A Look Back at 2018

2018 was an eventful year for us at St.Claude Autobody. Some of the most meaningful moments of the year were celebrating the 10 year anniversaries of two of our valued employees - Ryan Dacquay and Robert Tetreault.

Robert Tetreault and Ryan Dacquay presented with their 10 Year Anniversary Awards.

Robert Tetreault and Ryan Dacquay presented with their 10 Year Anniversary Awards.

Ryan Dacquay - 10 Year Anniversary

Ryan started working at St.Claude Autobody in the High School Apprenticeship Program. He continued his apprenticeship with us and after 4 years at Red River Community College, he became a Red Seal Journeyman Motor Vehicle Body Repairer (Metal and Paint).

Ryan is now an I-CAR Platinum Individual and is the Tech Team Leader at St.Claude Autobody. He is a huge part of the reason that St.Claude Autobody is able to delivery on customers needs every single day.

Ryan changing a windshield on a customers vehicle in our old shop in February of 2012.

Ryan changing a windshield on a customers vehicle in our old shop in February of 2012.

On March 5th, 2013, a blizzard brought the town of St.Claude to a standstill. Ryan took whatever steps necessary to ensure that he made it in to work!

On March 5th, 2013, a blizzard brought the town of St.Claude to a standstill. Ryan took whatever steps necessary to ensure that he made it in to work!

Robert Tetreault - 10 Year Anniversary

Rob is a retired Sheriff’s Officer that started working at St.Claude Autobody 10 years ago. Rob can often be found driving customers around, or picking up and dropping off their vehicles. Rob is also our official parts runner- making sure all jobs stay on schedule.

Rob is an integral part of our team at St.Claude Autobody and is one of the reasons that we are able to deliver on customer’s needs every single day.

10 Years of Demolition Derbies in St.Claude

10 Years ago, in the spring of 2009, St Claude Autobody was planning to host their very first demolition derby.  


As a kid, I remember going to the old St.Claude fair grounds for the annual fair and demolition derby. Things were much simpler back then; the rules were minimal and the derby ring was simply an area surrounded by old hydro poles. Many remember the event being very popular and it would always attract a large crowd. Over time the old demolition derby faded away, along with the annual fair and baseball tournaments.

Fast forward several years to 2001, where the old fair grounds were being transformed into the beautiful new Mile 60 Park. This was thanks to countless volunteer hours put in by the original park committee members which, today, still include Henri & Doris Tremorin, and Larry Tarko. With the new park came new events, namely the annual St.Claude Celebration, which included a Rodeo and a baseball tournament. 

An aerial view of Mile 60 Park at sunset after the demolition derby in 2016

Gilbert Gauthier as the MC at the demolition derby in 2014

With the revival of the park and the annual events, Norm Bruneau, owner of St Claude Autobody, took this opportunity to revive the local demolition derby.  Norm wanted an event that people could enjoy and have the opportunity to make the same great memories that we have of the old demolition derbies.

Mile 60 Park campgound with 6 electrical sites

2018 will mark the 10th annual St Claude Autobody demolition derby.  Since it's return in 2009, the derby has attracted approximately 700-1100 spectators each year, and has raised approximately $2000-$3000 annually. All money raised has been donated directly to Mile 60 Park.  This event, along with other fundraising initiatives, helped the park committee complete many projects over the years, such as:

  • New bathrooms built in 2010
  • A campground with 6 electrical sites
  • A permanent cooler at the pole shed
  • A new fence at the pole shed

10 years of demolition derbies have attracted drivers from all over the province. It has also given locals a chance to exercise their building and engineering skills, while showcasing a unique set of driving skills required to pilot a demolition derby car.  It has also given some locals the chance to experience the ultimate glory - winning the demolition derby in front of a sold out, home-town crowd.

Chris Laing - 1st Place - Big Car 2011

Ryan Piche - 1st - Small Car 2014

Patrick Dequier - 1st Place - Big Car 2016

"After 10 years, and thousands of combined volunteer hours, we’ve decided to take a step back. Unfortunately, 2018 will be the final year that St.Claude Autobody will host the demolition derby held at the St.Claude Celebration." Explains St Claude Autobody owner Norm Bruneau. "Between our business and growing family, my wife Monique and I won't be able to commit the time required to keep this event running strong moving forward." 

