40 YEARS OF BUSINESS: THE SUCCESS STORY OF A FAMILY-OWNED AUTO REPAIR SHOP
Perhaps it was the fact he was three years shy of the big-three-zero-mid-life-crisis, or perhaps it was his true passion for vehicle repair, but in 1976, 27-year-old Joe Dechaine decided to open J.D. Collision Ltd. in Bonnyville, Alberta. JD Collision was officially open for business.
Having worked for a long time as a Journeyman Auto Body Technician for Ducharme Motors, he decided it was time to venture out on his own.
His wife, Rose Marie Dechaine, was not only Joe’s partner in life but also his partner in business, right from the beginning. She started out as the accountant and office manager and still oversees the finances today (yes, this is what Beyoncé meant when she says girls run the world).
The building, office and reception area all-together totalled only 4800 square feet and was only accessible from the back alley.
The team started out small as well: in the beginning, Joe was the main Repair Technician, Frame Consultant, Painter, and Estimator. There were approximately 5 other employees, including technicians and apprentices, to work alongside Joe when the business started.
1980: J.D. COLLISION PICKS UP SPEED
(Let’s take a minute before moving on to appreciate that pun.)
4 years after opening the Bonnyville shop, Joe decided to open a second shop in Cold Lake. Again, modest beginnings—a space of 2800 square feet and small team—but built on a foundation of integrity and great quality repairs.
Modest beginnings would not be a barrier to providing superior quality and service.
Even as the 80’s brought difficult times for many businesses, Joe and his team brought in new frame repair technology, a down draft paint room, and bake chamber facilities. J.D. Collision was also the first shop in the area to bring in the new and innovative collision repair technology of basecoat/clear coat refinishing.
1997-2002: AUTOSHOP PIONEERS—PAVING NEW ROADS
After starting up in the 70s, and operating for nearly two decades, both locations saw a renovation to offer expanded and modernized facilities, totaling a whopping 13,000 square feet. This included new shop and reception space for each location.
“J.D. COLLISION SAW A NEED TO SERVE AS AN ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS BUSINESS BEFORE LAWS, REGULATIONS, AND GOVERNMENT HAD CALLED FOR IT.”
J.D. Collision continued to be a pioneer in the industry, conquering many firsts in the area:
- A wedge clamp frame
- Unibody repair system with measuring system
- Pro spot resistance welding equipment (to recreate factory spot welds)
Have no idea what these things mean? Take our word for it, when it comes to collision repair—it’s cool stuff.
Environmentally Friendly Innovations
J.D. Collision saw a need to serve as an environmentally conscious business before laws, regulations, and government had called for it:
- 2009: Began refinishing cars with waterborne paint, 2 years before the government passed legislation which required it
- 2014: The Bonnyville shop installed a brand new top of the line paint booth, coffee room, modern air lines and screw compressor to maximize water conservation
- Completed new lighting and wiring throughout the shop to make the shop more energy efficient
2002—2007: THE NEXT GENERATION MODEL
As the years progressed Joe and Rose’s children Luc, Pat and Joel (all taking after their father’s passion for cars) became Journeymen Auto Body Technicians. Paul Oulette, their son-in-law, also followed this path, leaving his teaching profession to become a Journeyman Auto Body Technician.
“LONG-TERM EMPLOYEES HAVE BEEN WITH J.D. COLLISION FOR 10, 20—EVEN 30 YEARS.”
They have all started rewarding careers with J.D. Collision, which has proven to be an excellent place to work. Otherwise, we’d guess that some of their long-term employees (with 10, 20—even 30 years with the company) wouldn’t have stuck around that long!
J.D. Collision is one of the biggest trainers in town, and proud to have contributed to the learning and growth of many people who are now branching out to achieve their own success. J.D. Collision is proud to foster education and growth in their community and enable others to reach their potential the same way Joe did himself back in 1976.
2007—PRESENT: STEADY ON THE PEDAL
J.D. Collision has celebrated 40 years of success, and it won’t stop here!
Presently both shops serve customers with the latest technology for aluminum body repair, and the Cold Lake shop is boasting a new conference room for employee training and company meetings. J.D. Collision is also a huge supporter of the community and has contributed to many events and initiatives including sponsorship of the Jr. Golf Program and the Bonnyville Pontiacs.
There are a lot of good things in store for the future at J.D Collision, and they are very excited to begin the next 40 years. Who knows, in this family business, perhaps a third generation of the family will pick up the hammers and carry on with the family tradition.
PEDAL TO THE MEDAL: THE CELEBRATION
JD Collision is celebrating in style, and are extending the invitation for everyone to attend! They’ll be hosting a fun event for their 40th anniversary, as well as drawing for $4,000 in cash prizes to be given away as part of That 70’s Shop Cash Giveaway.
They invite you to join them on September 16th, from 11:30 AM—4:30 PM, at their Bonnyville location located just east of the post office on 51 ave. There will be a classic car show, a BBQ, face painting, cash and prize draws, new technology demos, and more!
Learn more and enter for your chance to win your share of $4000 in cash prizes by stopping by one of their locations in Bonnyville or Cold Lake, following them on Facebook, or by filling out the Online Giveaway form at www.jdcollision.ca!