Andrew Barkhouse spent most of his life around a collision center, so his knowledge regarding the car collision industry goes far enough. In the shop, Andrew is well appreciated for his wise decisions that earn him a lot of respect from everyone that works at CSN – Champlain Auto Body.
In the shop, Andrew always keeps his cool. He seems pretty laid back, but ask him a question about any car in production around the shop and he will swiftly answer.
Q: Andrew, you have been the General Manager of the family business for over ten years now, could you tell us how it all started and what it means to you to take the reins?
A: “I originally didn’t intend to work in a car collision centre. After graduating from school, I studied to become a machinist. Then I moved out west to work at CNC Manufacturing. Eventually my father called me up and told me he would have to sell if I didn’t take over the business.”
He chose to resettle in New Brunswick, where he bought a house and didn’t waste any time to start working at CSN – Champlain Auto Body.
“I found myself in a sink or swim kind of situation. Even though I already had a lot of knowledge regarding what goes on in a bodyshop, I still had to learn how to run one. I also learned great tips from the suppliers and partners surrounding the business and I was able to quickly put this knowledge to good use.
Since becoming General Manager over ten years ago, the shop’s sales volume has more than doubled.
I was faced with this great opportunity to keep the family business moving and I am grateful for it. Today, although the shop is still owned by my father Terry, the success of the business depends on the decisions Mandie and I make.”
Q: We see high tech tools around the shop, it must be a challenge to stay ahead of the curve. Where do you think the future of bodyshop is heading?
A: “It can be scary at times for independent collision centre as it is a fast paced industry. So that’s why it’s important to have a network such as CSN Collision Centres. Nowadays to stay ahead of the pack, it’s best to offer services that come as close to the factory level as possible. That is why we keep investing in new vehicle technologies, tools and training for our staff.”
For example: In recent years, CSN – Champlain Auto Body invested in aluminum repair technologies, allowing us to fix aluminum built cars.
“As autonomous and electric vehicles make their way onto the market, our business will adapt and work to stay up to date with new technologies.”
Q: What do you think are the biggest challenges of running an auto bodyshop in 2017?
A: “Finding qualified employees. This trade has some old pre-conceived perceptions and is not considered as a top career path for high school grads.
When you walk in the shop you can see that this industry is not what it used to be, it is now much cleaner and we use cutting edge tech gadgets.
In recent years we got involved with the NBTAP and Apprenticeship programs to help motivate young graduates to pursue a career in car collision repair.”
NBTAP is an industry led program that offers ways for high school students to be involved and discover trades that might interest them.
The next step above is the Apprenticeship program, which allows high school graduates to learn the trade on the job combined with some technical learning in college.
“We currently have 4 apprentices in the shop and 3 permanent employees that has been through the apprenticeship program.
Q: When you are not in the shop, what do you like to do?
A: “Well, I probably have too many hobbies! Snowmobiling is for sure my favorite thing to do, wait… what I meant was I like to spend time with my family.”
Andrew Barkhouse and his wife Melissa have two sons, one that is almost 3 years old and one that is almost 1 year old.
“I like going in the woods with my SUV, hiking and exploring. I like long walks on the beach with a bottle of wine, but the snowmobiling is definitely what helps me keep it together.”