Norm believes that he and his crew have laid the groundwork needed to organize this event, making it possible for someone to take it over. He hopes that another individual or organization will step forward and continue to host this annual event that the community has grown so fond of.

With all of that said – it's not done yet.  Norm and his crew are getting ready to host their 10th Annual Demolition Derby coming up on June 2nd at the St.Claude Celebration, and want to make it the best one yet. They hope you come out and cheer on the drivers, including some locals who might be trying one last time to experience the ultimate glory!

- Tyler R Green

Members of the St.Claude Fire Department and First Responders at the 2011 Demolition Derby

A few of the event volunteers at the 2017 Demolition Derby - R-L: Marc Bruneau, Roland Poirier, Chris Laing, Ron Green, Gilles Rey

A few of the event volunteers at the 2011 Demolition Derby

MPI Updates Hail Estimating Guidelines

NEED TO KNOW: Why This Hailstorm is Different

Within the past month, MPI has changed its approach to the hail repair process.  Paintless Dent Repair (PDR) is now being recognized by MPI as the preferred repair method for hail damage in Manitoba.  PDR ensures efficiency and quality which means customers will have lower wait times, and allows them to maintaining their vehicle's original factory finish. 

Previously, when MPI estimators assessed hail damage, the estimate was written to reflect conventional repairs which included repairing (or replacing) and repainting the damaged panels. Customers then had the option to proceed with conventional repairs or opt for PDR if they desired.  Now, as of June 30, 2017 MPI estimators are writing PDR only estimates, meaning that customers are to take their vehicle to an approved PDR facility (such as St. Claude Autobody), without the option of repairing it conventionally. However, conventional repair methods will still be used in situations where the damage is too severe or if the paint has cracked. 

For many years, St.Claude Autobody has had a strong working relationship with Ken Brick and his crew at Magicmen Paintless Dent Repair. Anyone who attended the Open House for St.Claude Autobody’s new facility in 2014 may remember the PDR demonstration area where Ken showed customers how effective the art of PDR can be – customers watched in amazement as Ken made dents on a car hood literally disappear before their eyes.  Since then, St.Claude Autobody has recognized the growth and importance of PDR, and now has an in house technician capable of completing paintless repairs in addition to their ongoing affiliation with the crew at Magicmen.

Ken Brick of Magicmen Paintless Dent Repair demonstrating the effectiveness of PDR at St.Claude Autobody's Open House

Ken Brick of Magicmen Paintless Dent Repair demonstrating the effectiveness of PDR at St.Claude Autobody's Open House


Making your hail claim

If you've never made a hail claim before, the claim process can be a little confusing and overwhelming. For that reason, we've created this step by step guide to getting the process started.

  1. Call MPI at 1-800-665-2410 and be sure to have your vehicle registration and driver's license handy to save time. All hail claims must be processed through the MPI Call Center at this number and cannot be processed at individual Physical Damage Estimating Centers (i.e. Portage la Prairie, Winkler)
  2. Be patient. With the large amount of hail claims, the Call Center will be flooded with calls.
  3. MPI will gather the necessary information needed to get your claim started. They will set up an appointment for an estimator to look at your vehicle. Be sure to mention to MPI if your vehicle is not safe to drive as this may affect when and where your vehicle will be estimated. Although St. Claude Autobody is a recognized Direct Repair Facility, MPI has not classified hail damage as a loss type that can be estimated at shops. Currently, customers must continue to see an MPI estimators for hail claim estimates. 
  4. Once the estimator has looked at your vehicle, they will let you know if your vehicle is either repairable or a total loss (write off). If it is repairable, you are now free to bring it to any repair facility to get the repairs completed.
  5. Contact St.Claude Autobody to setup a date and time that works for you to have your vehicle's pre-inspection completed at our shop. A pre-inspection assures that no damage is missed as we will inspect your vehicle under ideal conditions. You can contact us by phone (204-379-2253), or quickly fill out our mobile-friendly online form and we will respond to you as soon as possible.


We get that question all the time... fortunately for you, we've used this repair method extensively and know it well. 

But we'll let Ken tell you all about it....


