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Technicians of the future

Friday, December 4, 2015 - 08:00
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“Our biggest focus for the past couple years has been training the ‘youngsters’ for lack of a better word, the technicians of the future,” remarks Judi Haglin of Haglin Automotive, the Top Shop of 2015. With the Millennial generation now beginning to enter the work force, shop owners face new challenges—and perhaps new solutions.

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Automotive technology has advanced at such an accelerated rate that training has become the purview and prerogative of the repair shop. “Twenty years ago you learned about computerized carburetors and you were done,” laughs Doug Whiteman, owner of George’s Sierra Shell, the 2014 Top Shop. “Then it used to be you’d learn about a system and that would last you three or four years. Stuff is changing so rapidly now we’re going to be doing yearly training, probably for the rest of our lives. In my opinion, just the last two to five years has become more intense, and you have to stay ahead of the curve.”

Douglas Whiteman leads a regular briefing and training session with George's Sierra Shell technicians. Heather Stanton of George's Sierra Shell attends ATI's shop owners and leadership training at Baltimore.

To help facilitate this, parts retailers and auto manufacturers offer seminars, clinics and classes, which works great for shop owners like Whiteman, who’s based in Fontana, CA. “Auto Zone, NAPA, Star Auto Parts--which is big on the West Coast--we do a lot of individual training just in the area of Southern California here. We’ve also done electrical training, beginner and advanced; (the latter) is a two-night process.”

Co-owner of 25th Street Automotive in Phoenix, AZ, Bill Coniom concurs. “Besides the training from the manufacturers and the aftermarket, we stay on a real informal communicative basis with some of the training people as Facebook friends, so that whenever (new information comes up), I’ll let the class become available to the staff. “

“It’s not necessarily even the traditional ‘here’s a diagnostic class, give it to my diagnostician,’” Coniom continues. “I’ve got two young technicians, one in the early stages of certification and the other an apprentice who mops floors; I send them both to those classes, because I believe it’s important to their development, no matter where their career takes them. We do expect that if you’re a full time employee, you should enroll in and complete a minimum of 35 hours a year, but we pretty much never shut it off. If they’re willing to do it, I’ll pay them to do it.”

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