Success Stories

The Backyard and Beyond - Paintshop Thrives

It's been over seven year since Winkler's Peter Bergen started doing autobody work on the side and he has seen it evolve into a thriving repair and painting business that just keeps on growing -- Berg's Prep and Paint.

"Through a lot of hard work and dedication from myself and my employees over a number of years, this business went from a back yard operation to a modern and growing enterprise," said Bergen.

In 1995 Bergen began working in his father's back yard shop on small autobody jobs for friends and neighbors. This began as an evening and weekend business, but soon grew to demand more of his time and a larger shop was needed.

By 1998 another building was available for rent in nearby Reinfeld. Bergen began to hire more staff and the business flourished. Other services besides autobody work were added, such as custom sandblasting and painting for a nearby foundry. The facility once again became too small to accommodate the volume of work that was to be done. Overcrowding in the shop was frustrating the staff and the waiting list for the customers was too long.

In 2001 a third shop was available for rent in Winkler. A paint line was assembled and production volumes increased but so was the demand for his services. Larger pieces of equipment were coming in for work and the facility was once again overcrowded and the staff was working in poor conditions. These buildings were a couple of miles apart in these neighboring communities and there was an efficiency problem. Bergen was not benefiting from the economies of scale.

So he turned to Community Futures Heartland for assistance.

"In terms of financing, I couldn't have accomplished this project without the support of Heartland and I am thankful for that," he said.

Heartland provided funding toward the 2001 construction of a completely new facility, which measure over 13,000 square feet.

"The new building meets all codes and standards for employee safety and air quality," he said. It also includes a state-of-the-art paint booth and sandblasting building. In all, the new facility is over 13,000 square feet.

Better painting and sand blasting booths will ensure the quality of the work is maintained and will boost the production capability of the business.

"The staff is benefiting from this new building as the work flows through easier and they aren't as frustrated by moving things many times around the shop before it is completed," Bergen added.

Two extra staff have started since the business moved into the new facility bringing the total number employed to 12. Bergen hopes to add one or two more jobs over the next 12-18 months.

The new facility has allowed the volume of work to flow through the shop smoother than before. The increase in business remained on track at approximately 17-20 per cent in 2002 and Bergen is optimistic that an increase of 20 per cent could be realized in 2003.

Bergen feels he has been well received by the City of Winkler, with his new addition to their industrial park.