By Mike Davey
Toronto, Ontario — December 30, 2015 — It’s been quite a year in the collision repair industry. Collision Repair magazine brought you hundreds of stories in 2015, but a few stand out. We’ve made the final tallies, and now we’re counting down the Top 15 stories of 2015 based on readership.
Watch next week for our recap of the trends and events that shaped the business in 2015.
Media Matters, publisher of Collision Repair magazine, collisionrepairmag.com and other titles, announced in August that it had acquired Bodyshop magazine, Canada’s longest-running collision repair title. This was big news for the company, and judging by the number of hits this story received, it was big news for the industry as well.
Interest ran high in the new General Motors parts initiative,mypricelink.com, a program intended to provide OE parts at prices that match those of the aftermarket. The project represents a concerted effort on the part of GM to take back market share from aftermarket parts makers.
The program was launched in the US first. Robert Wheeler, a spokesman for GM, told Collision Repair magazine at the time that “no decision” has been made yet about whether this program would be launched in Canada as well.
Michael and Carolyn Carcone, owners of Carcone’s Auto Recycling in Aurora, won big in October at the Automotive Recyclers Assocation (ARA) Annual Convention & Exposition, taking home two prestigious awards. They were presented with the prestigious Certified Auto Recycler of the Year award at the ARA Gala, and also received the inaugural Randy Reitman Memorial Traveling CAR Award.
Known for it’s commitment to customer satisfaction, passion for excellence and just plain fun for the whole family, Disney World in Orlando was the perfect venue for CARSTAR to celebrate its 20th anniversary in August of 2015.
“With change comes great opportunity,” said Michael Macaluso, President of CARSTAR, in the opening address of the conference, referring to the present industry trends of consolidation, shrinking volumes and OEM influences. “But we are prepared to meet the challenges not just of the next few years, but for twenty years and beyond. Momentum is more than just growth. Momentum is about progress, innovation, excellence, speed; and most importantly momentum is all about people.”
The 13th annual CSN Collision Centres Conference was held September 24 to 26 in Montreal, Quebec. The event was titled Geared for Success.
“We were extremely satisfied with the overall conference experience for our CSN collison centres, our insurance partners and our strategic suppliers,” said Flavio Battilana, COO of CSN Collision Centres. “We had over 300 attendees from across Canada, from St. Johns, Newfoundland to Duncan, BC and all points in between. The vibe and atmosphere over the past few days was exactly why we hold our annual conference; to re-energize, re-engage and relax as we gear up as the winter season fast approaches.“
In August, automotive recycler Maritime Auto Parts announced it would expand to a new location following the acquisition of Wayne Giles Auto Salvage. The head of Maritime Auto Parts, Andrew MacDonald, said at the time that the new location would operate as a second retail facility and a “u-pull” operation. It’s now open for business, and is the first pick-your-part operation in the Halifax region.
The Canadian Collision Industry Forum (CCIF) drew a lot of interest in 2015, snagging two spots on the list. The meeting in Calgary shattered previous attendance records for meetings held in that city, with over 250 industry stakeholders from various segments of the auto claims economy. The meeting took place at Hotel Arts on September 18, 2015.
CCIF Chairman Larry Jefferies delivered the opening remarks, reflecting that the meeting marked the end of a very successful second year with AIA Canada managing CCIF. He shared that in the last two years, the organization has had 2005 attendees, over 1300 “unique visitors,” and undertaken four industry projects that are creating positive change in the industry through collaboration between industry stakeholders.
In addition to numerous other presentations, one highlight was the panel discussion on women in the collision repair industry, moderated by Leanne Jefferies. She opened the discussion by presenting the business case that gender balanced teams perform better in every aspect – innovation, leadership, and financial results.
Coming in at number 8 was our preview of the upcoming CCIF meeting for the Toronto area. The big news here was that the meeting has a new format, and could turn out to be the largest collision repair industry meeting in the history of the country. This is not overstating the size of the event. This really could be the biggest event ever in the collision repair industry in Canada.
Leanne Jefferies is the Director of Collision Programs for the Automotive Industries Association of Canada (AIA). In a conversation with Collision Repair magazine, she expressed her mounting excitement about the coming meeting.
