Chris Agnew, owner of Sommerville Smash Repairs has a passion for continuously learning and improving his business, as well as driving quality outcomes for his customers.
Chris has been operating Sommerville Smash Repairs in Nerang on the Gold Coast since 1994 and has been using the Spies Hecker paint system for 20 years. Chris ran the business with his brother Carl until last year, when he bought him out and Carl moved for a tree change. The business currently has
29 staff, including painters, panel technicians, office staff, detailers and spare parts managers.
Dedicated to continuous improvement, Chris works closely with Axalta to identify where he can implement new technologies in his business. So, when Axalta recently launched is patented Fast Cure, Low Energy technology, Chris and the team were quick to embrace the new products and processes.
“We’ve been using the Low Energy Speed-TEC technology products for a while now,” explains Chris. “They are excellent in allowing us to speed up the process. The high-speed clears save me about 25 minutes per vehicle in baking time, which is a game changer. The UV primer is excellent, as is the 20-minute air dry high fill primer which is extremely handy.”
The use of these products allows the team to repair 80 cars per week, on average. It’s not just new products that excites Chris. He is passionate about improving processes in the shop and is a firm believer in ongoing training and improvement, from his management team to those in the shop.
“We undertake a lot of training, as our team benefits from the knowledge and information. We see the improvements on the workshop floor and it creates incentives to work better and support a healthy business. Axalta ran a management course for all 27 of my staff, which they designed and had authorised by I-CAR so we could get the credits. Although it was a management course, we had all staff participate. It really helped to engage my productive staff and gave them a taste of the other side of the business.”
Excitingly, one of Chris’ apprentices, Olivia Agnew (who is also his niece), has been selected to represent Queensland in Vehicle Painting at the WorldSkills Nationals in Perth in August, clearly demonstrating the positive outcomes of training and development.
Chris is really pleased with the positive affect training has on his staff and the business culture.
“The culture of our business is what really makes us stand out. I am fully engaged with all my staff, as are my managers. It creates a good environment that supports quality outcomes for our customers.”
“We’re striving to be at the pointy end of the industry,” Chris concludes. “We’re not just there to make a dollar, but also to be the best we can be. We choose to use a premium product for a premium service at the end of the day.”