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  Focus On Scugog - May 2007  
 
May 2007: Martin Jones & Daren Jones of M&R Autobody are fetured in "Focus On Scugog". This article gives a great overview of this local Port Perry area Autobody Shop.
 
Focus on Scogog - Business Beat Martin Jones and his son Daren of M&R Autobody at Manchester M&R has been fixing dents and scrapes for more than 30 years Daren Jones of M&R Autobody - an Oshawa area Autobody shop. Martin Jones, owner of M&R Autobody - talks to Focus on Scugog. Focus on Scugog profiles M&R Autobody
   

13701 Highway #12, Manchester - Ontario - Canada - L9L 1B5
Phone: (905) 985-8592   •   Email: M_RAutobody@hotmail.com
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Martin Jones, owner of M&R Autobody in Manchester never dreamed of being in the movie business, yet for ten years, (he and son, Daren) have rolled our 10 to 12 (vintage) cars per week." Sometimes these cars needed to look perfect while driven in the period television series; other times, they were nothing but hollowed out shells of muscle cars to be blown up, set on fire or dropped over cliffs in feature films.

"They were heady days, when the car might arrive late and a film crew was waiting on set at a cost of $10,000." Martin regales, "But we never kept them waiting!" Movie cars have been a large boon to M&R's business, but Martin wisely kept it to no more than 30% of the work they did. "It was great while it lasted - nine months of the year with a lull during the coldest months when they weren't shooting." Now, he says, they're lucky to push out 10 to 12 cars each year. A downturn in the movie industry in the U.S. as well as the SARS outbreak, slashed Ontario Tax Credits and higher than $0.87 Canadian dollar are to blame for the slide in business.

Born in Ormswirk, a small town 15 miles from Liverpool, England, Martin began working at 14 years of age and paid his way through engineering studies by fixing cars. It was the classic story of making too much money at his part-time job to give it up. He married his wife Jill straight out of school and emigrated 18 months later to Canada where Jill's sister, Joan had already put down roots eight years earlier.
"It took three weeks to find an apartment in Oshawa and three days to get a job," he says. Although he believes it's just as easy to find employment nowadays (given a strong work ethic), Martin does point out that their trade is dying out due to the tight control that insurance companies have on costs. "I always had an apprentice until 15 years ago. Now it's almost impossible to find young people interested in this line of work. And those government programs barely cover the cost of filling out paperwork, let alone buying the tools!"

Martin sites this as one of the reasons that he never expanded, although he had many opportunities to do so. His "word of mouth" advertising methods and "no-wait-list, first come" policy has kept business running at a steady clip all these years. "Not much has changed in Manchester since we located here 30 years ago," says Martin, who celebrated on February 1st by putting his feet up a little more often. "Oh sure, they replaced the deep ditch with a median and the coffee shop at the corner is new, but that first winter we watched the original Haugen's restaurant building come down and the new Haugen's (present building) being built."

With Daren taking on the day-to-day operations and Martin now enjoying the backseat, the time has come to modernize. He plans to use his semi-retirement as "construction foreman and janitor." New computers track colours and the building will be upgraded in preparation for a state-of-the-art spray booth. Both movie cars and customers' vehicles will benefit. A put must be dug under the site of the new booth and the Jones' are planning to work around modifications to the building (12 to 18 months). The manufacturer in Barrie will then deliver the booth for one week of installation and one week of hook-up. "That's a 1.5 million BTU gas heating system to watch paint dry! Most home furnaces are about 150,000 BTUs." Martin went with a Canadian manufacturer for delivery, support and parts. "I could have bought from China for $10,000 less, but then what?"

"Ok, so I ended up here and I don't know quite how," he jokes. "I guess I needed to steer my own ship, but there comes a time when family business means more than just words." So with Daren and four-month old grandson, Austin in Martin's future, both family and business are looking bright.

Story by B. E. Hunt

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