The latest Canadian Collision Industry Forum (CCIF) took place in Moncton on June 8 and 9.
Auto body repairers from several regions of the Maritimes, suppliers and representatives of major networks spent two days discussing body shop issues, sharing information and finding out more from guest speakers.
In keeping with tradition, a cocktail reception opened the meeting on June 8. For many participants, it was a privileged opportunity to reconnect and share the latest news.
The conference program on June 9 was dense and interesting. It covered the three pillars of the CCIF: profitability, people and technology, as stated at the opening of the meeting by Jeff Labanovich, President of the CCIF.
The first speaker, Judy Dickson, Program Director of the Automotive Sector Council of Nova Scotia, presented her organization’s work to attract, develop and retain workers in automotive aftermarket companies. Her association plays a pivotal role in promoting the introduction of a workforce that is sometimes under-represented in industry.
An example of collaboration
With the financial support of the government, the Council has developed a number of programs with local body shops and mechanics to help train and integrate not only high school students, but also First Nations representatives, immigrants and retirees wishing to re-enter the workforce on a part-time basis.
Reducing carbon footprint
Paul Prochilo, President and Co-Founder of Simplicity Car Care, then spoke about his company’s efforts to achieve carbon neutrality. He explained that a portrait of the network’s carbon footprint had been drawn up, and that certain targets had been identified so that these body shops could contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which are devastating for our climate and the future of our planet.
Whether it’s optimizing travel, making suppliers aware of our efforts or opting for more environmentally-friendly repair technologies, a number of concrete actions have been taken over the past year. One of the factors on which Simplicity Car Care also relies is to favour repairing parts rather than replacing them, whenever possible in line with manufacturers’ repair processes.
“Repairing a part instead of replacing it reduces the carbon footprint by 65%,” says Prochilo. “The replacement part doesn’t have to be manufactured and transported to the workshop. And if a recycled part can be used, we’re already talking about a 42% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.”
He invited all the auto body repairers present to be sensitive to the importance of contributing to the improvement of the global environment, but also, of the communities they serve.
More expensive repairs
Hanna Beydoun, Director of Policy at the Insurance Bureau of Canada, took over virtually to explain the results of studies that quantify and explain the average increase in repair costs. “Automotive technologies are becoming increasingly complex, as are the processes for repairing them,” she explained. “What’s more, more and more parts have to be replaced, often by original parts, rather than repaired. We can also see that the number of parts needed to repair vehicles is rising sharply, as is the time required to do so. What’s more, the trend among consumers is towards light trucks, which is also pushing up repair costs.”
Ms. Beydoun illustrated this curve by pointing out that repairing the same Honda Accord without additional equipment cost 16% more on average, for the same damage, than the same 2022 version. For Toyota’s RAV 4, we’re talking about a jump of 49.6% over the same period.
The right to repair
The speaker concluded her presentation by highlighting AIA Canada’s efforts to have the federal government recognize consumers’ right to repair. In her view, it’s essential that Canadian motorists have the choice of having their vehicles serviced and repaired where they want, and that these workshops have access to all the information they need for fast, safe repairs.
Next, Brandon Roy of I-CAR Canada gave an overview of the technology shared by vehicles. Explaining that nearly half the cars on our roads today have some form of advanced driver assistance system (ADAS), it’s important that body shops embrace this technology by following the I-CAR training courses offered on the subject.
Turbulence and growth
“It’s a growth opportunity for your business,” he summed up. “Make a plan for your team. Identify the technician(s) best suited to certification. Then build your own static and dynamic calibration processes.”
Jean-François Champagne, President of AIA Canada, added to the content of this CCIF meeting by explaining the unifying role of his association. At a time when information is of the utmost importance, AIA Canada invests heavily in research and delivers documented studies that serve as pillars for the recommendations it makes to government.
“There’s turbulence on the horizon, but we’re here to inform you and offer solutions,” he said, going on to stress the importance of training, particularly through the I-CAR program run by AIA Canada.
Sam Mercanti concluded the match. The founder of CARSTAR in Canada recounted his journey through the collision industry, which led to the sale of his network to Driven Brands in 2015.
“I see, as I did 50 years ago, that you’re not paid enough,” he quipped in question time. “But things are changing. You have to stick together within the CCIF.”