ATL Automotive Group launched a new US$3-million state-of-the-art body shop facility in Bougue, St James, on Wednesday.
Minister of Transport and Mining Audley Shaw, in his remarks, noted that the ATL Group can be seen as a beacon and a source of inspiration to the potential of Jamaica achieving excellence.
Arguing that, while Singapore's per capita income is close to US$70,000 in comparison to Jamaica's less than US$6,000, it is not late for Jamaica to catch up, and ATL is capable of leading the way.
“We have a lot of catching up to do and the ATL group of companies can be held up as a beacon and a source of inspiration to say it is better late than never, we can still achieve excellence in Jamaica,” said Shaw.
Shaw also had high praise for the late chairman of the ATL Group Gordon “Butch” Stewart, who started the company in 1968.
The minister said that Stewart, who died in January last year, has pursued and left behind a trail of excellence, and his son Adam and the rest of the family are capable and have demonstrated an intent to move things to a higher level of achievement.
“So, I say to you, continue climbing to new heights and be a source of inspiration to all Jamaicans that we can achieve excellence. Those of us who have tried and failed, remember, if at first you don't succeed, try and try again,” Shaw encouraged.
For his part, Adam Stewart, who is executive chairman of the group, said Wednesday's monumental opening of the entity was the first since his father's passing.
Stewart said the automotive industry is one of the most advanced and sophisticated industries on Earth, “and our job here [ATL Automotive] is that when you have a situation, whether it is a modification to your car, a fender bender, or an absolute accident, topically, what we are doing is that we are taking off your bumper… This facility is a facility to mend your existing bumper [via] plastic welding. They will walk you through the technology that we are putting there, ultimately to bring your automobile back to its factory specs at the most affordable price,” Stewart said.
“Everything in the automotive industry has been a dream come true. I realised that in my old age I love hospitality, that I love cars, mobility and experiences, and my family has allowed me to stand at the forefront of the company and invest in each and every one of these things. When I talk to younger leaders and up-and-coming generations, I would say to them, do everything possible between the age of 20 and 30 to figure out your superpower and gift. I was given that ability,” encouraged Stewart, who is chairman of Sandals Resorts International (SRI).
Stewart argued that ATL Automotive is not just the largest in the sales and servicing of cars, but the number one in Jamaica for customer experience.
Besides, the group kept all its staff across the Caribbean during the novel coronavirus pandemic while acquiring four additional hotels – two of which are in Jamaica — and the creation of the Bodyworks in Bogue, St James.
“So, when others retreated, when others got nervous, and when others did not put their money where their mouth is, we stood strong, forward, and I have no doubt that my team and I are going to do an incredible job of making sure that we can continue to service our customers,” stated Stewart.
Meanwhile, the new facility, anticipated to be the finest in the Caribbean, branded ATL Bodyworks, is expected to bring extensive economic growth to Western Jamaica and a world-class, one-stop-body shop experience for local motorists.
The ATL Bodyworks will feature the very latest in 'next generation' automotive repair technology and training from the world's leading body shop equipment brands. Innovations include state-of-the art paint and 'prep' booths, full-body alignment, as well as high-tech welding equipment, allowing for the repair of metal and plastic parts of vehicles such as body panels, lights, and bumpers that otherwise would need to be completely replaced.
Furthermore, ATL Bodyworks is embarking on a partnership with The Paint Shop to open an on-site paint-mixing facility with a highly trained colourist – the first of its kind in the region.
To ensure that the highest standards are maintained, both now and in the future, ATL Bodyworks has recruited a dedicated technical body shop trainer to work hand in hand with Jamaica-based training and educational entities such as the Jamaican-German Automotive School (JAGAS) and the HEART/NSTA Trust. The programme will give several local apprentices the opportunity to work and learn alongside some of the best-trained technicians in the field, who will also operate as mentors to provide training and future employment to local tradesmen.
The construction of the facility also brought much-needed job creation to the west, with over 150 local personnel employed during the construction phase and a further 20 highly trained personnel to the ATL Automotive Group.