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When the automotive classroom spans the Atlantic

Tuesday, October 1, 2019 - 06:00
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I have a lot of people to thank for being in my corner. My entire life consists of memories where people have been supportive of me, every step of the way. Whether it was from family, friends, co-workers or even personal mentors of mine; I’ve always had a guiding hand. Many doors have opened, as a result of efforts from people like the ones mentioned. My very first class (written on my own) was written to demonstrate the implementation of an unconventional testing method. One that many have found to be helpful to efficiently diagnose engine mechanical faults without expensive/time-consuming disassembly. The class has gained traction and popularity around the world and has brought me to the United Kingdom. That is where an opportunity of a lifetime had opened for all of us diagnosticians and will forever change the way we train in the automotive industry.

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A flame has been ignited
It all started a few months ago (if you’ll recall) when I assisted a young, talented technician in the UK named Ryan Colley (see this article). I applied the techniques I teach in class and helped Ryan condemn the timing components of an engine without the need to disassemble. He thought this could be beneficial to his peers in the UK and invited me to deliver the class in person. Tremendously excited, I agreed to do so and the plans began to fall in place. Little did I know, we would be making history. We traveled the country, beginning in the south in the village of Taunton, Somerset, UK. There is where I met one of the UK’s finest instructors, Mr. James Dillon, who was kind enough to offer his phenomenal training facility (known as Tech Topics Head Quarters) to host my debut class. The class was a great success and I was very much looking forward to our tour of this fine country as well as the two other classes, scheduled for the remainder of the week. I also must take a moment to publicly thank James for the wonderful hand-made cheese, whiskey and beer he sent me home with, as a token of memory. It was very much enjoyed!

What an honor meeting two of the UK's best: Frank Massey (left) and his son, David (right).

Establishing brotherhoods and future gatherings
Now, as exciting as the classroom was for me, I simply can’t discount how much fun we have had behind the scenes. Traveling with me and accompanying me the entire time were my newest brothers (“me Mates”) Ryan Colley and Steve Scott of Simply Diagnostics (check out his channel on YouTube), one of the UK’s finest mobile diagnosticians and popular YouTube contributor. I’d compare him to the likes of our own John Anello (Auto Tech On Wheels). Equally as clever and even more hysterical! These guys were an absolute necessity to the success of the trip and it simply could not have occurred without their hard work and dedication to our industry.

Before hitting the open road, we enjoyed some food and beer with some phenomenally talented technicians. It’s little places, like the pub we chose, where I met techs like Adam Critchley, (better known as “The Critch”) where I witnessed him eat his own bodyweight in burgers and fries. He is a real sharp guy underneath his layers of muscle and body mass. Likely one of the most colorful characters I encountered on the whole expedition. I met his best friend, Neil Curry who, like “Critch,” holds the coveted title for "UK’s Top Automotive Technician!"  What an honor!

We had a day’s rest and enjoyed visiting places like The Tower in Blackpool where we stood about 400 feet above the ground, standing on a clear-glass floor. Of course, Steve had to test the limitations of its integrity by jumping up and down, with us all on it! We also celebrated “Chippy-Friday,” a bit too soon (but how can you visit UK and not have a proper “Fish-n’-Chips with Mushy-Peas?”). All in great fun, Steve even sent me home with a souvenir for my little girl, Makenna (a.k.a “The Bop”). We made our way up the western coast of England to the central part of the country, where the next venue was located and had a fantastic time with some of the attendees that would be present tomorrow. This is where I learned to properly drink a Guinness! From the first initial sip, the surface of the beer must then rest between the word “Guinness” and the crest etched into the glass. That was a blast!

Star struck
On the day of my second presentation, we set up class in a beautiful shop in Preston, Lancashire. Automotive Diagnostic Solutions (A.D.S) was the venue and home to (and where I was greeted by) one of my heroes and his son, world renowned diagnosticians Frank and David Massey of AutoInform Magazine. The shop was fully prepared and specialized in the performance tuning of exotic machines from all over Europe. The place was extremely impressive. Frank even cut his Alps motorcycling tour vacation short, just to rush home and be a part of class. What an honor it was to be in the presence of such greatness and be treated like a peer. That was easily one of the greatest experiences of the entire trip. Not only was class a huge success but the downtime at the local pub left my face in pain (from laughter) and some brilliant lasting memories. David has since become like a brother to me; and I can’t forget to mention his darling assistant, Annette Parkinson (the true boss). What a tremendous asset she is and so willing to help. I’m a huge fan of hers.

Nothing like applying what you learned! And with brothers from "across the pond!"

On the third and final venue, we finished the tour in Glasgow, Scotland where class was held in the BOSCH training center. I met the likes of so many talented individuals, including some of my favorite mates, Craig Overfinch (and his lovely wife), Tommy Forrest, Stephen Marshall (and his cute little daughter) and “Joey Vauxhall” (you guessed it, a Vauxhall specialist). Joey took us all out to dinner to a restaurant owned by one of his closest friends. He wanted my first trip to UK to include healthy helping of Haggis, prepared as many ways as you can imagine. Honestly, it was quite nice! Another wonderful class experience was carried out and the following day, spent the afternoon applying what we’d learned in class, hosted by Craig in his workshop called Phillips Garage. There I experienced a live, diesel-powered Vauxhall, where we successfully diagnosed a valve seating issue using some unconventional methods. Not one day goes by that I don’t miss each one of those fellas.

The classroom has spanned the Atlantic
As important as this experience in the UK was to me, regarding the brotherhoods formed and the experience of how things are done on that side of the great Atlantic; the most important part would be the fact that we have successfully bridged the gap between the U.S. and UK. A kinship has been established and some very important phone/email conversations have occurred. I’ve been in exchange with some of the United States’ best instructors and all are excited to carry their knowledge across the ocean in the near future, as I have. On the flip side, both Frank Massey and James Dillon have both given me their blessing and agreed to teach here in the U.S. as well! Most impressively, this month, ASA is hosting an event in the Philadelphia-area of Pennsylvania called Super Saturday and I am happy and proud to say that SEVEN of our UK counterparts are scheduled to arrive and attend the one-day event.

We have started a new culture of exchanging the way we do things over here (in the U.S.) and the way they do things over there (in the UK). With my short 20 years’ experience in the industry, I can tell you that these UK technicians are some of the most talented and intelligent I’ve ever encountered. The training and certification they implement “over there” is extremely impressive and all of us here can stand to learn a lot from them. It’s all thanks of the incredible efforts made by that brave young man, Ryan Colley, who put a lot on the line to take a chance on me. As a result of his efforts, we have him to thank for what has occurred between these two great countries of ours. From this point forward, I will always refer to Ryan as “The Gatekeeper.” I truly hope the nickname sticks, because that is exactly who he is. We’ve made it to the UK…where will it lead us from here? The world is the limit!

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