A small company was born from big ideas – and big vehicles. For the past 40 years, BRC Group has repaired, refurbished and refinished the biggest vehicles on the road. Founded as Big Rig Collision in 1979, the regional company has embraced the “big,” growing into an industry leader across North America as the go-to company for commercial vehicle collision repair and refurbishment.
“We’re very diverse in the product lines we work on,” says Brad Field, owner and president of BRC Group. “We work on all heavy equipment, including highway tractors, motor-coaches, transit buses, oilfield equipment, recreational vehicles and everything in between.”
The personnel are as diverse as the vehicles hauled into the shop. As BRC works on any vehicle larger than one tonne that has been damaged in a collision or fire, the technicians tasked with repairing the damage need to have diverse skill sets as well. A job may require in-house frame straightening, mechanical services, electronics repair, fire restoration, interior upholstery, graphics and signage. The professionals at BRC possess overlapping skills allowing them to address the complex and multiple issues resulting from the damage sustained. Being proficient in house ensures the quickest possible turnaround for units while maintaining the high-quality work for which BRC Group is known.
After all, most of the units coming through BRC are revenue-producing pieces of equipment. Downtime is not an option. The longer units are sidelined, the more money BRC’s clients are losing, so Field and his team strive to get those vehicles on the road and back to work as quickly as possible.
“Depending on parts availability from the manufacturer and the size of the project, we can turn equipment around in days,” he says.
Everything is done on site at the impressive southeast Calgary facility. With a 55,000-square-foot building on five acres of land, BRC can handle any project clients throw at them. In fact, Field welcomes the challenge of something untried and is open to tackling new and exciting opportunities. In the beginning, Big Rig Collision worked solely on transport equipment and highway tractors and as opportunities arose, the company organically evolved into other industries.
As a 25-year vendor with the City of Calgary, BRC Group has worked on city fleet services and transportation vehicles including LRT cars. Undertaking a different challenge, the company recently refurbished glacier ice-field snow coaches, further expanding their already diverse product line.
“There really isn’t anything we won’t work on. If we haven’t before we’ll give it a go. Being open minded to trying new things led to all of these new ventures,” Field says.
New ventures have also resulted from the solid reputation BRC Group has in the industry. In this niche market comprised of only about eight major players, word of mouth carries weight and customers have nothing but good things to say about BRC. The proof is in the long list of loyal customers who bypass the competition, shipping units all the way to Calgary for repair or refurbishment.
Clients from as far away as the Hawaiian Islands, Mexico, Alabama, North Carolina and Ohio (and as close to home as Jasper, Edmonton and British Columbia) send their units to BRC because they know Field and his team will provide incredible customer service and unparalleled quality, delivering on their promise to get the equipment back to its pre-collision state quickly and professionally. With a lifetime warranty on the work, customers know the job will be done well. They also know BRC is easy to work with which eliminates some of the stress involved in a major accident repair.
“Our population is one-tenth that of the U.S., so we have to really work hard in Canada to earn and keep customers. As managers and owners in Canada, we must perform at a higher level than our U.S. counterparts; we have to work that much harder,” Field says.
It is that motivation to attract and retain clients that has created the long-term relationships the company enjoys with many customers across North America. BRC appreciates every piece of business and goes above and beyond to ensure that appreciation is reflected in the friendly service and quality product produced. Field takes care of everything, handling the logistics of transportation and scheduling so the client doesn’t have to think about it. BRC takes pride in every project and stands behind the work it does. If something fails, regardless of when or how, BRC will either send a technician to the client to fix it or reimburse the cost of having the issue repaired locally – no questions asked.
“Clients say they have to fight with everybody else to get things taken care of. We aren’t everybody else,” says Field. “I win over more customers by how we handle our warranty claim process.”
Listening to customers wins them over too. For years, clients in California and other western states have inquired about BRC opening a U.S. location, having sent their heavy collision and fire jobs to Canada but not being able to justify the cost of shipping their smaller jobs the distance. They wanted BRC’s quality product closer to home and in 2010, BRC answered the call – opening a 50,000-square-foot BRC Coach & Transit in Las Vegas, Nevada to accommodate American clients’ smaller repair needs.
“Typically, on larger projects the transportation cost isn’t really a factor, but when you’re talking a smaller project – the return on investment regarding transportation costs can be a challenge so we opened Las Vegas and it has been doing well,” he says.
BRC Group has succeeded in building a brand clients want. Field has spent his career redefining the industry and, in the process, has made BRC the benchmark. At first glance, the industry is dirty, with big heavy equipment but BRC has changed those optics. The Calgary headquarters is stylish and welcoming, the shop is clean and orderly, and the technicians are friendly and professional.
“We’ve broken out of that mould and said we can do better, we can look better, we can act better, we can produce better-quality work. We don’t have to fit that standard that everybody else sets for us,” Field says.
The 50 professionals in the Calgary office and 25 in Las Vegas are all behind Field’s vision. Many of his staff have been with him for years and continue to work hard to maintain the high standards they are all proud to set within the industry. As BRC Group marks its 40-year milestone, Brad Field and his team are excited to meet the future much as they always have – by delivering on their promises, being consistent in their values, and supporting each other so they can continue to raise the bar in the industry. Like many, BRC has experienced the boom and bust Alberta economy over the past four decades and while it has felt the bite of the most recent recession, it remains strong.
Field also continues to be community-minded, determined to give back as much as he has received. He sits on various charitable boards including Business Fore Calgary Kids supporting local children’s charities and the Terminator Foundation in support of youth recovering from drug and alcohol addiction through the sport of triathlon. He has also mentored young CEOs and meets with city officials to help promote economic efficiencies.
BRC Group has spent the past 40 years building relationships, improving the industry and the community around it, while growing into a leading commercial vehicle repair and refurbishment centre. The secret to the company’s longevity is simple yet elusive in the industry and is what has made BRC Group such a success.
“We show up. We smile, even when we’re talking to customers on the phone. We treat customers with respect and appreciate their business. We’re not perfect and when we screw up, we fix it. That’s it,” Brad Field says.
And given the growth and reputation of BRC Group across North America, that’s enough.