Mark Descoteau stands with the iconic

Parksville family business stays on top of technology

Terminal Auto Body has been operating in Parksville for 35 years

Experience. Longevity. Expertise. The latest in technology. This family business seems to have the recipe for success.

Terminal Auto Body moved from its Nanaimo location to Parksville in 1979. It’s been operating at its Island Highway location since 1984.

A quick tour around the 12,000 square-foot facility reveals attention to detail. It also shows this business has adjusted with the times, while keeping staff for years more than the norm for a small business.

A top-of-the-line paint-spraying booth. An impressive frame rack. A resistance welder. All hooked up with the latest in computer technology so colours, repairs and welds are done with precision.

“My dad has always been like that,” Mark Descoteau said of his father Al’s history of embracing technology. “To keep up, you have to buy it.”

Al and his children, Mark and Sari, own and work at Terminal Auto Body.

The shop’s size and organization is impressive now. When it was built, it was impressive for other reasons, too.

“At one point, it was the tallest building in Parksville,” said Mark. “They used to have fire practice here and pluck people off the roof.”

There are 13 people employed at Terminal, which sits on 1.5 acres close to most of the new auto dealers on the Island Highway.

“Most of our employees are 20 years plus (with the company),” said Mark. “I think that’s great.”

Many of the employees are ticketed journeymen in either collision repair or automotive refinishing (or both). They work with some cool stuff.

A sealed paint-spraying booth has a down-draft system that pushes fresh air in the top and drags it — along with particles — out the floor. Before the water-based paint is applied, it’s matched with factory specs through a computer program. Then it is applied in the down-draft booth, using heated nitrogen.

“The paint dries quicker and makes it more of a factory-style finish,” said Mark.

The computerized frame-bending rack doesn’t get a lot of use — it’s for those major jobs. Mark said the average vehicle repair at his shop comes in at about $2,500. And lately, they haven’t all been during the rainy, slushy winter months.

“The last three summers have been busier than normal,” said Mark.

Terminal Auto Body’s owners all live in Parksville or French Creek. They support youth baseball and the curling club, among other community groups.

Terminal is also part of a group of 12 body shops in the province who carry the Quality Assured Collision and Glass designation. That’s reflected on their new highway signage, which recently replaced the long-standing, familiar neon sign known to many Parksville residents.

Terminal Auto Body is located at 440 E Island Highway in Parksville and is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Call 250-248-2082.

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