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Wrap Up: SAAR’s Spring Conference in under three minutes

Regina, Saskatchewan — In case you missed it, Collision Repair attended the Saskatchewan Association of Automotive Repairers (SAAR) Spring Conference last weekend, where our reporters—along with help from SAAR’s Aspen Films videographers—captured all the action.

Held downtown Moose Jaw at the Temple Gardens Hotel and Spa, attendees were blessed with relatively warm weather⁠ for Saskatchewan in February—up to 4C, in fact!

The festivities kicked off on Friday afternoon with a PDR presentation delivered by SGI’s Braden McKay and Troy Kolish. The pair discussed the incoming changes to paintless dent repair claims via the PDR Matrix. They covered the application process details for collision centres, as well as “pain points” noted by the industry in current processes, such as payment delays, SGI estimate inaccuracies, rejections due to ambiguous vehicle definitions and more. The collision centre and PDR reps in the room were given ample time to provide feedback to the SGI crew.

The SAAR group was up bright and early on Saturday morning as keynote speaker Jolene Watson took the stage for her talk at 8 a.m.

An expert in networking and client relations, Watson educated the crowd on the best ways to be remembered by clients and how to foster results-driving relationships with partners.

SAAR conducted its AGM and elections next, where Bryan Leier of Bennett Ford thanked the current board members—Terry Beattie, Bree Campbell, Kim Kos, Bryan Neufeld, Shane of Kavia Auto Body, Harv Britton, Tom Parnell, Brayden Heroux, Greg Smith, Merlin Thomas and Bryan Leier.

Three existing board members Tom Parnell, Greg Smith and Braydon Heroux stepped down from the board while Kurt Johnson from Twisted Metal in Tisdale, Mitch Holtvogt from Vern’s Paint and Body in Melfort and Brittany Huber from Dodge City in Saskatoon were elected in their place.

Sharon Ashley and Kari Barton of Bodyshop Connect took to the stage to discuss all the exciting features of the Bodyshop Connect platform⁠—including Parts Connect, which allows for easy status checks on parts.

Craig Alvaro of 3M was next on the stage to discuss the exciting and recently-launched RepairStack platform.

The SGI team spoke just before lunch to deliver a claims overview for the previous year. The public insurer also noted its marked improvement in bodyshop relations, as seen by its No. 1 ranked spot on Collision Repair‘s 2022 Insurer Report Card.

More speakers followed after lunch, including Darren Gasper, the superintendent of Saskatchewan’s Sunwest School Division, who discussed training programs; Paul Carter of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, who spoke on the benefits of becoming a member, and Christie Hall, who informed the audience on the different traits of the four generations currently working in the industry⁠—Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z.

Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s Scott Kucharyshen was next up⁠—he delivered an update on apprenticeship levels and general interest in auto body in Saskatchewan. The presentation spurred much discussion about generating interest in younger generations regarding work in the collision sector.

The ARA of B.C. and ATA of Manitoba delivered their respective updates before the final presentation of the day, where Don Pagoda, formerly of Parr Auto Body, interviewed Raj Kavia, former owner and operator of Kavia Auto Body in Saskatoon. Kavia treated the audience to his inspiring life story to round off the speaker portion of the day.

Before a pre-dinner break, Brett McNeil and Tom Bissonnette raffled off a grand prize, a Festool dust extractor.

A dinner, with drinks sponsored by BASF, closed out the meeting.

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