The Dedicated Painter: 37 years and nearly 40,000 cars later

By Sophie Price

Passion will get you far in this trade. If you’re skeptical, Vince Figliomeni can prove it.

Vince has been a painter at Ken Shaw Lexus Toyota Collision for 37 years. In that time, the dedicated painter has returned approximately 38,480 vehicles to their pre-accident glory.

Vince first joined the automotive industry in his home country of Italy, where he got his start at working alongside his cousin in a local bodyshop. After arriving in Canada, armed with limited English and an outpouring of passion for the trade, Vince’s wife assisted in his job search, which ended at Ken Shaw Lexus Toyota.

He began as a prepper in 1983, and after roughly a year his manager suggested he make the leap to painter.

“I was so nervous to start because I knew it was a dealership and I had never worked in that large of a setting,” said Vince. “It was a big place, but I took a chance,” he said.

Vince says that at first, he was “more scared than enthusiastic,” but his confidence grew as his colleagues applauded his work and his managers took note of his skill.

“Guys would actually look into my job and they were kind of impressed and would say ‘oh my god his paint job is pretty good,’” laughed Vince. “It was a real motivator.”

As the facility’s only painter, Vince saw his skill grow alongside experience, but Ken Shaw Lexus Toyota has also supported him for training over the years to further improve his skills.

To this day, Vince is still the main painter at Ken Shaw Lexus Toyota Collision with only one other person assisting him on the odd occasion.

Vince is an advocate for the trade and says painting cars isn’t as simple as it sounds.

“Spraying cars is the easy part. Then you have to have knowledge of the preparation and how to make sure it is done properly; you have to know some bodywork, and there’s a ton of work involved tinting colours. Sometimes colours aren’t always matching properly so you always have to double and triple-check to make sure you put the right colour on the car.”

After staying at Ken Shaw for 37 years, Vince can’t imagine himself working anywhere else.

“They treat people well,” he says. “Not just me but the rest of the employees here. I know they’ll always make sure I have the right equipment, and we have everything we need.”

Vince’s commitment to his work is very clear, he takes pride in what he does and works hard to please his employers.

“I am prouder of what I do when there’s appreciation, and I am sure it goes both ways. Them seeing that I do well for them and me being happy with the way they treat me—it’s what motivates me.”

Vince is also one of the longest-standing employees at Ken Shaw Lexus Toyota Collision. Danny Jamal, general manager at Ken Shaw says the other employees call him “Papa Vince” and turn to him for any advice in the bodyshop, or elsewhere.

“He has been around longer than all of us, he’s smarter than all of us and he has more wisdom than all of us. So, we all come to him for help and advice” says Jamal.

Vince says that the most important thing to him is admitting when you are wrong or when you make a mistake and trying to learn from it. He makes it very clear that every day is still a challenge, from the new colours constantly being released to learning how to properly spray those colours can take time and effort. Still, he takes each problem as a challenge and says the constantly changing environment helps to challenge and motivate him.

When asked about his proudest moment Vince says he feels proudest when his superiors are with happy with his job.

“When they tell me ‘good job Vince’. I feel great about that.”

Not only has Vince painted roughly 38,480 cars in his career but he has a receipt for every single car he has ever painted at Ken Shaw Lexus Toyota.

Jamal speaks very highly of Vince.

“He’s a great guy. He always comes to work happy and productive and ready to work. He is very professional with the other employees, management and owners.”

The general manager says it’s rare for the facility to see a vehicle come back with a paint issue. In his own 11 years at the company, he can’t remember the last time a vehicle came back with a paint problem.

“His work is as quality as the day it comes out of the factory. He is flawless, like perfection,” adds Jamal. “We wish we could genetically clone him.”

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