By Max Reid
KEVIN DHALIWAL AND LOVEPREET MANN SET THE STAGE FOR SUCCESS AT RUNWAY AUTO COLLISION
A big ego doesn’t get you quite as far as it used to in this industry. The glory days of semi-improvised dent repair and cutting corners in the paint booth are a thing of the past. The standards have risen for shops who intend on keeping their doors open and an always-expanding aftermarket industry is succeeding in levelling the playing field for young upstarts looking to get a foothold in the industry with elite-quality equipment.
So where do the truly great shops separate themselves from the rest? It’s about being the shop that customers want to send their cars to, not the one they have to. It’s about setting ego aside, letting top-quality repair work happen behind-the-scenes and leaving focus on the real importance of the job—helping people get their lives back on track. Kevin Dhaliwal and Lovepreet Mann of Runway Auto Collision have found a way to put that theory into practice just about perfectly. Co-owners Kevin and Lovepreet have been steeped in the auto industry for their entire lives; the former spending his teenage years building an appreciation for car modding and bodywork; and the latter expanding on a foundation built by her father and developing a collision repair business philosophy all of her own.
“My father worked as a mechanic for about 37 years. My siblings and I have always been in the family business—it’s like a second home for us,” said Lovepreet, over Zoom with Bodyworx. The Runway Auto brand was first established in 2005 in Brampton, Ont. by Lovepreet’s father Rana, who still runs his mechanical shop to this day, and was followed by the launch of Kevin and Lovepreet’s venture, Runway Auto Collision, which first opened its doors in 2016. Lovepreet spent ten years learning the business of insurance and listening to the voice for customer. “While listening to the customer, I always felt that there was a gap between the shops or vendors and the insurance policy, and it was always the customer who got squeezed in between the two,” said Lovepreet.
“The insurance companies are in the policy business and the collision shops are in the autobody business, but we are in the people business.” This thought would come to inform the entire business philosophy for Runway Auto Collision going forward. “We’re trying to shift our focus from being in the collision industry, to being in the accident management industry,” said Lovepreet. “We wanted to create something that clos- es that gap for the customer, where they are able to get a seamless experience from their policy and are benefitting from the coverage that they pay for.” Customers who enter Runway Auto Collision are given the opportunity to become educated on the specifics of their insurance policy in a way that few other shops are capable of providing.
“They don’t entirely understand or experience that policy because it’s just a pink slip you get in the mail, shove in a drawer in your car and never look at again. I don’t think people even read what they get because it’s so long and full of fine-print. “Then you get in an accident and you want coverage for everything because you’ve paid for something for so long that you’ve never used.” In this way Kevin and Lovepreet make it their goal to address the specific personal needs of their customers as yet another step along the repair process.
“For some people it might mean the dif- ference of whether they can drop their kids off at school every day, or attending doctor’s appointments or just living their life the way they normally do,” said Lovepreet. But all this good intention only goes so far if there isn’t solid repair work to back it up. Luckily, Runway has Kevin; a Red-Seal-certified auto body technician, shop manager, and the glue that holds the customer experience together. “Kevin is a big part of the human aspect of the shop,” said Lovepreet. “He’saveryrelatableperson,socustom- ers love him. He can speak to them on their level, whereas sometimes throughout the conversation I might get a little bit technical. The customer is walked through how repairs should be completed as per the manufacturer recommendations.”
The love Kevin puts into his work is returned in kind by the customers he works for, who are more than happy to show an extra bit of appreciation. “They know my birthday; they come here with balloons and a cake,” said Kevin. “We have customers who bring us lunch; one customer bakes us a cake every month.” “We won’t even be repairing their car and they’ll still bake us a cake!” said Lovepreet. All things considered, cake and meals are really only a small prize for the great work that Runway Auto Collision does in their local Brampton community.
From their donations to Sick Kids, their sponsorship of a local youth hockey team, or the fact that they managed to send 180 local kindergarteners on a field trip to Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto, Runway is never lacking in ways to return the support they have been given back to the community. “We also donate to Match for Marrow which is a foundation for matching Leukaemia patients with stem cells,” said Lovepreet. The partners shared one story in particular that perfectly demonstrates the key difference of being in the people business versus ordinary collision repair. “We had a customer who was in collision who was at-fault and didn’t have rental coverage on her policy,” said Lovepreet.
“She inquired two days later to see if her vehicle was ready. When I said it wasn’t, she mentioned that she needed her car to get to chemotherapy because she’s been taking a taxi and it’s been adding up. “Obviously, we weren’t aware of that, so we had a discussion and we decided to lend her out a rental vehicle, at the shops expense, for the time that the vehicle was being repaired.” What Lovepreet said next is a lesson that everyone should learn from—everyone—all companies in all industries—everyone. “You make money every day, but you can’t make money from everything.”
Right now, Runway Auto Collision and Repair Inc. spans across three buildings on adjacent properties: Rana’s Runway Auto mechanical shop, Kevin and Lovepreet’s original 6,400 sq.-ft. auto body facility, which will be converted into an express paint facility, as the pair recently opened the doors of a third neighbouring fa- cility of 12,000 sq.-ft. that will complete the bulk of Runway’s complex repairs. The Dhaliwal-Mann duo has nowhere to go but up as Runway’s reputation continues to grow in Brampton and as the seeds of kindness they have sown in their community begin to take root. “Everyone is always trying to change the world,” said Lovepreet. “If you can change your home, that’s enough. If everybody does a little bit of that, the world changes.”