By Jeff Sanford
Fergus, Ontario -- July 5, 2016 -- CSN-Hutten Collision Centre in Fergus, Ontario recently hosted a group of students from a local high school to tour through their brand new collision repair facility.
The kids came from Emmanuel Christian High School, which is near the new shop that opened earlier this spring.
“We had a request to do a presentation to grade 10 students in a 'college and careers' class,” said Joanne Hutten in an interview with Collision Repair magazine. Joanne and her husband John operate CSN-Hutten. It was John's idea to do the presentation. “He was preparing for the presentation. He thought, 'The school is only five minutes away. Why don't we just bring them here?',” said Joanne. So they did.
The students stopped by to tour a sparkling new facility. Collision Repair magazine previously reported on the sod-turning ceremony performed on the site of what is now a new 10,700 sq.ft. building.
The new centre is on two acres of land in Fergus’s industrial park. The new building was completed in the spring of 2016.
“I think that was a lot more informative for the students. It was live,” said Joanne. “We took them all way though the process. We explained what we do. We talked about the education you need. We spent a good hour with them.”
At the end of the presentation the kids had all kinds of questions: What kind of cars do you fix? Do you always paint the whole thing? The Huttens hope the interest will translate into a genuine attempt by some of the students to take up a career in collision repair. It's no secret that the collision repair industry has a shortage of qualified technicians. Events like this are important to pique the interest of young people.
“That's another reason we really wanted to do it. We really need to educate the kids about this industry,” said Joanne. “It's important we educate the next generation and make sure that they know this is not the dusty, dirty job that it once was.”
The new facility is a perfect example of the new sophistication in the industry.
“Our brand new shop is clean and bright,” said Joanne. “It's a very clean shop. We have a vacuum system for the sanders. It's a dream to work in. There's a lot more room.” In an interview last year, John talked about the importance of having a new and clean shop—it's one way to attract skilled staff. “We’re really gearing towards being an employer of choice. We’re going to give our techs a nice facility and a clean environment to work in,” said John at the time.
The Huttens also talked to the students about the apprenticeship program available to those interested a career in the industry. Joanne appreciates that the school runs a 'colleges and career' course. “They do that course in grade 10 so when they go into grade 11 or grade 12 they can start thinking about what they want to do,” said Joanne. It's a smart idea that gets kids thinking ahead. Hopefully some of the kids will take up the opportunity.
As for business at the new facility, that's going well. The new building replaces a smaller building on a main street in Fergus that didn't have enough parking and was not designed for collision repair. But it was on a main street, and so there was a lot traffic was going by. The new shop is an industrial area, which means there's not so much traffic. As a result the Huttens were careful to publicize the move.
“We were on a main road here for 17 years. We wondered how this move would go. We informed people of the move. We really made sure through the whole process to create some excitement about it. We did a lot of advertising,” Joanne says. The effort has paid off. “It seems like for ever since we moved here there's been more traffic. We're getting people driving up all the time,” she says.
For more information on CSN-Hutten Collision Centre, please visit huttenauto.com.