Dana’s Collision Centre has one location located in Fredericton, NB and is owned by Dana and Carol Alexander. The business has been open for 44 years and is known for excellent customer service and quality work. Prior to opening their business, Dana worked at Canadian Tire and Carol worked at Sobeys. During this time Dana took advantage of a variety of job opportunities that were presented to him, he was offered a job at a car dealership where he ran parts, shuttling cars, and eventually was made the body shop manager. He also worked at Auto Machinery, O’Leary’s Auto and even bought and sold cars. Dana is self taught in his craft; he has always loved cars and would spend time fixing up the cars he would purchase, doing the body work and painting. He read as much as he could to learn as much as he could.
In 1979, Dana and Carol decided it was time to open their own body shop business, so they rented the garage at 101 Canada Street, and they moved their family into the house beside it at 99 Canada Street. They took out the gas pumps and set up the first Dana’s Auto Body Shop. Carol took on the administration and accounting responsibilities for the new business, setting up in the front porch of the house, while Dana ran the shop doing body work and painting. In 1985, the Alexanders learned about a new 3M computerized management system for auto body shops, so they travelled to Halifax where they were trained on this new computerized system. After 3 days of training, they packed up the computer system, brought it back and set it up in Carol’s office on the porch, and their shop has been computerized ever since. In 1987, they built their body shop at 369 St. Mary’s Street and made sure it was fully wired. Computerizing a body shop was an innovative undertaking during this time, however after a few years the Unnix computer stopped working. The Alexanders were able to get a professor at UNB to check out their system and learned they had filled the hard drive; they were able to get a larger hard drive installed and get the system running again. They had no idea about hard drives at the time but learned quickly about their importance. In 2001 they switched to a DOS computer system, then in 2005 to a Microsoft system, and now they have a Canadian based software system for their operations.
Dana’s Collision Centre provides a full array of auto body repair services, painting, structural repair, and glass replacement. Dana’s has one of the few frame racks in the City of Fredericton, a $150,000 piece of equipment which allows them to do quality certified structural repair of vehicles, not just cosmetic repairs. They are fully certified in autobody repair for all North American vehicles including Ford, General Motors and Chrysler, as well as Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Subaru and Nissan. This sets Dana’s Collision Centre a part as industry experts as only approximately 10% of automotive repair shops in Canada are certified. The certification programs have ongoing training programs that run throughout the year, some generic and others specific to the manufacturer such as electric car repair. The Alexanders believe in the importance of constant education and training of their staff to ensure Dana’s Collision Centre trained technicians are at the forefront of new techniques and the latest technology.
Dana has continued learning himself, whenever he has had the opportunity. Trade shows and conferences in the USA and Canada provided Dana with contacts and opportunities to learn new techniques and best practices in the auto body industry. In 1987, Dana became the area representative for the Society of Collision Repair Specialists, a California based organization which helped Dana’s Collision Centre grow and learn how to become better. He was one of the founders of the Canadian Collision Industry Forum and was on the advisory board until 2018. Dana was also involved in I-CAR which provides premier collision training, he was active with this organization in both the USA and Canada and sat on both their USA and Canadian board of directors.
The Alexanders attention to detail and focus on their customers has been the motto over the past 44 years. They are trusted by their customers because they not only repair a vehicle, but they also create lasting relationships. Their customers come from all demographics and is a very specialized service; Dana’s Collision Centre is a business that the public hopes they do not need but are glad they are there when they do need them after an accident. Word of mouth and being on the list of preferred vendors for insurance companies are often ways new customers find Dana’s Collision Centre, their existing customers keep returning to Dana’s because they trust the Alexanders and the work they will receive from the Dana’s staff. The Alexanders relationship with their customers is personal which sets them apart in their industry. Although every customer is important, a couple that stand out to Dana were Graydon and Beth Nicholas, who have been customers of Dana’s for many years and have also become lifelong friends.
The Alexanders credit their staff with their success and believe they would not be where they are today without the great staff they have. They employ 1 part time and 19 full time employees. The Alexanders are still working but are looking to the future. Their daughter Shellie, who started working in the business out of high school sweeping floors and cleaning cars, has now taken over the production and office administration sides of the business as the Operations Manager. Dana is focused on the strategic side, looking at what they are doing, training and how they are going to grow. They are proud that they have women working in all areas of their shop including production, painting, estimating and administration.
Dana has worked very hard to help bring immigrants to Canada that can work in his shop. He has been committed to getting CSN – Dana’s Collision Centre certified as a designated employer for immigrants using NB AIP Program. He worked for a year to bring the first worker and their family from Ukraine to Canada. The process involves a great deal of paperwork and patience, but Dana was resolve in the cause. He has since brought a second worker from Ukraine to Canada and is working to bring a technician & his family from Brazil to Fredericton. The immigrant workers and their families’ lives are being changed for the better, and in the case of the Ukrainians, the Alexanders are helping save lives.
They find so much about their business to be rewarding. Especially, knowing that they are being trusted to put someone’s vehicle back the way it should be after an accident, helping existing and new customers, being able to support community events, helping staff reach new heights, and being an industry leader in Canada. Dana is extremely proud of this team and how they grow as technicians. He is also proud that Dana’s Collision Centre was the recipient of the Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business of the Year in both 2006 and 2013, as well as Shop of the Year for CSN in 2018 which is a recognition from his peers.
One of the biggest challenges Dana’s Collision Centre has faced following the pandemic is finding qualified labour and supply chain issues which will be a continued challenge for the foreseeable future. The biggest risk in the industry itself is vehicle technology, which is changing so fast making it harder to keep up. That is why Dana’s Collision Centre is constantly offering training opportunities to their team, so they do not fall behind on new technology like sensors, safety equipment, and computerization.
The Alexanders have always been community minded. They want to give back to the local community because as Dana notes, it is the community that has supported them. Both Carol and Dana have sat on the board of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce, and Dana sat on the board of Business Fredericton North. They support the Red Cross, Jobs Unlimited, the Multicultural Association, Junior Achievement, Boys and Girls Club, the Lions Club, the Y’s Men’s Club, the Kinsmen Club, and numerous local fundraising efforts. The Alexanders support the Chalmers Hospital Foundation’s mission to enhance health and well-being and faithfully donate each year to those fundraising efforts. They participate in the LHHS student co-op and Teen Apprenticeship program, and have supported students with training, part time summer work, as well as exploring an education in trade school.
They are always looking to give back. They have always enjoyed the sport of car racing, one day by chance they met a lady while eating at the Big Stop, they struck up a conversation and racing somehow came up. The lady told them her son, Ryan Messer, who was 15 years old at the time raced cars. Dana gave her his card and asked her to get Ryan to give him a call. Ryan and his family made such an impression on the Alexanders, Dana’s Collision Centre became a sponsor of Ryan’s racing journey. The Alexanders are not just Ryan’s sponsor, they are now friends of his and his family.
Dana and Carol Alexander are exceptional people, who have innovated and impacted their industry, given back humbly to our community, and touched the lives of so many whenever they could.