“I’m so excited about this,” said Jefferies, noting that Canadian manufacturers will be on site showing off the latest and greatest products and technology. “We’ll see the latest advances in car manufacturing and construction, whether it be aluminum or safety features. We’ll have the latest technology for fixing vehicles, whether it’s body frame measurement, power tools, refinishing tools or software. We’ll have it all. This is an opportunity to see what is cutting edge in cars and technology. Not everyone gets to attend these big shows in the US. So this is a way to bring it to an event in Canada. Some people might not be aware of what the cutting edge is in technology and tools out there. This is a chance to get up to speed on that.”
The CCIF Cars & Technology Showcase will take place at Universal Event Space in Vaughan, Ontario, on January 29, 2016. Please visit ccif.ca for more information and to register.
One of our most read stories of 2015 was also one of the most inspiring. Discount Car & Truck Rentals held its annual charity golf tournament on Friday, August 7 to raise funds for the Chase McEachern Tribute Fund, which campaigns to place Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) in schools, hockey arenas, and other public places. To date, the Fund has placed over 12,000 AEDs in schools and other community venues across the country.
In August, we reported that Allstate’s revenues were up in the second quarter of the year, with an increase in accidents leading to an increase of premiums, according to Allstate CEO Thomas Wilson.
“The increase in auto accidents is broad-based by state, risk class, rating plans and the maturity of the business, and consequently appears to be driven by external factors,” said Wilson. “While recent growth in Allstate brand auto policies in force did increase in frequency, since new business typically has higher relative frequency, this was not the primary driver of a higher combined ratio. We have responded aggressively to improve profitability with rate increases, tighter underwriting standards and expense reductions.”
Consolidation has long been a major force in the Canadian collision repair industry, but Rex Green of BB&T Capital Markets outlined how it’s impacting the business in the US and how it may affect the business around the world.
“Since the consolidators have a little more than 10 percent of the market today, my prediction might seem aggressive,” said Green. “However, the market forces driving consolidation in the US are simply unstoppable. Consolidation of this magnitude may not take hold around the rest of the world, but if it doesn’t, it will be because of regulatory, legal or cultural constraints that defy economics.”
The industry forces behind the move towards consolidation were, in Green’s words, “relentless.”
Our coverage of the sixth installment of Brimell Toyota’s SuperTuner event attracted a lot of interest in June. The event featured trophies and cash prizes, a custom car show n’ shine, a pitstop challenge, food vendors, two live DJs and a bouncy castle for the children.
“It was a fantastic event. Every year it keeps growing. We had maybe 100 registrants last year. This year there were 162. We were surprised,” said Stephanie Seto, Marketing and Communications Manager for The Brimell Group.
The Waterloo Wellington Collision Association (WWCA) 26th annual golf tournament kicked off the golf tournament season in June. The event regularly brings together industry stakeholders including repairers, insurers, suppliers and others. This year’s event raised funds for the Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph chapter of the Family and Children Services Foundation.
The addition of the Boyd Group Income Fund to the S&P/TSX Composite Index was one of the most widely read stories in 2015. The fact the company is being added is conformation that Boyd is becoming a major name on the TSX.
The index represents a group of the largest companies traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Companies are chosen to be in the index if they are considered to represent a cross-section of the broader Canadian economy. While this doesn’t change anything at Boyd, it does indicate that the company, and the collision repair industry as a whole, is a force to be reckoned with.
This was undoubtedly the biggest story of the year. Major auto franchise company, Driven Brands, announced it would acquire CARSTAR Canada in a deal that was hailed as a major success by both parties. Exclusive interviews with Jose R. Costa of Driven Brands and Mike Macaluso of CARSTAR and timely coverage of the announcement helped cement the number one position for this article.
CARSTAR Canada joined its sister company in the Driven Brands portfolio, as Driven Brands had purchased CARSTAR US in late October. CARSTAR Canada now has a major and deep-pocketed owner that can finance the growth and development of the chain.
It’s been an interesting look back at the most widely read stories of 2015. Watch for our recap of the major trends in 2015 early next week!