HAMILTON, ON – August 25, 2006 – Delegates from across Canada gathered in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan last weekend for the 9th annual CARSTAR Industry Conference. CARSTAR franchisees and their families, corporate employees, insurance partners, and vendor partners were among those gathered for the three-day conference which took place August 17 – 19.
The annual conference brings together some of the best and brightest in the automotive and insurance industries to share ideas and information. The theme of this year�s conference was �Kaleidoscope� which organizers felt captured the essence of how CARSTAR is illuminating the auto collision industry. Much like a Kaleidoscope, CARSTAR has fused together all of the parts: Franchisees, Vendors, Insurance Partners and Employees to create the whole.
�This is an amazing opportunity for us to bring together everyone in the CARSTAR family,� said Sam Mercanti, President and CEO of CARSTAR Automotive Canada. �We�re proud to recognize our dedicated franchisees and business partners, everyone who works hard to make CARSTAR one of the most successful and trusted names in the auto collision repair industry.�
To kick off the conference, Saskatoon�s Deputy Mayor Terry Alm welcomed the group of almost 250 attendees and introduced the Saskatoon Children�s Choir, who performed �O Canada.� Saskatoon, which is home to two of CARSTAR�s more than 110 locations, was chosen to host the conference from over 70 cities in 10 provinces across Canada. Local businesses were clearly pleased to have CARSTAR delegates in Saskatoon � many hung welcome signs in their establishments.
�Saskatoon was an excellent host for this year�s conference,� said Mercanti. �Franchisees Joe and Cheryl Schmidt, who own and operate two CARSTAR locations in Saskatoon, were instrumental in bringing the conference to the city. It was a great opportunity for us to recognize their commitment to CARSTAR and for them to showcase the beauty of Saskatoon to their colleagues from across the country.�
Conference delegates participated in sessions on marketing tools such as advertising, public relations and interactive web marketing, as well as client relations, industry trends, insurance trends and claims, training and human resources, community involvement and maximizing growth. Through these sessions, delegates learned what it takes to be the best in class.
Special guest speakers included: Dr. Chris Bart, Professor of Strategy & Governance at the DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University; Nora Hohman. V.P. Claims & Ken Boulton, Program Coordinator of The Dominion of Canada Insurance Company; Rocco Neglia, V.P. Claims, The Economical Insurance Group; Paul Hicks, AVP, Claims Procurement, Aviva Canada Inc.; Norman Rose, President, Exel Sales Consulting; Michel Caron, National Accounts District Manager, Collision Repair Services/Audatex and for the first time in Canada, George Avery, Claims Consultant, State Farm Insurance, USA. CARSTAR speakers included members of CARSTAR�s executive and management team.
The conference also featured a Business Partners Expo, where franchisees and other attendees had an opportunity to network and learn more about some of the industry�s top companies, including insurance and vendor partners. More than 20 conference sponsors were present including the platinum and gold sponsors: BASF, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Akzo Nobel, Discount Car & Truck Rentals and Audatex.
�It is the incredible support from our sponsors and our partners, who make it possible for us to put together this amazing conference year after year,� said Mercanti. �We are very lucky to have partners who share our vision and continue to work together to find ways to provide our customers with the very best experience possible.�
Conference organizers made sure that there was also an opportunity to mix some business with pleasure at the annual O.S.C.A.R. gala awards presentation. The ceremony highlights some of the exceptional work that CARSTAR franchisees do on an annual basis and recognizes outstanding service, commitment and results.
Several awards were presented including the coveted President�s Club Award. Winners for 2006 included Windsor CARSTAR Collision, Windsor, ON; Carrosserie Mont-Bleu CARSTAR-Hull, QC; Concordia CARSTAR Collision, Ottawa, ON and Maritime CARSTAR Collision, New Minas, NS.
The awards gala and other conference activities took place at the luxurious Delta Bessborough and at Saskatoon�s TCU Place. To wrap up the conference, delegates were treated to an authentic prairie experience at beautiful Champ�tre County.
�This year�s conference was an overwhelming success,� said Sam Mercanti. �We are extremely thankful to all of our franchisees and partners who took the time to participate in this conference. It�s people who make the difference and our people are the best in the business. Planning has already started for next year�s conference in Niagara Falls and we look forward to even bigger and better things to come.�
About CARSTAR Automotive Canada
With over 375 locations across North America, CARSTAR is the leader in the automotive collision repair industry. Founded in Hamilton, Ontario, CARSTAR Automotive Canada has grown from eight to over 110 locations in just 10 years. CARSTAR repairs approximately 1 in 20 vehicles in Canada � 6,000 vehicles per month � with high rates of customer satisfaction. For more information, please visit CARSTAR at www.carstar.ca < http://www.carstar.ca/>.