By Mike Davey

Toronto, Ontario -- February 1, 2014 -- The collision industry performed relatively well in 2013, according to statistics released today at the Toronto meeting of the Canadian Collision Industry Forum (CCIF). CCIF took place the Airport Marriott in Toronto, Ont.

This meeting marks the first event under the direct administration of the Automotive Industries Association of Canada (AIA) and the first release of data from the initial Business Conditions Survey organized by AIA.

 

 

Leanne Jefferies of AIA Canada opened the meeting and discussed the format for the day before giving the floor to Larry Jefferies of CARSTAR Automotive Canada, who began a new term as chairman at CCIF Toronto. Larry took the opportunity to thank Tom Bissonnette of Parr Auto Body for serving as chairman of CCIF for the last few years. Jefferies noted that Bissonnette’s term as chairman was marked by a desire to go beyond the status quo.

“He’s stirred the pot a few times,” says Larry, to the crowd’s obvious approval. “But people came back.”

Larry has been involved with CCIF since its inception. An early and common criticism of CCIF was that it was long on talk and short on action. He acknowledged this criticism, and noted that if it had not been dealt with, there was a very real possibility that CCIF would have disappeared.

“There’s no possibility of that happening now,” says Larry. “We have a clear mission and a mandate.”

Larry outlined that mission as focusing on the three things that matter most to repairers, as shown by surveys of CCIF attendees: profitability, vehicle technology and repair complexity and human resources.

One of the primary ways in which CCIF has moved towards more of an action based model is with the recent introduction of the Business Conditions Survey. This marks the first efforts to survey a broad cross-section of the industry on an ongoing basis. As Larry pointed out, up until this time, only anecdotal evidence had been available.

The initial survey results as presented during CCIF are taken from data uploaded by 712 collision repair facilities. The data was managed, aggregated and analyzed by Desrosiers Automotive Consultants.

Jefferies encouraged those in attendance to make sure they have entered the data from their facilities. There is a definite pay off involved for any shop that participates.

“This is the only time that, if you’re not putting data in, that you’ll see the results,” says Jefferies.

After a short break, attendees were treated to a short presentation by Marc Honorat, Director of Haiti Arise, a non-profit organization that has established a technical college in Haiti as part of its efforts to provide children with greater opportunity.

Honarat’s personal story is heart-rending. His parents couldn't care for him, and had to give him away when he was just five years old.

"For the next seven years, I was a slave," says Honorat, who makes it clear that he is not speaking figuratively. His older brother located Honorat when he was 12 and helped him get out of that situation. Sponsors from Canada helped Honorat go to school, including sending him to university in Jamaica. He later traveled to Canada to complete his studies.

"Haiti is not that far from us here," says Honorat. "It's closer to go to Haiti than to go to Calgary from Toronto. I'm here to invite you to come partner with us and help us make change in Haiti."

Andrew King of Desrosiers Automotive Consultants was next to take the podium. King provided some background on Desrosiers Automotive Consultants, and why a broad study of the automotive world leads to more solid predictions about particular aspects.

“If you want to find out what the automotive aftermarket will be like in five or 10 years, you have to look at new car sales now,” says King, giving just one example of how Desrosiers’ sole focus on automotive data can help them to find connections.

King presented some conclusions from the initial Business Conditions Survey, noting that there has been strong performance from the industry as a whole in 2013. He also discussed the different results seen from different regions of the country, as well as referring to Desrosiers’ data on new and used car sales.

New car sales were very strong in Canada. In fact, 2013 was a record breaking year, with more new vehicles being sold than in 2002, the previous record holder. Canada was alone among the developed nations in setting records for new vehicle sales this year.

Looking deeper into the numbers, the Ford F150 managed to sell in numbers almost double that of the most popular passenger car, the Honda Civic. In addition, the luxury segment set a record in 2013.

“This is going to have a big impact on your business, as you’re going to be repairing a lot more high-end vehicles,” says King. “Obviously, there’s going to be a big impact on insurance as well.”

Doug Kirk of AkzoNobel gave the last presentation before the lunch break. Kirk works and lives in the UK, and gave several useful comparisons between the industry in Canada and in the UK. The industry in the UK has seen plunging shop numbers, going from 35,000 shops to around 3,000 today. This has lead to an industry where innovation has become almost commonplace.

“We’ve had to challenge all of the conventions,” says Kirk, referencing trends such as customer pay, mobile repair, small repairs and attempts to bring much previously subcontracted work into the facilities.

After a break for lunch, attendees returned for a panel discussion moderated by Larry Jefferies, drawing on topics presented during Kirk’s presentation.

Eric Boutin, Director of Parts & Service Business Development, Group After Sales at Volkswagen Group Canada took to the stage to discuss new materials developed by the OEM, and how they are changing the repair process. Boutin demonstrated the importance of professional repairs, the importance of ensuring that staff are properly trained to follow OEM standards, using the right equipment, ultimately leading to increased safety for Canadian vehicle owners.

Leanne Jefferies followed, presenting an update on the CCIF Skills Program and what’s ahead for 2014.

Following Jefferies, Margaret Knell, chair of the Women’s Industry Network (WIN) updated attendees on WIN, its importance to both women in collision repair and the industry in general, and how interested parties can get involved.

CCIF Toronto concluded with updates from Andrew Shepherd, Executive Director of ICAR Canada, on the state of ICAR training in 2013, and from Dan Risley, ASA Executive Director, on U.S. market conditions and what to expect at NACE 2014.

For more information on CCIF, please visit ccif.ca.

 

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