We found a moment with Michael Macaluso, President of CARSTAR for North America, to learn more about his history, thoughts on the industry and future plans.
1. How did you join the CARSTAR team?
Sam Mercanti, founder of CARSTAR Canada, approached me back in 2008 to join the insurance sales team, thinking I would be a good fit. Over a decade later, I am still enjoying my time at CARSTAR, which is a testament to Sam’s incredible judgement.
2. What are the different roles you have held with CARSTAR?
Starting as an Account Manager on the insurance sales team, my responsibility gradually increased before I shifted to the operations team. After spending some time in operations and holding various roles there, I became President of CARSTAR for Canada and ultimately became the President for CARSTAR North America in 2015.
3. What is it like being President of CARSTAR?
I can describe it in two words, challenging and rewarding. Every day brings a new challenge and new opportunity to impact someone or something in a positive way. It is very rewarding helping businesses grow and seeing our franchise partners succeed. We have a great culture and our business is all about people, so having an amazing team within CARSTAR makes it especially rewarding.
4. What is your favourite thing about CARSTAR?
What I like most about CARSTAR is the pace and the people. It seems like the pace is only getting faster and the speed of change within the industry forces us to be more agile – which is really energizing. The people are of course, amazing, and like I always say are why I do what I do.
5. Why do you refer to CARSTAR as a family?
CARSTAR is a family of family business. I will never forget our humble beginnings in Overland Park and Hamilton, which was a much smaller family. The whole concept of CARSTAR at the time was to help people, which is still our commitment to this day and why we have been able to grow into the position that we are in today. Ultimately, that is what family is all about and here at CARSTAR we help each other out, learn from one another and grow together.
6. What is the most challenging part of your role?
Staying focused on our clear objectives. It is very easy in this industry to get distracted. But staying laser focused on our core goals is so important for all of our partners. We have a responsibility to deliver for our franchise, insurance and vendor partners; and that balance isn’t always easy.
7. What are you looking forward to most for CARSTAR?
Scale. I want to have 1,000 stores in a very short period of time. As we perform better operationally and grow our business with the right franchise partners, our scale will unlock massive opportunity and new potential for our network, partners and customers.
8. How would you define the collision repair industry right now?
I would define the industry now as going through a period of change. Vehicles are advancing at such a rapid rate, effecting how they need to repaired to ensure they get back to pre-collision condition. With change, comes both challenges and opportunities. Spending the bulk of our time capitalizing on opportunities while addressing our challenges is how CARSTAR will thrive during this time of industry transformation.
9. Where do you think the collision repair industry is going?
Within the collision repair industry, we have to sort through labour shortages, profitability for all stakeholders and responses to the complexity of modern repairs. Every industry has its own challenges, but those who face them head on succeed through times of uncertainty. I am optimistic about where the collision repair industry is going. We are seeing new leaders emerge that have original ideas to combat longstanding challenges, seeing more processes implemented that directly improve performance and are welcoming those into the industry with a unique backgrounds in alternative fields like science, technology, engineering or math. There is a lot of opportunity within our industry, and we anticipate it being like this for the foreseeable future
10. How do you like to spend your free time?
Balance is key for busy people, so I work hard to make sure I have a sufficient amount of free time. We have to ensure we balance in mind, body and spirit. I work out every morning, to kick my day off on the right foot. I am very active in sports and enjoy spending time with my family, friends and especially my wife and three young sons – Matteo (age 6), Marcello (age 4) and Marco (age 3). Our days typically involve bringing one of our kids to hockey, soccer, a sporting event or just spending time together.