By Jeff Sanford
Calgary, Alberta -- December 8, 2015 -- Another collision repair professional has stepped forward at a key moment to provide goodwill and community support.
Calgary residents recently woke up to the disheartening news that vandals had attacked a local LRT station with racist graffiti. Police are looking for two men they say are responsible for the vandalism that targeted Syrian refugees.
Transit workers arrived at the scene soon after to clean up the attack. But local Calgarian, Brian Durocher, whose van was tagged in the incident, was stuck with a van covered in, among other things, white power symbols. Commuters passing by were said to be outraged. Many were taking photos and shaking heads.
Eventually, Durocher's car ended up a Calgary-area Craftsman Collision centre on Royal Vista Drive in the Royal Oak area of Calgary.
“The insurer brought the car in Friday morning. I remember when I was getting ready for work that morning I saw a report of the attack on the television. I was quite shocked. But I wasn't actually expecting anything from that to come through the door. My first thought was, this is brutal,” said Harj Bharaj, manager of the Craftsman Collision location, in an interview with Collision Repair magazine.
Bharaj took some gunwash and mild solvent cleaner and started to get the graffiti off the truck. “That always leaves some residue. We polished that out and then waxed it. It took ten minutes,” said Bharaj. Once the distasteful graffiti was gone and the work finished, Bharaj felt he couldn't charge the guy.
“I saw it on the television. That's not right what they did. Basically, we just stepped in and do the right thing,” said Bharaj. “No one deserves to be treated like that. It was just the right thing to have to deal with that. I'm not a political kind of person. But if I can help someone, I will. I called up the insurance company, Intact, and said I cannot charge this guy.”
The flexibility to make the right decision is a bonus of working for Craftsman. “I work for Craftsman. I've been with them for five years now. And they're great. They give you the keys to run the store as you see fit. As long as you do what is right, they're with you,” said Bharaj. Did that trust allow Bharaj to make the right gesture? “Exactly,” he says.
According to a local media report Durocher was “shocked” at the gesture to do the work for free. But the gesture helped restore his belief that most Calgary residents are good people. "That's what I'm used to: people helping one another," said Durocher to local media about Bharaj's decision to do the labour for free.
“Craftsman Collision is a customer focused organization. If there is something we can do to make a customer’s experience memorable that is what we do. If we can provide the service gratis or at a greatly reduced cost we will,” said Michael O’Callaghan, General Manager of Operations. “Our shop managers are all empowered to make autonomous decisions, such as in the case of Brian Durocher's vehicle being vandalized with graffiti. The actions of Manager Harj Bharaj at our Calgary NW location is a great example of leading by example and showing that Craftsman truly cares about each and every customer.”
Can you put a price on restoring community trust? Probably not. Calgary police say they have good camera images of the assailants and hope to make an arrest. Anyone with information is asked to contact Calgary Plice Service at 403-266-1234 or anonymously to 1-800-222-8477.