Gabriel Merino, Budds’ Collision Services: Motivated Painter

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A desire to give back changed Gabriel Merino’s life.

In high school, not happy with academic studying, Gabriel Merino decided to take a co-op program in order to gain credits. With a desire to do something with cars, he got a job at Budds’ Collision. Eleven years later he is the shop’s Head Painter, a former Skills Canada car painting competition winner and has created Motivated Painters, a social media group that allows automotive refinish specialists to share ideas and learn from each other. Collision Management asked him to share his thoughts on focus, motivation, and leadership and how wanting to make a difference can have a huge impact.

What have been some of the most significant milestones in your career so far?

“I think one of my milestones has been winning first place in the Canadian Skills Competition in 2009 but, I think a bigger accomplishment has been working at Budds’ for 11 years now and the things I’ve learned along the way.”

Can you describe what a typical day is like for you in the shop?

“One of the first things is making sure the vehicle is up to standards as per refinishing specifications from our supplier. You need to make sure there isn’t any contamination in the paint and follow proper procedures to ensure the best finish possible. Working in an extremely high production shop also requires you to be highly organized and have the right team in place. From the general manager to the parts department, everybody needs to work together.

Without an amazing team, I simply wouldn’t be able to do what I do. Once a vehicle reaches the prepping stage, I will get the paint code and make sure I have everything I need for a smooth booth cycle. With so many special colours—from pastels to quad coat colors—it’s easy to come across a colour that needs to be specially ordered. If we’re not ready, the car sits and cycle time is ruined.”

What led you to start Motivated Painters and can you tell us a little about it?

“A few years ago, I found myself wanting to make a difference, and through some personal experiences something changed within me. I started to get into personal development and listening to podcasts and audiobooks.

I started filming and making videos of my work, including refinishing techniques, struggles, and solutions. I figured if I was having issues with certain things, there must’ve been other painters going through the same struggles. And if I had some tips, I wanted to share them.

In these videos, I talked about attitude and how it is one of the greatest and most underrated things that can motivate us to be better at who we are and what we do. If people wanted a raise they must add more value to the company. Slowly but surely it has grown over the last two years to an audience of automotive painters on YouTube and Instagram, who are trying to become better by learning and helping each other in this industry as a whole.

It turns out that happy painters do better jobs, work better with others and also make more money. So that’s Motivated Painters.”

What advice would you give to young people considering a career in this industry today?

“If you’re young and looking for a career in this trade, my advice is do the work. Start learning and don’t take anything personally. Put in the extra time and effort and you’ll see that this industry can be rewarding in so many ways. Take the chance!”

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