MWACA President and Vision Co-founder Jerry Holcom discusses how Vision remains a cost-effective way to bring the whole shop for training.From left: Mark Nicodemus, of S.U.R.&R Vehicle Fluid Line Repair Solutions, assists Dustin Osborn, of Al’s Automotive’s Lenexa, Kan., branch, in showing the capabilities of the PFT 409 pistol-grip flaring tool to Scott Bickley, owner of Little Wolf Auto in Waupaca, Wis., and Louis Saak, owner of Saak Automotive in Baxter, Iowa.Clark’s Tool & Equipment returned to Vision this year, and Matt McCoy (left,) manager of the Shawnee location and joined by Sales Manager John Johnson, reported that strong booth traffic prompted him to expand to a 300-square-foot booth at next year’s event.Peter Cooper, left, owner of Absolute Repair in Cumming, Iowa, discusses scan tool features with David Martin, of Diesel Laptops, at the Hi-Tech Tool Expo Thursday evening.Jason Hagen (left,) manager of Royal Autowerks in Overland Park, Kan., talks about new tools at O’Reilly Auto Parts with Regional Field Sales Manager John Massie.James Copeland, owner of Midwest Autoworx in Columbia, Mo., picked up a $275 MWACA gift certificate for having his entry drawn. (Photo By Laura Schulte)Jim Post, owner of Jim’s Automotive in Des Moines, Iowa, was the lucky winner of a 40-inch-class Vizio smart TV at Parts & People’s Vision booth. He’s congrataluted by Associate Editor Jay Sicht (left) and Midwest/River Valley Regional Manager Dustin Holland. (Photo By Laura Schulte)Richard Woodson, manager of Midwest Autoworx’s Boonville, Mo., location, won a prize package to Kansas Speedway’s May 11 Cup-series night race. (Photo By Laura Schulte)

MWACA brings ‘Out of this World Training’ to Vision

More than 520 attendees from around the country and beyond attend Hi-Tech training event and expo for first time

Overland Park, Kan.—It’s no secret how important customer satisfaction is.

“When the customer says, ‘I love doing business with you guys,’ that’s where the payoff comes from. That’s where the money comes from, that’s where the word-of-mouth comes from, and that’s where the forgiveness factor comes from — when things don’t go according to plan.”

Those words by business leadership expert Steve Farber kicked off the Saturday morning general session at the recent 27th annual Midwest Auto Care Alliance’s (MWACA) Vision Hi-Tech Training & Expo event at the Overland Park Convention Center, with the theme, “Out of this World Training.”

That experience starts with the shop’s employees, he said. “Whether you’re the shop owner or technician, we need to create the culture that people love working there. If I don’t love working here, it's very hard for me to deliver that to my customer.”

The event continues to break records, with more than 3,500 technicians, service advisors, and shop owners from 44 states, Puerto Rico, seven Canadian provinces, Australia, Guatemala, and Zimbabwe attending technical and management training. More than 520 of those were first-time attendees. Altogether, there were more than 29,903 hours of training among the 110 training courses offered. With the event outgrowing the convention center and adjacent Sheraton Hotel, additional sessions were held at the nearby Marriott.

For the fifth year, training began Thursday morning, culminating with the Hi-Tech Tool Expo “show within a show,” where exhibitors showcased diagnostic and other high-tech equipment after a full day of high-tech and management training. The main event Expo, held Friday evening and Saturday, once again sold out the 60,000-square-foot expo floor, with more than 140 exhibitors, including 36 first-time exhibitors.


Panel discusses attracting and retaining employees

At Friday’s management luncheon, a panel of shop owners and industry experts discussed the challenges of staffing an automotive care business. Several on the panel agreed that a mentorship culture helps develop a career path for technicians who want to advance in their careers.

“We need to realize as an industry that we’re fighting against not ourselves, and not the OEM dealer, but other industries that are after our same kids,” said Chris Chesney, senior director of customer training for the CARQUEST Technical Institute.

Brian Bates, owner of Eagle Automotive, with three locations in the Littleton, Colo., area, said job interviewees are attracted by the prospect of moving into a leadership role, which may include becoming shop manager as his company grows.

“Part of our culture is leadership, and one of the things I really like about an apprenticeship program is I retain my master technicians. You’re not just investing in the youngster; you’re investing in the guy who’s running your shop, and his training and development, too.”

Aaron Stokes, owner of EuroFix, in Nashville, Tenn., noted the “grease monkey” mentality sometimes persists, and it’s important to reinforce jobs well done by technicians, part of giving honor to their profession.

“They’re tradesmen; they’re craftsmen,” he said. “They do something that, at the end of the day, is amazing. They get people to funerals, to the hospital to watch a baby be born, and to graduations. We don’t realize how important technicians are.”

At Friday’s Educator Think Tank session, Richard Cox, instructor at North Central Kansas Technical College, was awarded Educator of the Year. During Saturday evening’s annual Celebration of Independents Awards Dinner, Carl Hutchinson, owner of Complete Automotive in Springfield, Mo., was named Humanitarian of the Year.

Website of the year went to inMotion Auto Care, in Lincoln, Neb. ( Travis Troy, co-owner of Honest Wrenches Automotive Repair in Des Moines, Iowa, was recognized with the Midwest Auto Car Alliance’s President’s Club award, and Mike Moehlenkamp, owner, accepted the Green Star Facility award for Gary’s Auto Service in Florissant, Mo.

Diedra Wixon, of Griffin Brake and Muffler, in Ft. Madison, Iowa, was awarded the Ed Schaeffer Scholarship.

Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.