Fast, friendly service combined with professional staff who have the know-how to tackle the toughest jobs and a shop with the most up-to-date tools and equipment are just a few good reasons why customers continue to trust Pinetree Autobody with their collision repairs, auto glass replacement and vehicle painting.
When owner Neil McKenzie opened the shop in 1982 with one employee in a tiny space south of Powell River on Pinetree Road, auto body work was more straightforward than it is now, he says. The business has kept pace with many changes in the production of vehicles and adapted over the years, he adds.
As the business grew, Neil moved to a larger space in the city at 4487 Franklin Avenue that could better accommodate customers.
In 1996, Pinetree was the first shop in Powell River to have a one-million BTU-heated downdraft booth, equipment used to bake paint onto vehicles, and a decade ago it was also the first auto body paint shop to start using more environmentally sensitive water-based paints that require less solvent usage.
As manufacturing of cars and trucks becomes more complex, vehicles are increasingly built with more plastic and other non-metal materials, says Neil. Because one parts manufacturer might have a contract for car bumpers and another the contract for exterior mirrors, vehicles are no longer painted in one single tone of a colour, or even in the same factory, he adds.
It is hard for the untrained eye to notice, but not for anyone who paints cars for a living.
"When people come in they don't realize there are 14 shades of gold on their car,” says Neil. “They've never noticed it until they bring it here, then I point it out and it’s like they are seeing their car with new eyes."
Although Pinetree has kept pace with the evolution of the car industry over the years, the business’s core values remain the same as the day it opened more than 35 years ago.
“We’ve built our business on respect, integrity and first-rate service,” says Neil, adding that sometimes he finds himself talking potential customers out of paying hundreds of dollars to remove and repaint a scratched bumper because he knows it is easier and less expensive to use a bit of touch-up paint. That’s how Pinetree became Powell River’s go-to for collision repairs and auto glass replacement, he says.
Neil cannot say enough about the attention to detail his employees provide. It makes all the difference when customers are relying on Pinetree to bring their cars back, he adds.
“It's such a good group I have here,” says Neil. “It's unreal. I have the best guys in town.”
He adds that his shop has the right tools to do the job; for collision repairs that means having a frame bench and the pullers to fix things correctly.
"You don't do this kind of stuff in your backyard,” he says. “Take it to the people with the equipment, the experience and the knowledge.”
Neil says he would be remiss to not mention the important contributions of his office manager Jo-Al Meilleur.
“Jo-Al keeps us all here at Pinetree running smoothly,“ says Neil.
Pinetree is ICBC accredited for collision repairs and offers full-service frame and body repairs. Because of its working relationship with the insurance corporation, the business is pre-authorized for fast work on small claims. Pinetree also has a fleet of 12 courtesy vehicles for customers to use while their vehicles are in the shop.
From ICBC collision claims to auto glass and painting, Pinetree has the expertise to get the job done right. The business is one of only 25 auto body shops out of 1,500 in BC to win ICBC’s exclusive Award for Outstanding Customer Achievement.
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