To say that auto bodywork is all in the family for the Koughans would be an understatement. To this day, the family’s name has been, and continues to be, associated with many premier body shops across Canada.
by Pat Rediger
Photos courtesy Fix Auto Sherwood Park
In 1977, Bill Koughan Auto Body opened on Prince Edward Island by the namesake and his son, Merv. Moving west, Merv left the island shop in the hands of his brother, David, who continues to operate the repair centre. In the central Alberta town of Tofield, Merv purchased a body shop, which he operated for a number of years before moving back to P.E.I. His passion for the industry was undeniable and he bought Gaudet’s Auto Body, which is now owned by Matt, another brother in the Koughan clan, while other brothers, nieces, and nephews also work at both island locations.
Merv and his wife, Theresa, made the decision to permanently relocate to Alberta, this time settling in Sherwood Park, a residential hamlet neighbouring Edmonton. In 1997, he made another acquisition in Broadmoor Auto Body, which Theresa became involved with on the administrative side. Over the years the shop has become renowned for offering quality collision repair services to residents in Sherwood Park and beyond.
“We really wanted to get out in front of any shifts or changes happening in the collision repair industry.”
In 2012, Merv’s sons, Scott and Craig, joined the management team and they were looking forward; envisioning the potential for bigger and better things ahead. This future focus saw them join the Fix Auto Canada network on March 1, 2017, under the banner of Fix Auto Sherwood Park.
“Our father has been in the automotive industry for over 40 years. He and mom have owned and operated shops from coast to coast,” Scott said, “Having that legacy of family body shops and people we know across the country is a great resource to speak with and share ideas.”
“Having that legacy of family body shops and people we know across the country is a great resource to speak with and share ideas.”
Scott said that running Fix Auto Sherwood Park today is truly a family affair. His parents provide veteran leadership with their longstanding involvement in the industry, while Scott and Craig bring diverse backgrounds and skills to the enterprise. Craig is a Red Seal Technician who concentrates on the technical side of the business. Scott has a university degree in Business Management and handles the administrative side of the operation. Their spouses, Nicci and Ashley, are also involved and as Scott noted, this high level of family participation in the business is one of the reasons it has been able to establish an excellent rapport with the community.
“We’re fairly well established in the area having made great relationships with our neighbours and customers. From day one we have been committed to giving back locally through sponsorship of sport teams, clubs, and events,” Scott explained. “The nice thing about Sherwood Park is that it’s a very community focused place where everyone knows each other. We’ve had people get into an accident in West Edmonton who get towed here, over 30 kilometers away because they say, ‘It has to be fixed in Sherwood Park.’ They like to keep things local.”
Further complimenting the Koughan’s community involvement is a commitment to delivering the highest calibre of services. Scott said the body shop is equipped to carry out a wide range of repairs, from small scratches to major accident damage, while maintaining environmentally responsible practices. Fix Auto Sherwood Park serves multiple customer groups including private individuals, fleet and management companies, as well as all insurance providers.
“We took out an advertisement in the paper and stressed to people that we were changing the shop name, but the people and ownership hasn’t changed.”
The company utilizes fully computerized Audatex and Mitchell estimation procedures for all body shop repairs along with Mitchell Repair Centre, which Scott said leaves an audit trail by which effective monitoring can take place to ensure complete customer satisfaction. Fix Auto Sherwood Park also offers replacement vehicles to its customers, if needed.
Scott said one of the strengths of the company is its staff, “Our people are all trained to a high standard; our technicians have recognized qualifications and regularly attend on-going instruction in order to stay on top of modern technologies.” Scott added, “The workshops are equipped with the very latest equipment to ensure that today’s vehicles are serviced and repaired to manufacturer specifications.”
When the body shop joined the Fix Auto network earlier this year it signalled a change in the direction for the company. Fix Auto is a large network of collision repair experts with body shops located throughout the world. It prides itself on helping body shops build trust with customers, create long-lasting ties with insurers, and optimize their procedures.
Leading up to the decision, Scott said the management team had noticed a definite shift in the industry. “It almost seemed like we were being left behind a bit.” He further explained, “We really wanted to get out in front of any shifts or changes happening in the collision repair industry. It was becoming harder and harder to keep up with customer, OEM and insurance expectations. After doing our research, Fix Auto seemed well aligned with our goals and that’s when we reached out to them.”
After meeting with representatives from Fix Auto, Scott and the management team decided joining the banner was in fact the right fit for them. Since making the move, Scott shares that the shop has realized the benefits of being part of the large network. Fix Auto has provided the local shop with extensive support in operations, training, and marketing, while recognizing and reinforcing the value of the human element of the business that has served this shop so well over the years.
“We took out an advertisement in the paper and stressed to people that we were changing the shop name, but the people and ownership hasn’t changed,” Scott said. “I don’t think we realized how well our name was known in Sherwood Park. A lot of people have stopped in for coffee to see what’s going on and make sure they see the same friendly faces.”
Fix Auto was more than happy to add this family business to its network.
“This newest addition to our region reflects what our brand is all about—partnering with the right owner-operators who embrace change and are dedicated to their customers and their community,” said Peter Polito, General Manager for Fix Auto Western Canada, at the launch event.
“As Fix Auto grows rapidly in Western Canada, we are thrilled to welcome a shop to our network that is dedicated to the proven success of family and community. We are honoured to have the Koughan family chose our Fix Auto family as their long-term partner for growth and wish their team much success in this new venture.”
The future looks bright for Fix Auto Sherwood Park. Within a few months, the body shop will have achieved its I-CAR Gold Class status and will then focus on OEM certification. It has also applied for Toyota Certification. Scott said that the assistance and insight from the regional Fix Auto team expedited the accreditation process helping to achieve their future vision more quickly than previously planned.
Scott concludes, “We are a forward thinking company committed to advancement with Fix Auto. It’s great that we can do so while staying true to the core values that have made us successful: trust, service, and reliability.”