January 15th, 2021

Auto industry adapts to COVID-19

By Lethbridge Herald on April 12, 2020.

Herald photo by Ian Martens - Austen Radowits performs an oil change on a customer's vehicle this week at Big Al's Auto Repair, as mechanic shops work to adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic. @IMartensHerald

Al Beeber
Lethbridge Herald
COVID-19 is taking its toll on the automotive repair industry with companies changing the way they conduct business for the safety of staff and customers.
Several auto repair shops contacted by The Herald have modified their practices since the crisis hit.
Thomas Radiators of Lethbridge is trying to focus entirely on commercial work to keep the supply chain moving.
A spokesman said that operation is concentrating on the needs of commercial trucking and farming operations as the COVID-19 situation progresses.
In business here since 1953, Thomas specializes in radiators for big rigs as well as industrial and agricultural purposes.
Shawn Hammond of Big Al’s Auto Repair said his company’s employees wear gloves on the job and occasionally masks. Staff are regularly sanitizing the premises to ensure their safety and the safety of customers.
“We’ve always tried to be compassionate to our people,” Hammond said last week.
Hammond, who bought the business eight years ago, said he is encouraging people to stay home.
“We want them to be safe. We know we’re going to be slow for awhile but if they need us, we’re here. We’ll get through this,” said Hammond.
Hammond, like other shop operators, has seen a decrease in business coming through the door and now is the season when drivers would normally be switching from winter back to summer tires.
Alan Marsh, operator of the downtown Fountain Tire location, said his staff has gloves available for customers when using the debit machine and for electronically signing receipts after they’ve paid. The shop has instituted social distancing measures for customers and are trying to keep them out of the actual building as much as possible.
“We’re trying to be as safe as we can.”
Like other shops, it is sanitizing keys and steering wheels to help ensure safety.
At Subaru of Lethbridge, only one customer is allowed in the service area at one time. Everyone entering the dealership first has to use hand sanitizer just inside the front door.
“The technicians in back are all spread out,” said dealer principal Luke Davis.
Like other shops, Subaru has a drop box for customer keys, which are sanitized by staff.
The entire Davis Auto Group, of which Subaru of Lethbridge is a member, has instituted a comprehensive safety program which includes regular deep cleaning and disinfecting at all dealerships, whose staff will pick up vehicles at customer homes for servicing.
Lethbridge Hyundai also does a pickup and delivery service and employs a sanitizing procedure before staff work on vehicles.
Service advisers ask customers if they are healthy when they come to the dealership.
“We’re not putting anyone at risk,” said Shane Mazutinec of Lethbridge Hyundai.
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