JACK AT ALL TRADES – Collision Repair Magazine


Story and photos by MAX REID

We give so much of our lives to our jobs, but how often does your job give back to your life? Building others may be noble – there is no doubt – but when you don’t have time to build a foundation for yourself and your own family, your ability to give stagnates – you simply exist to nurture others with what you have and leave nothing for yourself. . So what do you do then? Perhaps you will step back, reconnect with the people you trust the most, and together create a legacy that will become synonymous with integrity and genuine care.

That’s what Al Guarino of Leon’s Auto Body did, and things are going very well for him. A relative newcomer to the industry, with no family pedigree in the bodywork game and a footprint dating back only to 2014, Al had a lot to prove when he took over the reins of his North York repair center eight years ago. .

“We sat here in 2014 and said, ‘We’re not going to face these chains – we just can’t,'” Al said on the phone with Collision Repair, alongside his son and the company’s manager. Leon’s body shop. Daniel. “We thought: [these franchise players] are too big to compete with; they have too much market share and we are not going to increase our market share by doing exactly what they are doing.

With exceptional business knowledge between them, Al and Daniel knew they would have to find a way to separate themselves from the pack, especially as their business operates along some of the busiest roads in Canada. “There are different niches that bodybuilders fill in this industry. There are channels that are really focused on the insurer relationship. While Leon’s is very focused on achieving its KPI objectives and maintaining our relationships with our insurance partners, we are very focused on our customers; they were the ones who brought their vehicle in and insisted it be fixed at Leon’s Auto Body,” Al said.

To that end, Al says his team strives to deliver top quality repairs for even the most complex jobs that today’s vehicles present to them. The many OEM certifications that Leon boasts of are a particular source of pride for Daniel who, like his father, entered this industry “completely inexperienced but ready to learn. Eight years later, it is clear that the progress is impressive. “We were the second shop in Ontario to be certified by Tesla, long before most shops had even considered making the necessary investments to repair electric vehicles. We are also one of the few Ultra stores in Ontario,” said Daniel.

Al; a chartered accountant and former managing partner of the global accounting firm Arthur Andersen LLP, and Daniel; a brilliant young graduate in business management. There’s no documented evidence that either has ever hammered a dent in their lives, and yet they make moves that other repair facilities can only dream of.

Father and son didn’t get where they are without challenge, of course. In its early years under new management, Leon’s Auto Body was gathering a strong core of ambitious and driven technicians, painters and parts experts to be able to perform highly skilled repairs right from the start.

“One of the keys is putting the right person in place and making sure they see a career path ahead of them that they can aspire to, and giving them some autonomy to make decisions in line with our goals. corporate, with support from Daniel and I if they need it,” Al said.

He believes that instilling a sense of agency and ownership into his team only pays off when it comes to achieving the levels of customer satisfaction that Leon seeks.