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Profiles of Success

Partner

POWER

CARSTAR’s LC Group has grown by bringing managers into the owner’s circle By Mike Davey

The LC Group owns 11 locations in southern Ontario. Managers frequently have an ownership stake in their store. From left: Javier Torres, Peter Chavez (Director), Franc Cundari, Robin Juns, Osmar Nuñez, Allen Mattice and Ian Ladd (Director).

T

here are a number of people with varying levels of ownership in CARSTAR’s LC Group, but you can’t really talk about them without first mentioning Ian Ladd and Peter Chavez. The two first met approximately 20 years ago. At the time, Ladd was working as a Business Development Manager for Spies Hecker and Chavez was running a shop in Burlington, Ontario. Spies Hecker would later be acquired by DuPont (now Axalta Coating Systems) and Chavez and Ladd would partner to found a number of CARSTAR stores. At this point in our story, though, all of that lies in the future. Chavez left the shop in Burlington after a few years as Manager, and Ladd offered him a job selling paint. The base pay was less than what he had made as a shop manager, but

of course there are commissions. However, it wasn’t the money that attracted Chavez to the new job. “I thought to myself, ‘This job is going to get me inside every collision centre around,’” says Chavez. “I’ve never regretted the decision.” Getting an inside view of so many different collision facilities was an irresistible opportunity for Chavez. He and Ladd soon started selling paint together. All the time, they were building a solid bank of knowledge on collision repair processes and best practices. They also sold a lot of paint. “We had a premium product,” says Ladd. “When you consider that Peter would often help them with best practices as part of the sale, it was an unbeatable combination.”

Ladd and Chavez were still on the supplier side of the aisle at this point. That was about to change. One of their clients wanted to retire. He came to Chavez and offered to sell him the business. “He asked me if I wanted to buy his shop, but I told him I really didn’t have the money. He said, ‘we can work something out.’” A few weeks went by. Chavez and Ladd met up at a Starbucks, as they did roughly four times a week back in those days. Ladd mentioned that the same shop owner had asked him to buy the shop as well. The next thought was obvious. Why not buy it together? It was a good idea, but Chavez and Ladd needed to crunch some numbers first. What they found brought the idea to a halt … but not for long. february 2017  collision Repair  29

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