By Max Reid
At fourteen-years-old, Bob Heroux painted his mom’s car. From there, he was hooked.
High-quality of work, attentive customer service and dedicated leadership have been the keys to Lazer Autobody’s stellar success. Bob Heroux—dubbed ‘Lazer Bob’ in the local collision repair scene—and his wife Jennifer opened Lazer Autobody in October of 1987.
“When we started out, Bob and I worked super hard,” said Jennifer, co-founder of Lazer Autobody.
“Bob could paint, do bodywork and everything in-between—he was ready for anything.”
Starting the business wasn’t without its challenges, however, as the pair learned to work through the growing pains of establishing their brand in Saskatoon.
“When I opened Lazer Autobody I didn’t really know how to get my name out there,” Bob told Collision Repair. “I started doing some speciality paint jobs on some little fancy cars, some drag cars, street cars. Then I painted my own car with a big mural on the side of, and it was an eye-catcher on the streets of Saskatoon. My name got out there quite quickly—people started saying I was one of the best painters in Saskatoon.”
With some time and a lot of learning, Bob, Jennifer and the Lazer Autobody team became known around Saskatoon. The facility gained a reputation for quality repair work and Bob’s uncanny eye for colour matching paint—a skill that would go on to make him one of the most sought-after refinishers in the city, if not the province.
“I can match any colour,” said Bob. “When we started out, I would never use a microfiche or scale to make a colour—I just mixed it by eye. I did things this way for probably the first five or six years of business, and the paint companies could not believe that I did not use the scale to make paint.”
“Anybody that had something they couldn’t match, the paint companies would get him to be the one that would match them,” noted Jennifer.
Eventually, Bob became so synonymous with the Lazer Autobody brand that many of his customers and colleagues simply refer to him as ‘Lazer Bob’ in conversation—a name that speaks directly to the precision and care he puts into his work.
Lazer Autobody’s quality repair work is one thing, but the impression the shop’s team leaves on customers is what makes all the difference for Lazer Autobody.
“We have high standards for how we want our customers to feel about us and how we want their vehicle to be returned to them. It’s really important to us. For us, it’s just who we are,” said Jennifer.
“When you build good, honest relationships and aren’t hiding anything, business flow becomes a lot easier,” Bob remarked.
In putting forth this genuine effort to support his customers in the same way that their business was supporting him, Bob earned the respect of not only his Saskatoon regulars but of others in the industry as well.
“He could talk to anybody and they’ll always have good things to say about how he dealt with his customers, or how he dealt with his suppliers,” said Jennifer. “Bob always had such a good rapport with SGI as well.”
Among all else, family remains one of the most important things at Lazer Autobody. Bob and Jennifer’s son Braydon, now a business partner, has been instrumental in leading the shop forward through a landscape of ever-changing technology.
“He is leading the way in technology for our shop. He’s our researcher,” said Jennifer.
Integrating family into the business wasn’t a seamless transition either, as the Heroux’s were no strangers to butting heads every now and then.
When Braydon reflects on the first few years he laughs and admits it had its challenges.
“The first three years were difficult, to say the least. You just don’t know what your role is completely, and you always feel like everybody is chomping at the bit to do the same thing. Job descriptions were huge for us, so we knew what to expect from each other.”
Working with family is never perfect, but the Heroux’s say they still wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It is difficult working with family all the time and we do have to work hard and be honest with each other, and sometimes that’s not fun. All in all, as the years are going by here, I think we are becoming more adjusted,” said Jennifer.
Part of the succession plan for the Herouxs included bringing their then head painter into the mix as a partner. Cole Jabusch came in with a lot of experience and energy, said Jennifer, but most of all he was able to contribute a fresh viewpoint when the Heroux family needed it most.
“When you build good, honest relationships and aren’t hiding anything, business flow becomes a lot easier.”
− Bob Heroux
‘We consider Cole to be the calm in our storm, we are very fortunate to have his expertise in our paint and body department as well as transitioning into the inner workings of running a business. He’s methodical in his thinking and so he brings a lot to our shop,” Jennifer remarked.
Lazer Autobody continues to grow to this day as Braydon filled Collision Repair in on the latest developments happening at their 1,115 sq. metre (12,000 sq. feet) facility in central Saskatoon.
“We are in the midst of putting in a new mixer room and prep station in our shop. We are also installing a new car aligner 3D measuring system and a framing machine.”
With SGI’s Safe and Quality Auto Repair project offering a two-tier compensation structure as of April 2020, Lazer is I-CAR Gold Class certified and prepared to crush it in the coming years.
The facility’s reputation stems far beyond the borders of Saskatoon. As a longtime PPG customer, Lazer has helped showcase PPG products through its quality repairs, and the paint supplier is hugely proud of all the facility has accomplished.
“I am personally very excited and proud that Lazer Auto Body has been featured in this issue of Collision Repair magazine,” said Norm Angrove, director of refinish for PPG Canada. “Lazer, has been a flagship PPG customer for many years. Their ongoing commitment to providing world class customer experience and operational excellence is very evident in every aspect of their business. They have been a member of our Western Canada round table group and an active participant in all of our business solution offerings.”
“We have high standards for how we want our customers to feel about us and how we want their vehicle to be returned to them,” – Jennifer Heroux
Following in the steps of his father, Braydon has also began developing an impressive reputation for himself. He sits on the board for the Saskatchewan Drag Racing Association, as well as on the Saskatchewan Association of Automotive Repairers (SAAR) board of directors.
“Braydon is a young up and comer in the collision repair business here in Saskatchewan,” said Tom Bissonnette, director for SAAR. “Our industry needs more young people like Braydon that are fully engaged in developing a world class collision repair business. I really appreciate his open mindedness as he takes an established business to the next level.”
The Herouxs have not gotten lost in their success. The businessowners have made it an active point for the shop to always be giving back to their community.
Whether it be their $102,500 donation to the Nutrien Wonderhub children’s museum in Saskatoon, or their work with supporting the Gordie Howe Sports Complex—an initiative that led to the complex creating the Lazer Autobody Spirit of Sport Award in honour of the shop’s efforts—the importance of community engagement is by no means lost on this family.
“We’re in a position now that we felt that we really would like to be more part of our community and children, of course, are at the heart of most people, they are for us anyway. We have three granddaughters and one more grandchild on the way. So we thought, what better way to help our city out than with a children’s museum.”
To boil down exactly what makes the Heroux family such a fixture in their community isn’t so easy, but perhaps Jennifer put it best:
“You need to tap into your resources, act with goodwill and leave people with a good impression. That’s what will get you far in this business.”