By Mike Pickford
Peterborough, Ontario – July 21, 2016 -- CSN-Chapman Auto Body is set to expand later this year after owner Kelvin Campbell revealed he would be opening a second shop in the Halifax area.
Anticipating an Oct. 1 grand opening, the new shop will be situated in Bedford, Nova Scotia, a short eight-kilometre drive from Campbell’s original location in downtown Halifax. Aptly named CSN-Chapman West Bedford, the shop will boast roughly 18,000 square feet of production space and 4,000 square feet of administrative space, allowing Campbell the room to truly grow his business.
“This is an exciting period, not only for myself as owner, but for everyone involved with CSN-Chapman Auto Body,” Campbell told Collision Repair magazine. “By opening this second location I’m expecting we will be able to practically eliminate wait times and drastically improve our cycle times.”
He added, “Long story short, we’re hoping this will make our service a lot better and lot quicker, while also giving us the opportunity to grow and increase our volume of work.”
CSN-Chapman Auto Body is a prime example of that. Prior to moving to its current downtown location in 2002, the shop was churning out roughly $1.2 million per year in revenue. As of 2016, that number is expected to exceed $4.2 million – a 250 per cent increase.
“We’ve pretty much hit the ceiling over the past couple of years regarding our volume of work and turnover,” Campbell said. “We’re at the point where this opening was a necessity. We needed to expand to meet the demand of our customers.”
CSN-Chapman Auto Body also holds the distinction of being the first qualified aluminum repair facility in Atlantic Canada, while also boasting BMW, Mini and Porsche collision certifications.
With roughly 8,000 sq. ft. of production space at its Halifax location and an anticipated 18,000 sq. ft. of shop floor at the Bedford site, Campbell says he’s looking to unveil a brand new business model based off of several successful US body shops.
“I’m looking at these two locations very much working hand in hand with each other – I’ve spent a lot of time touring several body shops down in the States over the past year and there was one (business) in Washington, DC, that really stood out to me,” Campbell said. “This particular owner had several small fast lane shops scattered around the greater downtown area and then one heavy hit centre that dealt with large projects expected to take anything more than 20 hours or so to complete. That’s the type of business model I’m looking at. I feel that will drastically, drastically improve our cycle time,” he added.
Campbell envisages the older location serving as the fast lane centre, with the new shop out in Bedford to take on the larger projects. The biggest challenge for Campbell now is going to be for him to figure out how he’s going to staff both locations, with 18 workers currently under his employ.
“If there’s one problem we’ve run into consistently over the years, it’s a shortage of skilled labour,” Campbell said. “I’ve spent the best part of a year advertising all across Canada with very little response. It’s a tough market.”
His solution? Hiring from overseas.
“I’ve got several technicians either already here or expected to arrive from various areas across Europe. There are a couple of guys I’m waiting on from Greece – they’ll be coming in in October. I have somebody from the UK here already and another set to arrive before the end of the year. Then there’s a kid coming in from Poland – he did paint work for a certified Mercedes shop over there, so we’re excited to bring him on board,” Campbell said.
“Overall, we’re going to be gaining a lot of workers with a lot of experience in high end work over the next few months. It’s all looking good for us with the new shop slated for an Oct. 1 opening.”
While CSN-Chapman West Bedford won’t immediately be recognized as a certified BMW, Mini and Porsche repair shop, they will hold a CSN Collision Centres distinction. The shop will also be conjoined with a rental car business; something Campbell believes will go even further to bettering the service he’s able to provide to his customers.
Looking forward, Campbell says this new venture is going to be something that will greatly benefit both his business and his customers.
“I’m really hoping to have it all when we open our new shop. Our staff will have the skills and experience to handle most situations and we’ll have the space to be able to work at a much quicker pace volume-wise than we ever have before,” Campbell said. “Things are looking good for the future.”
For more information on CSN-Chapman Auto Body, please visit chapmanautobody.com.