For a second-generation business, Mark Descoteau said it’s always about looking forward.
Mark and his sister Sari Smith have taken over Carstar Terminal Autobody (440 East Island Highway) from their dad Al Descoteau, who moved the business to Parksville from Nanaimo in 1979.
Smith, who used to be a pre-school teacher, said she starting working at the shop in 2010.
“I started because it’s in the family,” Smith said. “It became something I wanted to be a part of.”
Mark said one of the reasons why the business has lasted so long is because they’re always keeping their technology up-to-date.
“We’ve been here for a long time, but we’re always constantly upgrading. We’re on the leading edge,” Mark said. “We have been constantly upgrading our equipment to match new vehicle technology coming out.”
Mark said they’ve invested quite a bit lately into aluminum repair capabilities.
Al said their shop is probably the most well-equipped in the mid-Island area.
“Doing a proper collision repair, there’s places that will tell you they can do a collision repair , but we have all the set up for that with the special welders, the special rivet guns. There’s a whole new technology to aluminum repair.”
Al said it’s scary to think of how much technology has changed since he started the business.
“We’ve been on top of technology. From the dawn of time, I’ve tried to keep — if not ahead — to keep up to the technology that’s out there,” Al said.
Another way, Terminal Autobody keeps their workers up-to-date is by making sure they have the latest training, but Al added the training isn’t just for their staff.
“Whenever we can, we’ll hire a trainer to come to our shop,” Al said. “Then we let the other shops in the mid-Island area know so that we can get our guys trained and they can send their guys to our shop to get the same training.”
In the past year and a half, Mark said they joined Carstar which is across the country and the U.S.
Al said Carstar brings in more private insurance work, but he added it’s recognizable to people who aren’t from the Parksville Qualicum Beach area.
“There are people who move here from Alberta and recognize the Carstar sign,” Al said.
Both Al and Mark said their local customers —which range from Parksville to Bowser — have been loyal over the years.
Al said there are a few families that have kept coming to the business over the years.
“If there weren’t people around here saying nice things about us, we wouldn’t be here today,” said Al, adding that they have the community to thank for staying in business for so long.