When anyone has a technical question for No. 1 Collision regarding any piece of equipment from a car rack all the way to a paint booth, they ask Facilities and Equipment Manager Milford Cumberland is the person to ask. At the age of 66, he is the old wise man that holds the cards and is the information gatekeeper on every facility, as well as all of its training, tools and equipment.
One of Cumberland’s job at No. 1 is overseeing the acquisition, installation and ongoing maintenance for 18 USI Italia booths. It’s an enormous investment that keeps paying for itself over and over again, and as a result, Cumberland is likely North America’s #1 expert about these Italian-made high-end spray booths.
The No. 1 Collision Centre in Richmond, British Columbia invested $19 million in an impressive 70,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art location on two acres that is over the top in every way. “We call our facilities the superstars of the industry and our largest one definitely has that ‘wow’ factor,” Cumberland said. “Other shops and many of the OEMs request tours of this shop all the time and fly here from the U.S. and Europe just to see what we’re doing. When they see a dozen USI Chronotechs here set up side-by-side and full of high-end luxury vehicles, they are impressed, no doubt.”
If you walked into any of the No. 1 Collision locations, you’d find primarily Teslas, Land Rovers, Jaguars, Porsches, Mercedes-Benzes, Audis, Volkswagens, MINIs, Ferraris, Maseratis and even a few Rolls Royces being repaired. Certified to work on this impressive assemblage of 10 OE certifications, No. 1 Collision works hard to stay current with the training and equipment required to make this list.
CEO Rob Walker and his brother COO Scott purchased a shop in 1993 and today No. 1 Collision repairs a total of more than 1,0000 cars every month. The Walker Group of Companies have built an impressive business that includes four collision centers in Canada and one in the U.S.
This MSO has invested approximately $1 million in its USI booths after acquiring their first one in 2009. When it comes to acquiring any tools, equipment or training, Walker isn’t afraid to pay for value,
“We learned rather quickly that trying to cut costs isn’t the best way to go,” Rob Walker said. When we started looking at paint booths, we realized that the European ones were superior and that USI was the best. Our Chronotechs are like BMWs while some of the others are more like KIAs. We will never buy another type of paint booth, because these have proven to be superior across the board. The technology is unmatched with incredible lighting, better air movement and sturdy construction.”
Cumberland agrees with Walker and is more than willing to expound on the capabilities and advantages of using USI booths, he said. “We are very impressed with the USI direct drive system and their powerful motors, and everything is tunable on-site. Some paint booths contain cheap components and in the end they’re nothing more than just cargo boxes with lights. A great booth is something you can install and then not worry about it for 20 years and that’s what we have with USI.”
Whenever he purchases anything, Cumberland makes certain that the support that is both accessible and accountable. “We made sure that the support from USI was going to be strong, and that was one of the many things we considered before acquiring the booths,” he said. “At the very beginning, all of the USI people gave me their phone numbers, which has turned out to be a real blessing. They’re very responsive and you can tell they love what they’re doing. When I call them, especially their tech people, they are more than willing to answer all of our questions. We can’t afford to be down at any time if we want to maintain our reputation. I tell people the sign says No. 1, not No. 2.”
“I always tell people that to succeed in this industry, you should never skimp on things such as air compressors and paint booths,” Cumberland said. “We’ve been very fortunate with USI and now they’re an integral part of everything we do here.”
When it comes to maintenance and upkeep, Cumberland has a huge calendar that tells him what to replace and when with every USI booth. “With 18 of these babies, we have to stay on top of it, so that they will perform at a high level all the time. With USI, we don’t have to replace the filters or the intake and exhaust cubes as frequently as we would with another brand, which gives us another advantage over the competition.”