First NOVUS Glass in Nova Scotia opens its doors to the heart of Hants County – with expansion plans down the roadBy Kristen Lipscombe
For NOVUS Glass in Elmsdale, Nova Scotia, people always come first.
“That’s what drives us,” manager Bill Conrod said during the shop’s July open house, as new customers and staff members alike mingled to celebrate the freshly minted shop nestled in the heart of Hants County.
“We want to be people’s first choice for glass and automotive accessories, and we can’t do that unless we provide exceptional customer service,” Conrod told Auto and Trucking Atlantic on site, lead technician Tyson Marshall at his side. “We have really high standards as far as what we want to do for windshield repair, and if it’s not to our satisfaction we won’t charge you.”
That was the case for a recent customer, who the NOVUS team members credited with a windshield replacement because they weren’t satisfied with the repair job at the end of the day. After all, “glass is a big part of the structure integral if your car, so there are safety concerns.”
Windshields also pose an environmental risk, he pointed out, as the glass isn’t recyclable and ends up in landfills.
“We’re one of the few companies that will actually attempt crack repairs and the reason for that is we are a global franchise,” Conrod explained.
“We have our own chemist on staff that actually develops resins that are unique to the Canadian climate, so we’re able to do crack repairs that other glass companies may not even bother to attempt, so the motto is that we want to try to repair first and replace second.”
Windshield repair over replacement also saves customers and insurance companies money, so that philosophy, like the company’s focus on people, just makes sense. All of the new location’s technicians went through extensive training at NOVUS Glass Canada, the company’s headquarters in Milton, Ont., in order to get certified before the shop first opened its doors to customers in March, Conrod said, adding that certification has to be updated regularly.
“It’s an ongoing process, the certification,” he said. “They’ll come back on an annual basis and recertify us because there’s always new developing technology.”
From windshields to sunroofs, and anything in between, the staff on site at NOVUS Glass Elmsdale are ready to help fix customers up right. Or, if customers would prefer, the franchise has a mobile van they can drive out to homes to make repair and replacement even more convenient.
This particular NOVUS shop isn’t just about glass, though, with services including inspections, headlight installation, and “all the accessories you can imagine for your car,” with more expected to be offered in the near future.
“It’s kind of a nice fit because if someone comes in for a glass repair, they’re likely going to need wiper blades,” Conrod said as an example. “We’re dealing specially with glass… but we can do anything related to automotive.”
He also pointed out that “a lot of your active safety systems are built into the windshield now. So, it’s not just replacing the windshield, in a lot of cases calibration is required, and that’s a big part of the structural integrity of the car.”That’s why it was so important that owner Andrew MacDonald recruit only the best to get the NOVUS Glass franchise up and running, which is why he secured staff members like Conrod, who has 35 years in the automotive industry under his belt, and Marshall, who has clocked in more than a decade and a half in his own successful career. “We’re really fortunate to have a really strong staff,” Conrod said.
NOVUS Glass plans to keep adding to its rosters of professional excellence to help create “a legacy piece” by hiring good people from the area. “We’re definitely part of the community now, and we want to hire young folks and give them a career path. We don’t just have NOVUS, we have other avenues where they can develop.”
MacDonald owns a suite of automotive businesses that fall under the reliability and dependability of the Fix Auto brand, including several auto and repair shops across the province, so there’s plenty of room for staff members to move up and around.
“We’re starting here with NOVUS in Elmsdale, but we’d like to pursue opening up another two stores as well,” Conrod said.
The vision for Elmsdale Industrial Park is to create a complex that meets all of the automotive needs of customers along the corridor between Dartmouth and Truro.
Staff members like Conrod and Marshall are pivotal to building trust with customers through exceptional service standards and making expansion happen, MacDonald emphasized. The owner reached out to manager Conrod to lead the start-up of NOVUS Glass Elmsdale as the two Portapique property neighbours became closer following the tragic events in April 2020. “We’re really fortunate to have a really strong staff, between Bill, Tyson, technician Donavan Lavigne and Jenn O’Neil up front,” MacDonald said. “I don’t know how we got them, but we did, and we’re lucky to have them.”
“We want to empower our staff to the best they can be,” he added, “and we want to have strong respect between our staff and our customers – those two are symbiotic in our success.” For MacDonald, his new business in Elmsdale is truly a family affair. Not only are staff members very much like family, but his wife Katie MacDonald is an equal partner in the business.
“I’m excited to learn and grow and work with our great staff,” she said of helping run the new NOVUS Glass location, although she’s off now on maternity leave, caring for the couple’s newborn and toddler daughters. “Elmsdale has been really great so far,” she said. “Everybody we’ve met here has been really welcoming and supportive, and it seems like a great place to run our business and raise our family.”