experienced in recent years has come a spurt in local business. People stay in the town during the day and that means they're getting a lot more small collisions than they used to. It gives the owners of Cochrane Collision two perspectives: that of the urban collision facility, and that of the rural autobody repair centre.
“Now that there is so much local retail, we get a lot more fender benders than we used to,” says Brown. “There are a couple thousand more people a day shopping here, so those small accidents are more common. But this is Alberta. We still get a lot of deer hits and animal collisions.”
In addition to new equipment to handle aluminum, the shop has also recently installed a Global Finishing Solutions Ultra XP1 Premium Dual-Skin paint booth.
Residents appreciate that the shop is locally owned. The business is a member of the Chamber of Commerce. There are Direct Repair Program deals signed with a variety of insurance companies. Brown has 22 years experience in the industry. Archibald has 26 years of experience. Together, the entire team can boast of 150 years experience in collision repair, and they’re ready for whatever the local community can throw at them.
“We’re ready to handle volume, and we’re ready for slow times too,” says Brown. “That’s part of what being a progressive collision repair facility means: looking at your production and planning accordingly.”
For more information, please visit cochranecollision.com.