For the last 20 years we’ve covered a lot of ground together
Time sure flies when you’re having fun. It seems like just yesterday when Remy Rousseau and I were pondering cover ideas for the first edition. Lorenzo D’Allessandro was the inaugural cover story. It was a great call, as we enter the 20th year of publishing; he exemplified and still does, the mission of Collision Repair magazine – To champion and celebrate the successes of Canada’s collision repair industry. In those days, change was happening at what we thought was breakneck speed. The industry was in transition, pivoting from bodyshops that primarily focused on getting work out the door to high-tech and highly trained repair facilities. Insurer relations were different — appraisers and adjusters were key linchpins in the process. Now we’re looking at artificial intelligent (AI) estimating with automatic parts ordered at point of impact. In addition most of the tasks done by the insurers in the “old days”, are now done at the shop level with computer software.
Bit by bit, over the past two decades we documented and reported as the industry image transformed for the better. In fact, we may have even played a role in improving the public image. From 2000 to today, the number of shops in the country was halved. Although shop numbers shrank, productivity and repair volumes increased across the country.
Along with improved efficiencies, we saw the development of insurers as partners, sharing administrative paperwork ultimately handled at the shop level. To think, at one point, shops never relied on a computer — their sole role was fixing a car based on an appraiser’s estimate.
Today, more than 75 percent of the dollar volume of repairs is conducted by some sort of network, be it a franchise, buying group or multi-shop-owner. However, the more things change, the more they stay the same. The new trend is certification and pretty much we are right back at the starting line of the insurer Direct Repair Programs (DRP) of 20 years ago. With the behemoth players involved and the risk of high price liability to avoid litigation, shops are scrambling to get ‘approved’. But as we saw in the United States with one OEM who reached capacity, there are no guarantees out there. So around and around we go.
For the past two decades we purposely chose our editorial direction to focus on the people of the industry. This is the backbone regardless of the processes, or lack thereof. No matter how this industry changes and progresses, it will always be the people who make the difference. There’s not enough room to mention the names here, but we are here now due to the foresight and vision of industry leaders such as Sam Mercanti, Des D’Silva, Steve Leal, Tony Canade, Michael Macaluso, Ken Freisen, Julio Bruno, Jay Perry, Roland Taube, Tom Bissonnette, Nick DiLuca, Lorenzo D’Allessandro and who could forget Sam Piercey, whose prose published in our magazine still rings as relevant today as it did when he first wrote it.
But this is not a trip down Memory Lane, at least not yet. Our 20th Anniversary Edition is coming up soon and we want everyone to take part. After all, our story is your story and who can tell it better than those who lived through it carving out the destiny with toil, sweat and a lot of swear words.
Our editors and writers are on hand ready to hear from you and receive your pictures, comments and anecdotes. Think of it as a yearbook, as a record to pass down to the next generation. Never before has anyone put together an account of the industry in this manner. Click “HERE” to contribute to the story.
This is an industry built with pride and well-deserved success. The history of Collision Repair magazine is the recent history of Canada’s collision repair industry. Let’s do it justice and celebrate with style. It’s a great story, let’s tell it together.