uleomh · 2021-09-13 0

A dream come true

Like many of his childhood friends in the tiny Northern Ireland community of Omagh, Martin Monteith left school early to pursue an apprenticeship and soon married the woman who is still by his side today. Unlike many of his childhood friends, he had dreams beyond a life of employment in the local auto-body shop. He wanted to use his automotive experience to propel me to business ownership.

“I wanted to provide a bigger and better life for my family. Barely 20 years ago, we brought our young family to Canada and, in 1992, I opened my first 2,500-square-foot accident-repair shop on Barrie’s Hart Drive,” Monteith recalls. “At the time, I employed one part-time technician, but I knew it was just the beginning.” After several expansions, he outgrew the space entirely. Zenetec Collision Centre, built in 2000, is the result of his business ambitions to date. It is a state-of-the-art 22,500-square-foot facility on Barrie’s Tiffin Street. “The new centre was built to accommodate growth and, as anticipated, sales have doubled since we opened,” he reports. “I attribute our massive recent growth to exceptional customer service, quality workmanship and a corporate culture of courtesy.” Like many of those childhood friends, his own children (for the most part) haven’t strayed too far from home. Son William now oversees most of the daily operations of Zenetec, while daughter Diane tends the front-line as the key customer-service representative. Meanwhile, Monteith’s younger son William spends his working hours in the paint department on the shop floor. Daughter Alison, who recently completed her schooling, is currently travelling and working in Australia. “I am blessed to have my wife and children working alongside me,” says the soft-spoken Irishman. “I now have 35 employees who correct small dents and perform large repairs to restore nearly 200 vehicles per month.” Although he spends most of his time these days in the front offices, he’s been known to put on a pair of coveralls when work requires extra hands. His background plays well among the other tradespeople in the shop and has led to an environment of camaraderie. Several members of his staff have been with Zenetec for more than 10 years – with three crossing that threshold last year alone. One, prepper Rob Diedenhofen, who is the workers’ representative on the company health and safety committee, celebrated his 15-year anniversary with Monteith in September. The complement of staff is expected to continue to grow to keep up with ever-expanded sales. “Over 90 per cent of our business comes from insurance claims,” he says. “The rest are mostly return customers with minor damage they’d rather not claim.” He credits customer service and the strong team environment in the centre. “We do really look after our customers – it’s a top priority,” he says. “We’ve always treated customers with respect, even difficult ones.” The new centre was built to accommodate growth, but it’s already working at near capacity. Monteith continues to look ahead. “As the centre evolves, I continue to consider my options as I lead my team through further growth,” he considers. “I’d hoped I’d grow to a decent-sized shop,” he recalls. “I don’t intend to just finish with it here.”