The Next Chapter for Calgary’s CMD Group
The Next Chapter for Calgary’s CMD Group
CARSTAR has become North America’s trusted source for high-quality collision repairs and excellence in customer experience. This is because it is comprised of hardworking, locally owned and operated businesses. One Calgary, Alberta ownership team, known as the CMD Group, has helped contribute to this legacy. However, after over 16 years with the CARSTAR family, the CMD Group made up of Chris Stathonikos, his son Matthew Stathonikos and their friend Dave Stretz, have decided to retire, selling their business to fellow CARSTAR owner, Shane Daerden.
From the moment Chris Stathonikos started working at a body shop back in Greece at aged 15, he knew he wanted to own a facility. After immigrating to Canada in 1974, Chris was able to purchase a building and own his collision repair centre. However, one thing he did not expect was his son Matthew to take to the business as he did.
“It was funny when I graduated high school my dad asked, me to come and work with him,” recalls Matthew Stathonikos. “I thought wow this is a dirty job, I don’t know if I want to get into this field – but then I learned there was much more to it.”
Working as an estimator, creating excellent customer experiences and having an eye on the operations quickly became Matthew’s forte. For years, Matthew worked alongside his father, learning everything he knew about the business from Chris. Matthew also attended Mount Royal College to study business administration as well as SAIT for estimating, further honing his skills.
It was in 1999 when the duo decided to join CARSTAR.
“I just knew where the industry was going,” comments Chris Stathonikos. “Vehicles were modernizing, the industry was consolidating and I still wanted to have a thriving business. It was a pivotal moment in our lives and I am so thankful we joined CARSTAR.”
Nervous about what this new decision would mean for their team, Matthew embarked on his mandatory trip to the CARSTAR head office in Hamilton, Ontario for new-store orientation.
“This was my first initiation into CARSTAR and right off the bat I felt welcomed and excited to be a part of this new team,” recalled Matthew. “I will never forget that trip because it was from this point forward I built some amazing memories. Whether it was with the corporate team or other CARSTAR owners, I had a blast hanging out with our CARSTAR family, enjoying special events like the Calgary Stampede, attending zone meetings and of course going to our incredible annual conferences.”
Dave Stretz shares in that sentiment with Matthew, looking back at his early days with CARSTAR.
“I’ve been in the automotive industry for 42 years, but didn’t join the CARSTAR team until 2001, where I managed its Calgary corporate facility,” says Dave. “It has always had that family feel. I have always enjoyed working and socializing with my CARSTAR friends, which started back in 2001 with my first corporate retreat where I met Frank Sottile, Wayne Minogue, Bruce Hemstreet, Lillian Haskett and Dave Meery. After I became an owner it was always, the annual CARSTAR conferences I looked forward to most. My wife Pat and I still remember our first conference in Mount Tremblant where we enjoyed white water rafting and a maple syrup themed evening.”
Although he was hesitant to become an owner, confessing he was not a born entrepreneur, Dave felt it was the right fit to become partners with Chris and Matthew in 2004 as they joined together to become the CMD Group.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t partnered with Chris and Matthew,” continues Dave. “When you’re an owner, you can’t quit, so having partners by your side to help you get through the tough times makes you even more grateful for your successes.”
The group did experience great success, becoming one of the largest multi-store owners in the CARSTAR network, with seven facilities in the greater Calgary area.
“Although we built an amazing business, I am excited to retire, not think about cars every day and enjoy my summers in Greece,” says Chris. “After all this time though, it is the people that I will miss the most. I hope to stay in touch with all of the friends I have made over the years.”
Dave agrees, citing that saying goodbye to his team as the most emotional part of this experience.
“I am excited to sell our business and enjoy retirement,” comments Dave. “But visiting every store last week to say goodbye to each of the employees was a day filled with mixed emotions.”
Similar to his partners, Dave introduced his son Joel to the collision repair business and since Joel is only 31, Dave is eager to see what his future has in store.
“We took our business as far as we could and Shane has a vision to make it even bigger and better, which is encouraging to see,” says Dave. “I am excited to proudly watch Joel from the sidelines in his new journey and I look forward to enjoying retirement, spending some time at our summer place on Sylvan Lake and relaxing.”
Unlike his partners, Matthew has not yet contemplated retirement.
“This industry is tough and it’s changing now more than ever,” says Matthew. “I still think CARSTAR is the best brand as well as an industry leader and I look forward to seeing everything that we have built continue to flourish. However, for now, I am most excited to just take a break and enjoy the time off with my family, before I decide my next move.”
Please join us in congratulating Chris, Matthew and Dave for all they have achieved over the years. The CARSTAR family wishes you all nothing but the best in your next chapter!