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SEEING DOUBLE

There’s a new Pfaff Autoworks in town

Story by ALLISON ROGERS

What’s nearly 4,500 sq. m., smells brand-new and sparkles all over? The new Pfaff Autoworks location in Markham, Ontario, of course. The company now touts two collision repair facilities—the other in Vaughan, Ontario—in addition to a portfolio of dealerships across the southern tip of the province.

The new facility is located just down the road from the Markville Mall and a stone’s throw from Pfaff’s Porsche and BMW Mini dealerships. It’s a project that was nearly five years in the making—and the efforts put into its design are apparent.

Jeff Pabst, Pfaff’s general manager of Canadian collision operations and Dan Silvestri, GM of Pfaff Autoworks Markham, helped design the building, which served as a lighting manufacturing facility in the 1970s. Faced with an expansive space, the options were endless.

“It was pretty run down,” said Pabst. “There were loading docks in the front, which flooded in the spring. The first time I came here they had skids set up like a little bridge.” The team chose to stick with an open-concept design, always allowing production floor staff access to the sparkling shop floor. The original design plans were approved Jeff Pabst, GM of Canadian collision operations for Pfaff, and Dan Silvestri, general manager of Pfaff Autoworks Markham.more than four years ago, though, thanks to the pandemic and other delays, construction didn’t begin until the summer of 2021.

The building also features a drive-thru estimation station, several commercial-size paint booths and, eventually, will also offer mechanical service. “We’re geared up for [mechanical] and we do our scanning in house right now. We’ll get there—we do a ton of mechanical work at our Vaughan location.” It’s no secret that skilled staff are hard to find; but Pfaff Markham has had some of its team members signed to the new facility for more than two years.

The team opted for an open-concept design. The only additional element awaiting installation is a hip-high wall, “for safety,” said Pabst.
The nearly 4,500 sq.-m. facility (47,500 sq. ft.) has a spacious learning centre with ample natural light, located upstairs, just across from a boardroom overlooking the production floor
The facility—which was originally built as a lighting manufacturer— opened as Pfaff Autoworks Markham in March 2021.

“Well, we actually hired [Silvestri] for the job almost four years ago,” said Pabst. “The anticipation was that we’d be open within a year, maybe a year and a half. Then COVID happened, and here we are—about threeand- a-quarter years later.”

Some employees at Pfaff Autoworks Vaughan have been serving under Pabst for more than ten years. In Markham, the same plans to foster staff success are already in place, with one technician heading to Atlanta for training and many more educational efforts—and OEM certifications—to come. “Our shop foreman in Vaughan, Rob Gargaro has been an amazing mentor for our apprentices. If a technician reached their level three and had a good amount of hours, they would spend a year or two shadowing Rob at the end of their apprenticeship. That’s when they’d get to aluminum structural bonding, riveting and big hits.

“We have three or four people that have gone through that program and are now doing their own thing, making their own flat rate hours and doing big jobs.” With Gargaro a shop staple at Pfaff Autoworks Vaughan, Pabst and Silvestri are hoping to pick up another Rob-type-teacher to lead the young talent at its Markham location.

Another training effort has been learning the ropes of BASF’s Glasurit 100 line. “[Refinishing] was a bit of a learning curve, especially for our painter, who has experience in BASF—but the 90 line,” said Pabst. “Our prepper, Alexandra, came from our Vaughan store. She had some experience with the product, so that helped with support as well.” While the team is still getting the final pieces of equipment into place—a 5S reorganization strategy is scheduled for the coming weeks—business has been going well for the new Pfaff centre. A steady flow of work has kept the team busy in its first five weeks of operation.

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