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Collision Olympics Wins Big!

After months of planning, the Collision Olympics debuted at the ATA Trade Show in true Manitoba fashion—during a winter storm.

by Theresa Jachnycky, director, Automotive Trades Association Manitoba (ATA)

Peering out the window that morning at the snow and icy roads, organizers reported having a sinking feeling that the weather might affect attendance. Elsewhere—maybe—but that did not stop our Manitoba hardy, who braved the elements and showed up in droves to experience the trade show and the first ever Collision Olympics. Nearly 500 people attended the event, including 140 students from various schools.

Minutes before the trade show opened, exhibiters described the quiet anticipation in the hall, followed by the noisy, exuberant entrance of the students. Then, it was four straight hours of non-stop interaction between exhibitors, students, teachers, and even Manitoba’s newly minted Minister of Advanced Education and Training, Renée Cable. The Minister stayed much longer than she was slated for, and this is what she said,

Had a fantastic time at the ATA Manitoba Trade Show and Collision Olympics (yes, it was as cool as it sounds). Students from across the province came to learn more about rewarding and in-demand careers…. I tried my hand at a VR paint simulator and marvelled at the efficiency of a pro removing hail damage from the hood of a car. 

A number of the students I spoke with already had plans to apprentice at shops in their home communities, and the experienced folks in the crowd were quick to tell me how rewarding and lucrative auto careers can be. I was especially thrilled to see a number of women in the crowd and to learn that Renée Sicotte is actively working to recruit more. 

Lesson of the day? Consider a career in the auto trades!

Others also relished their experience. Exhibitor Ann Vincent summed it up best in her briefing note to the company’s executives at Mitchell: 

“It was such a great experience to witness our Next Gen Collision Repair students with no prior experience sit down and write an estimate.… My favourite part of the day was the look on the faces of those same students when we demonstrated how a select group of photos could generate a $9,200 preliminary estimate in just a few clicks.” 

The best endorsement, however, came a few days later when one of the organizers received a text message about a lone student from Stonewall, Manitoba, who caught wind of the show and attended the event. The student informed his teacher that he needed to change schools, explaining that he wanted to enroll in an automotive program at a technical vocational education school. How cool is that?

ATA’s Secretary/Treasurer, Renée Sicotte, with Manitoba’s Minister of Advanced Education and Training, Renée Cable at the ATA Manitoba Trade Show and Collision Olympics. Photo courtesy of the ATA

The evening portion of the trade show was just as lively. It felt good to see the industry come together and enjoy themselves. Technicians, managers, owners, and even spouses were engaging with one another, a hallmark of the old days but with a twist.

The Olympic Competition saw 20 teams battle it out. Boyd Autobody & Glass, Jim Gauthier Collision Centre, Carstar (Dugald), and Eastside Collision went on to the finals with Eastside Collision taking first place. It was like being at a big-league sports game with the audience cheering loudly for their home team.

This year, there was a lot of hype about the ATA Trade Show and its marquee event, the Collision Olympics. Its goals were to build community engagement within the ATA and in Manitoba’s collision repair industry, and inspire youth in particular. It is fair to say that the event was a big win for everyone who attended.