BMW April 2022

Give two 40-something year old sons, in this case James and Charles Canning, who together have 50 years experience in the panelbeating game, a blank sheet of paper to design an entirely new shop in Cape Town and what do you get? … Bespoke and swish new premises, of course, that stand tall and proud although still in the beating heart of Cape Town,” reckons Dave Fall, contributor to Automotive Refinisher.  

Both my brother and I knew exactly what we wanted, and whilst sitting with our architect who on occasion was forced to rein in our enthusiasm in observing certain practicalities found in today’s business world!”, said Charles. 

It took just eleven months to create and brainstorm. “It had occurred to me along the way the panelbeating game in Cape Town needed a bit of a shake up and it was time that someone here should lead the way in our profession and in effect follow our dreams,” said Charles.  

Grandfather Clement Canning started the business with his son Barry Canning taking over the business in 1984. Barry was the driving force behind the stability and sustainability of the business before allowing James and Charles to push the business forward to where they are today.  Although retired from our family business he remains heavily involved in the affairs of the RMI, the motor industry bargaining council, and the industry medical aid.  

Looking at just some of the innovations within Cannings such as the TermoMeccanica system for spray painting Automotive Refinisher learned that: “40 years ago it was actually Barry who installed such a unit and it never missed a beat down the years so we contacted the Italian company about continuing the relationship yes there may well be comparable systems out there but given the excellent service from TermoMeccanica in the past the decision to install their very latest spraybooth was a ‘no brainer’ it’s that good,” believes Charles.

Another ‘best-buy’ was the Celette Sevenne system imported and installed in a matter of days before the grand opening on June 13, 2019 “and it comes with guaranteed service and back-up whenever it is needed,” commented Charles. 

How to get cars from the first floor up to the second floor proved a headache without a ramp and proved a real chore the solution was eventually found in China in the form of car lifts. We have two of these to help with workflow. 

Yet another very necessary component to successfully run this business and be top of the game is a bullet-proof mixing lab and once again it proved a ‘no brainer’ to stick with Glasurit for the waterborne paint system that we use. Glasurit remains the go-to guys relating to just about any paint issue,” said Charles.

Interestingly, it was the boys’ grandfather who started the business around 45 years ago while being the first AECI/Dulux colour matcher in Cape Town “Boy was this guy good,” noted Charles. “Today Glasurit is basically what Dulux was back in the day and we still enjoy that brilliant relationship nothing is too much trouble when you need answers in a hurry. 

These days we have a dedicated colour matcher in our paint lab who constantly liaises with the spray painters every step of the way,” said James. 

Yet another nod to in-house modernism is the entire use of a waterless car cleaning system one that’s perfectly suited to today’s needs in the Western Cape given their dire water shortage situation that needs to be observed 100% if the drought situation is to be eventually turned around obviously sooner than later.

 “It was around 12 months ago our dream of new premises developed into the finished product you see here. At roughly the same time we felt we needed a bit of a rebrand. Hence the need for a new logo, website, etc. 

The list of people involved in this new venture is huge; everybody in this room tonight whether a customer, insurance assessor or a future client of ours to us each and every one of you are on first name terms, and as such we are ready to be of service,” reiterated Charles. 

A nice family touch to the evening was the cutting of a ribbon (similar to the launching of a newly-built ship) ceremony and to which it gave Charles and James great pleasure to have their parents in attendance to perform that particular duty this was indeed a real ‘Cannings’ family celebration!

By Dave Fall