MPI Releases List of Approved Hail Repair (PDR) Facilities in Manitoba

St.Claude Autobody always tries to stay ahead of the game. When PDR started to become more common and desired by both their own customers and MPI, St.Claude Autobody invested in training and tools for an in house technician that was capable of completing paintless repairs. This, combined with their ongoing affiliation with the crew at Magicmen would ensure their inclusion on MPI’s Approved Hail Repair Facilities list when MPI decided to prefer the PDR process.  Click Here to see the list of approved Hail Repair (PDR) Facilities in Manitoba.


St.Claude Autobody is on the leading edge of MPI's new Direct Repair Program

St.Claude Autobody has been working closely with Manitoba Public Insurance on a new program that is designed to make the insurance claim and repair process easier and more efficient for customers.

This new program is known as Direct Repair and is described by MPI on their website as follows:

Direct Repair enables customers with eligible claims to proceed directly to a participating repair shop for a vehicle damage estimate after reporting the claim to MPI, instead of attending an MPI Service or Claim Centre.  Direct Repair streamlines the repair process and can save time by eliminating the need to visit MPI for the first vehicle damage estimate.

St.Claude Autobody has been working for months to ensure that they were on the leading edge of the program and on March 1st, they were one of only a few shops in Manitoba that transitioned seamlessly into the Direct Repair Program.  As of June 1st, MPI has lifted the veil on the program and is allowing shops to advertise their participation in the Direct Repair Program.

The main benefit to the program, as mentioned in the MPI statement above, is that on qualifying claims, customers will now have the option of attending a Direct Repair Facility such as St.Claude Autobody for the initial damage estimate. 

The new claim process will go as follows:

  • Call MPI first to report the claim
  • Obtain an eligible claim number from MPI; and,
  • Call St.Claude Autobody to book an estimate and to arrange for repairs.

After the initial call to MPI to start the claim, the customer will be dealing solely with the Direct Repair facility for the rest of the estimating and repair process.

When St.Claude Autobody designed and built their brand new shop in 2014, a dedicated estimating bay was an essential part of their future plans.

When St.Claude Autobody designed and built their brand new shop in 2014, a dedicated estimating bay was an essential part of their future plans.

Although MPI has only recently introduced the Direct Repair Program, St.Claude Autobody has been operating similarly since 2012, when they started performing pre-inspections on all vehicles with claims for their customers.  This practice still exists today at a larger volume and goes by the acronym ‘ERP’ which stands for ‘Enhanced Repair Planning’. ERP was not common practice back in 2012 and is still only performed by a handful of shops , as it is a completely different approach to writing estimates and completing repairs.  Typically, shops would use the 1st estimate written by the MPI estimator to order the required parts and schedule the customer for repairs. Because the MPI estimator is not allowed to remove anything from the vehicle when writing their estimate, more often than not, hidden damage was only discovered once the vehicle was in the shop for repairs, which unavoidably slows down the repair process. In this scenario, the shop would then need to get approval from MPI for the additional repairs, and would need to wait for the additional parts to arrive before continuing.

With the introduction of the Direct Repair Program, St.Claude Autobody has merged it’s Enhanced Repair Planning with the initial claim estimate appointment to write a thorough estimate the first time and save their customers downtime without their vehicle.  Their process includes scheduling the customer for a 1 hour appointment (depending on the extent of the damage) so that they could take the vehicle apart to capture ALL the damage before bringing the vehicle in for repairs. This way, they could get the necessary approvals and required parts ahead of time, which in turn reduced the amount of time the vehicle was in the shop for repairs.

Repairs completed in St. Claude Autobody's facility, take on average, half the time of repairs completed using the conventional repair process. This saves both MPI and it’s ratepayers money as rental car costs are kept to a minimum. This new and improved process did not go unnoticed by both the customers and MPI. 5 years after St.Claude Autobody started the ERP program, MPI is rolling out the Direct Repair Program, and St.Claude Autobody is hitting the ground running.

St. Claude Autobody Achieves I-Car Gold Class Recognition

St. Claude Autobody Achieves I-Car Gold Class Recognition

St. Claude Autobody continues to reinforce their reputation as a professional and dedicated repair facility as they've reached the high standard of I-CAR's Gold Class.  To date, they are only the 2nd facility in Manitoba (7th across Western Canada) to achieve this enormous goal, which will eventually become mandatory for Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) accreditation.  This achievement is part of their ongoing commitment to staying current with technology, repair techniques and training in an ever changing repair industry.