The Canadian aftermarket industry hardly gets any mentions in international press, but one man is changing that image by taking his Canada-headquartered company to the world. Steve Leal, President and CEO of Fix Network, has reinforced his company’s presence in new territories by entering new markets and adding more franchisees to the Fix Network family – in less than five years.
Under Steve’s leadership, Fix Network is transforming the global collision franchise business by aligning operations around lean, customer-driven processes that deliver greater efficiencies for operators and insurance partners, and consistently surpass customer expectations. Fix Network’s aftermarket brands such as Fix Auto, ProColor Collision, NOVUS Glass and Speedy Auto Service are gaining more recognition, thanks to the network’s push.
Today, if an increasing number of independent body shops are discovering the benefits of Fix Network’s franchise model, it is because of Steve’s vision to continuously empower his franchisees to operate independently but think internationally. The franchise model is simple and has already become popular with the aftermarket fraternity the world over – from Australia to New Zealand, from Europe to the United States, from Mexico to the United Kingdom.
The Fix Network model touches every aspect of the aftermarket industry – from collision repair to glass repair and replacement to mechanical repair and maintenance. Depending where they are based, franchisees can choose to align their business with top Fix Network brands such as Fix Auto, ProColor Collision, Speedy Auto Service, NOVUS Glass, Speedy Glass USA, SRP, NOVUS Plastic Polish and TAG Network. Today, Fix Network boasts over 2,000 points of service globally – a remarkable achievement that puts Steve well ahead of his peers.
“These are exciting times for the aftermarket industry, in general, and our network, in particular,” says Steve. “While we are the largest collision repair services provider in Canada today, our ambition is to become the leader worldwide and create a legacy that we can be truly proud of. I believe we are moving in the right direction to achieve that goal.”
Continuous innovation is a key part of Fix Network’s operations. “We don’t want to be blinkered in any way,” says Steve. “We have a healthy approach towards our work which sees a lot of ideas coming through. These ideas are the foundation of our business operations and have helped us overcome many challenges.”
As part of that approach, last year, despite the challenges brought on by COVID-19, Fix Network was able to add 60 international locations to the family. With the aftermarket industry being considered as an essential service, Steve Leal and his team are keen to ensure that their franchisees are insulated from any economic fallout.
While his rise in the aftermarket industry is nothing short of meteoric, Steve’s success journey has its humble beginnings and has inspired many people to seek a future in the aftermarket business. Starting as a Fix Auto franchisee in Cambridge, Ontario in 2005, Steve was quick to recognize the opportunities that lay in the aftermarket industry and embarked on a journey to eventually become majority shareholder and owner of Fix Network World (Mondofix Inc.) in 2014. At the same time, he brought in the Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec, one of North America’s largest institutional investors, as a minority stakeholder in the business.
Later, he embarked on a series of acquisitions – Speedy Auto Service and Minute Muffler in 2016, global rights to NOVUS Glass in 2017 and Quebec-based Carrossier ProColor (ProColor Collision) in October 2019. Last year, ProColor Collision expanded to the US market while Fix Auto opened two new locations in Mexico and six in Spain this year – an example of Steve’s determined push for a large global market share.
“We are just getting started,” Steve says. “The auto aftermarket industry has been evolving continuously and I am keen to take the first-mover advantage in many thriving markets. I am glad that many independent body shops are recognizing the power of the network and want to align themselves with us. We are there to support their growth every step of the journey.”
During the pandemic, Fix Network has invested its time and efforts in ensuring that its franchisees remain ahead of the competition by being trained in the most modern repair technologies and ensuring that their technicians are accredited in industry-defined certification programs such as Canadian Collision Industry Accreditation Program (CCIAP).
Today, Fix Network operates three training centres across Canada that educates its franchise partners and their teams on the best practices in collision repair, glass repair and customer services. The curriculum at these training centres is designed by an experienced team of industry professionals and includes both new technician and refresher sessions.
“Our people make all that difference,” explains Steve. “Throughout my journey, I have been incredibly lucky to have an amazing family of talented people who strongly believe in the franchise model and are taking our business philosophy to body shops across the world.”