Toronto, Ontario -- August 28, 2018 -- After more than half-a-century in the repair game, Larry Luxton of Guelph, Ontario has decided to call it a day.
Luxton first got involved in the automotive business 54 years ago, we he began washing cars as a 16-year-old in Brampton, Ontario. It wasn’t long before Luxton moved to Toronto for an internship. Luxton would split time between jobs, working in Dundalk on the weekends. It was in Dundalk, Ontario where Luxton and his cousin co-owned a shop.
In 1971 Luxton left Toronto to move to Dundalk to work at his business full-time. Seven years later he sold the business and began the next chapter of his career as a body shop manager. Luxton would go on to spend time at several dealerships across Ontario including Shelburne, Alliston, Kitchener, Cambridge and Guelph before entering semi-retirement in 2010.
For the past eight years, Luxton has worked in a small role at Speedy Collision Guelph. The owner, Joe Logel, had worked for Luxton and been mentored by him early in his career.
This week, Luxton agreed to share his thoughts on the future of the collision repair industry, and his advice for those considering entering it.
Collision Repair: What advice would you give people entering the industry?
Larry Luxton: I'd tell them it is a good trade -- and its going to be a good trade, because there is going to be a labour shortage. I'd also tell them its been good to me over the years.
Collision Repair: What do you think the biggest challenge facing collision repairers is.
Larry Luxton: The new technology -- it always is the new technology. I remember back in the 80s when they brought in the unibody. It was a big challenge for us to adapt to the change at the time. But we worked through it. Everybody had to buy a new MIG welder. Now, the technology is still a challenge.
There's more and more of it going into the cars. Every time you turn around, something new is coming in. But, the young people today are so into technology. They were raised with it, and it should be easier for them to embrace the changes than us old guys.
Collision Repair: Do you think autonomous cars are going to become mainstream?
Larry Luxton: I don't know about the autonomous cars. People talk a lot about them, but I think it will be a long time before most people get into them. People still get nervous on self-driving trains.
Collision Repair: What makes this trade so special?
Larry Luxton: It is an art, just like carpentry. Just like when they're restoring a broken cabinet, there is something artistic about fixing a smashed quarter panel.
Collision Repair: What will you miss most about it?
Larry Luxton: The people. I've worked for a lot of good ones, and dealt with so many nice customers. Sure, some of them are not-so-nice, but they are just easier to remember. There are always far more good people.