January 8, 2019 9:00 pm

Longtime Calgary business Lou’s Auto Body celebrates 50 years of success — despite downturn

WATCH: Longtime Calgary business Lou's Auto Body celebrates five decades in business despite the economic challenges facing the city and local businesses. Tomasia DaSilva explains what its key to success has been over the years.

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A longtime Calgary business that started in what was essentially an old barn is now celebrating five decades of success — despite the economic downturn many in the city have been struggling with.

CSN’s Lou’s Auto Body first set up shop in the southeast community of Inglewood back in November 1969.

Its former owner Lou Dupont quickly made a name and face for himself throughout Calgary.

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“He was an icon in our city,” his son, Steven Dupont said, remembering his father who died in 2012.

Lou’s also drove change in Calgary’s auto body industry, bringing courtesy cars — an entire fleet of them — to the city.

“Courtesy cars was one of the innovations we’ll take credit for.”

But what Dupont said really lead to loyal customers was the service, which his dad was a stickler about.

“He always had the motto, ‘First class or not at all,'” Dupont said.

WATCH: Calgary businesses should expect lingering challenges in 2019: Calgary Chamber of Commerce

Workers at Lou’s, which currently employs 17 people — some of which have been with the company for more than 20 years — tries to keep that motto top of mind to this day.

Donna Albrecht has worked for Lou’s for almost 12 years. She told Global News the family environment is why she’s stayed.

“They treat you like family,” Albrecht said. “When I first started I felt like I was adopted by Lou and Sue.”

For many people, longtime businesses are vital to Calgary communities which have seen many places close up shop or struggle in the last several years.

“It’s just nice to see someone who will stay this long,” the Inglewood Community Association‘s Pat Abbott said.

Abbott said businesses have increasingly been staying about a year and then pulling out — usually due to higher rents or property taxes.

READ MORE: Calgary business owners brace for possibility of huge property tax bills

Lou’s has also seen those very same challenges, but so far has been able to overcome them.

It’s made some changes such as lowering costs and renegotiating property values with the city.

It’s also become a member of CSN Collision Centres — a network of the largest collision centres in Canada — allowing it to process insurance claims easier and faster.

But Dupont said the real key to its success has been sticking to tradition and his dad’s motto.

“Treat every day like it’s your grand opening,” he said.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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