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July 18, 2019

CARSTAR Acceleration 2019 Celebrated 30th Anniversary, Honored Top Franchise Partners, Provided Motivating and Informative Sessions and Inspired Donations of more than $100,000 for the Fight against Cystic Fibrosis

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As the CARSTAR Acceleration 2019 Conference in Chicago closed on Friday night, the franchise partners were ready to take the theme to heart, return to their CARSTAR collision repair facilities and apply their learnings to drive their business in the year ahead.

With goals of reaching more than $2 billion in sales and more than 1,100 collision repair locations across the continent by 2021, CARSTAR, North America’s premier network of independently owned collision repair facilities, shared an aggressive growth strategy with its franchise partners, insurance carriers and vendor partners during the conference.

“We embarked on a strategic growth plan with our franchise partners several years ago, and we have worked together in lockstep to deliver the highest-quality collision repairs, provide excellent customer service and give back to the communities we serve,” said Michael Macaluso, president of CARSTAR.  “That collective commitment to our performance has driven our network’s growth with more than 100 new locations in the past 12 months, expansion of our insurance relationships, strong same-store sales and increased profitability for our franchise partners.”

The CARSTAR Acceleration 2019 conference opened on Wednesday with awards for the top cystic fibrosis fundraisers in the CARSTAR network, presented by Cystic Fibrosis Canada and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Then, more than 300 participants donned CARSTAR colors as they took to the streets and parks of Chicago for the “Soul Stroll” to share the message about supporting the cystic fibrosis (CF) cause. The event included a scenic stroll by Grant Park, along the shores of Lake Michigan. For photos and a complete list of the cystic fibrosis fundraiser award winners, visit here.

Macaluso officially opened the event with an address to the gathered audience on Wednesday afternoon, sharing the vision, goals and path to success for the organization. He then moderated a Q&A with CARSTAR founder Lirel Holt and Canadian master franchisor Sam Mercanti about their journey building CARSTAR over the past 30 years.

Following the tour of CARSTAR history, Macaluso announced the 2019 CARSTAR franchise partners of the year. Jamie White, a franchise partner for almost 10 years and owner of CARSTAR Dalton South and CARSTAR Ken’s North, took home the U.S. honors while Paul Cross, owner of CARSTAR Lindsay, CARSTAR Haliburton and CARSTAR Bancroft, was honored for his accomplishments in Canada.

The evening closed with a special trip to iconic Wrigley Field – home of the Chicago Cubs – where conference guests had an opportunity to enjoy local specialities like Chicago-style hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches, with opportunities to tour the stadium, hit some homers in the batting cages and meet Cubs stars Ryan Sandberg and Lee Smith.

Throughout the event, keynote speakers shared presentations on industry trends, new approaches to customer connections and new business opportunities on the horizon with the assembled group of more than 1,100 people. Key speakers included:


  • Hod Lipson, Professor of Engineering & Data Science

  • Jay Baer, founder of Convince & Convert Consulting

  • Sean Carey, SCG Management Consultants LLC

  • Jason Verlen, SVP of Product Strategy & Product Management, CCC


CARSTAR corporate team members from Operations, Insurance, Development, Marketing and Procurement shared the success stories of the past year and outlined the initiatives for the year ahead.  And for the first time, CARSTAR hosted an OEM panel of representatives of the top automakers to discuss the role of OEM certifications and OEM-directed repairs in the future. Breakout sessions each afternoon provided franchise partners opportunities for more in-depth sessions on insurance programs, advanced technology, certifications, operational performance, customer service and more.

There was also an opportunity for CARSTAR’s vendor partners to showcase new products, services and solutions they are offering as part of CARSTAR’s robust procurement program, which provides industry-leading cost savings and rebates, all powered by Driven Brands’ buying power.  More than 60 companies exhibited at the CARSTAR Vendor Expo, giving each vendor significant exposure to the CARSTAR network.

The annual CARSTAR Dinner and Awards Gala took place Friday evening, complete with a Chicago Roaring 20’s theme, where conference guests donned in their best flapper dresses and zoot suits.  There, they named the additional top performers in the CARSTAR system and recognized the CARSTAR franchise partners for their years of service. CARSTAR locations from across the U.S. and Canada were honored at the event.

CARSTAR closed the evening with dueling pianos and impassioned effort among franchise owners and vendor partners to inspire additional contributions for cystic fibrosis research, care and advocacy. Going into the final evening, more than $30,000 was raised from the Soul Stroll walk for cystic fibrosis, sock sales with proceeds going to CF and the vendor trade show game which included an arcade style basketball game. At the final gala, franchise partners, vendors and corporate staff all rallied again to present a donation in order to get their song played on the duelling pianos.

Notable donations came from:

  • Akzo Nobel

  • Progi

  • Intercorp

  • CARSTAR Quebec Group of stores

  • CARSTAR St. Louis Business Group

  • CARSTAR Colorado Business Group

  • The MacKay and Kember families in Atlantic Canada

  • The Mercanti family

  • CARSTAR London East and West

  • CARSTAR Thunder Bay

  • CARSTAR Strathroy and CARSTAR St. Thomas

  • CARSTAR Quality Assured - Terminal

  • CARSTAR’s corporate development team

  • Driven Brands


Final donations came from the Greater Toronto Area stores, who excitedly donated while celebrating the fact that Toronto was announced as the host city for CARSTAR’s 2020 conference.

“I have never been more proud to be a part of the CARSTAR family and to be working for this outstanding network of franchise partners,” said Macaluso. “We, together as our entire network, truly embodied the spirit of acceleration, from everyone’s commitment to building their businesses and driving the overall CARSTAR goals to their passion for supporting cystic fibrosis and our dream of helping find a cure for cystic fibrosis by 2021. It was a tremendous conference – certainly befitting of our 30th anniversary – and I believe everyone departed ready to grow and succeed in the next 30 years.”