The year that was and the year to come. Can anyone imagine a more incredible and challenging time?
First Quarter 2020 was a record quarter of revenue and earnings for most collision repairers across North America. Universally, operators were expecting the best was yet to come.
The COVID virus was a page 12 concern, not front and center of every media outlet across the world. No one, except some scientists, expected it would seriously impact the country or our industry.
As the First Quarter of 2021 rolls out, everyone is more sober about risks, far more realistic and far more experienced at dealing with uncertainty. Questions continue to swirl.
Will statewide shutdowns continue? Will vaccines roll out faster or slower? When will traffic start to ramp back up as communities unlock commerce, schools and socializing? Will the latest PPP loans help businesses survive until commerce returns to a more normal level? Will the next gut punch be a recession?
There are no certain answers, but the collision repair industry has proven resilient in the face of dramatic change many times in the last two decades---multiple recessions, consolidation of shops and insurance companies, the impacts of ADAS, technician shortages, to name just a few. The industry should expect 2021 to surprise us again in unforeseen ways.
Now to look back at what happened in 2020.
Consolidators Roll On
Two of the three largest consolidators continued to acquire, grow and build new locations across most of their existing markets, as well as entering new ones. Only Service King slackened its pace, contending with shutdowns, shop closures and debt issues.
Despite some temporary adjustments, reductions in rents to landlords and staff terminations, Caliber continued to grow its footprint, ending 2020 with...