Success of Mirage Spraypainters & Panelbeaters no optical illusion
Pride and passion for delivering high class refinish results.
Leo Caratti started his Australian automotive refinish career as an apprentice spray painter at Houghton Ford in 1968, after migrating to Australia from Italy as a qualified spray painter/panel beater. Leo saw his first business opportunity in 1977 in Perth when he was working in a business called M&M Pearce Spray Painting in Carlisle. They sold their business to Leo who set about changing it into Mirage Spraypainters & Panelbeaters.
Chris Caratti, Leo’s son and General Manager of Mirage Spraypainters & Panelbeaters, grew up around the business so was destined to join his mother and father when the time was right. "I think I was two when I had my first panel beating experience on a freshly repaired Honda Accord with a big hammer, " recalls Chris. "I made mum and dad curse and swear on that one, as it was ready to go out."
In 1983 Mirage moved from their former site into the present site in Belmont, at that time a one unit business. . "The front building used to be a panel and paint shop all in one.“ Now their business spans street-tostreet after purchasing the block at the rear of their premises and building the body shop around 1996. “Around five years ago we finalised our full refit to our paint shop with a complete layout change and all new Spanesi equipment plus rebuilding of front of house completely changing the appearance of the building" added Chris.
The business relationship between Mirage Spraypainters & Panelbeaters and BASF has lasted almost four decades, and Chris still has an original can of Glasurit 21 Line stored for historic and sentimental reasons.
In fact, it is believed that Leo was the first person in Western Australia to have had an influence on bringing the Glasurit brand into the country. "My dad was working on a BMW with Auto Classic, back in the acrylic days, there was no Glasurit in W.A, and I don’t think there was Glasurit in Australia at that point, " Chris said. "He painted a boot lid and did it three times and couldn’t match the colour. He ended up returning it to the dealership and told the dealer principal ‚‘I can’t help you', and dad didn’t bill him for it." Chris went on to add,"The dealer principal called him back and said 'What can I do to help?', so dad said 'Get me the product that’s on the car'. So they started the process and were able to bring in pre-packed factory white label through BMW and that’s where he started using Glasurit."
Chris accredits the great relationships to the success of this long standing business partnership. "The teamwork with BASF is something we are pretty proud of, with 35 plus years it would take something pretty spectacular for me to want to go and change that. Glasurit has always been a great product and there has always been someone to talk to. I have had good relationships with upper management at BASF Australia," said Chris.
Mirage have a strong commitment to a more sustainable future, demonstrated through the recent upgrade to their renewable energy system to 96kw on their roof. "It is a part cost saving and also trying to do the right thing," said Chris, adding "We had a reasonable system up there, but with our plant and equipment in the paint shop we chew through a lot of power, anything we can do to curtail the costs is beneficial, but doing in a green fashion is also good."
Their environmental impact also extends to the paint shop at Mirage, having previously been a part of the Glasurit Bodyshop Emissions Program, an initiative where trees were planted to help offset emissions produced during the paint process, they are also the first shop in Western Australia to install the latest Glasurit refinish technology 100 Line. The first basecoat line on the market with a VOC value <250 g/l and thus being especially environmentally friendly. A pioneering technology 40% below EU solvent limit – exceeding all global VOC requirements.
"Chris likes to be aware of all new products becoming available and wanted to be the first in Western Australia to move to 100 Line," said Mark Harrison, State Manager, BASF Australia. "They have always been an advocate for our Glasurit brand."
When their paint technican Simon had his first experience with this new technology the results spoke for themself."The coverage was great, speed was good, no issues, " said Chris, of their first experience with Glasurit 100 Line on a orange Mini. "It laid on really nicely. Simon was pretty stoked with the outcome of that one." The refinish was equally impressive with a recent Porsche 911, completed by Dylan, another of their star paint technicians, where Leo himself complimented the finish as being better than OE standard.
Mirage are a team who value their craft, and take pride in their work with every job that comes through their business."I’m most proud of our team, their achievements and our badges, " said Chris. " Without our team we wouldn’t have anything it’s all well and good having a fancy building and the badges on the wall, but without the team it doesn’t mean anything."
Good fortune with great apprentices in the business is something all shops wish they had. Mirage have had this fortune with a fair few apprentices, some of which have stayed on for almost 40 years and others being recognised as apprentice of the year on the SGIO Jumpstart Program. "It’s very hard to get good apprentices, having the workshop we do does make it a little more attractive, you get to see some pretty cool cars come through and take a bit of pride in your work."
The relationship between BASF and Mirage continues to remain strong and looks to continue into the future with the recent signing of a new agreement.