The “Shop of the Future” panelists discussed how and why shop owners must prepare for a near future that includes specialization and fewer traditional repairs.Devin Kelley, owner of DK Motors in Columbia, Mo., accepts the Green Facility award from ASA-Midwest President Jerry Holcom.Richard Rawlings, star of Gas Monkey Garage, was on hand to pose for photos and sign autographs for fans.Students and their instructors accept scholarships awarded by ASA Midwest’s Technicians of Tomorrow Educational Foundation.Automotive Training Group, San Diego, Humanitarian award.Reno shop owners: Facility of the Year.Liesl Grossi, co-owner of Electric Motion and Lakewood Auto Electric, with a booth visitor.Opening night of the Hi-Tech Tool Expo.More than 200 attended Trainer John Thornton's sold-out class on "Turbocharger Operation and Diagnostics."

Vision meets technology challenge

Overland Park, Kan.—As the pace of changing technology continues to quicken, the Vision Hi-Tech Training & Expo, now in its 26th year, continues to draw technicians, service advisors, and shop owners for top-notch technical and management training. This year’s event, March 1-4, in Overland Park, Kan., with the theme “Train Hard or Go Home,” saw more than 3,600 in attendance from 42 states, Puerto Rico, seven Canadian provinces, the British Virgin Islands, Guatemala, St. Maarten, and Zimbabwe.

 

Change is coming swiftly

It may have been one of the last events of the weekend, but Sunday morning’s general session included a panel discussion summing up the feeling of the event: change is coming swiftly, and repairers must be prepared with new business strategies and continued training.

Carm Capriotto, founder and host of the “Remarkable Results” podcast, moderated the panel, which included Chris Chesney, senior director of customer training at Advance Auto Parts-CARQUEST Technical Institute; Summer Guerrero, co-owner of the just-renamed Affinity Automotive Services shop in Wichita, Kan.; Donny Seyfer, co-owner of Seyfer Automotive, in Wheat Ridge, Colo., executive director of the National Automotive Service Task Force, and past chairman of ASA; Keith Williamson, owner of Williamson’s Repair and Tire in Bondurant, Iowa; and Eric Ziegler, owner/operator of EZ Diagnostic Solutions Inc. in Peoria, Ill., a mobile diagnostic service.

As the panel pointed out, maintenance intervals are increasing, with some getting significantly longer.

“Some of the vehicles showing up in your bays may never need brakes in their entire life — until they rust,” Seyfer said, noting that hybrid vehicles, in particular, experience little brake wear. And as engine oil and transmission fluid service intervals increase, a shop has only about four or five years before a paradigm shift, he said.

“Driveability will get more complex,” he said. “We need to focus on where our training is invested and build our profit models on what will roll through the door, instead of what we’ve been doing in the past.”

Williamson agreed, noting that GM has committed to introducing automated cars next year, with Ford to follow in two more years.

“We may as well accept it, get the training we need for it, and there will be other changes coming as part of that.”

Although it’s not uncommon to find a shop specializing in only Asian or European makes, or even a single brand, Chesney said that as cars increasingly become “a huge complex data network with four wheels on it,” shops will need to start employing specialist technicians.

“You need to start thinking about narrowing your technician’s focus so they can start specializing in those areas,” he said. In Chesney’s vision, a “B”-level technician can tackle simpler OBD tasks, while training to become the data network specialist employed by the shop to solve advanced driveability issues. That last point — facilitating upward mobility for technicians — is key to increasing technician job satisfaction, retention, and attracting the most qualified personnel, he said. The newest Audi A8, for example, now employs three times as many lines of computer code as the latest jet fighter, and that technology will soon trickle down to more pedestrian makes and models.

Ziegler agreed that specialization is needed. Currently, even “high-end shops can’t find blown or missing fuses and they’ve misdiagnosed thousands of dollars in parts put on cars. There is a big awakening in our industry, and I think it will be like Darwin: The survival of the fittest in which the people who adapt, the people who strive to be the best they can be, to raise the level of their game to the top and specialize — they will come out on top.”

 

Hi-Tech Tool Expo

Thursday night’s popular Hi-Tech Tool Expo, now in its fourth year, was a “show within a show,” with exhibitors showcasing diagnostic and other high-tech equipment after a full day of high-tech and management training. Snap-on Tools’ Zeus Diagnostic & Information System won the Professional’s Choice Best New Product award, voted on by Vision attendees from a New Product Showcase in front of the sold-out 60,000-square-foot expo floor.

 

Educator Think Tank             

At Friday’s Educator Think Tank session, Jim Morton, owner of Morton’s Automotive Technical Services and engine performance instructor at the Automotive Training Center in Warminster, Penn., was awarded Educator of the Year.

“He doesn’t just teach from a textbook,” noted ASA-Midwest Executive Director Sheri Hamilton in Friday’s Educator Think Tank luncheon. “He’s very innovative in his delivery, with hands-on, practical approaches that constantly challenge his students to reach their full potential.”

 

Celebration of Independents Awards Dinner

Chesney was recognized by ASA-Midwest President Jerry Holcom with the President’s Award for his longstanding support of the event.

Two shops were awarded the Green Star Facility Award for focusing on environmentally friendly practices: DK Motors, owned by Devin Kelley, in Columbia, Mo.; and Williamson’s Repair and Tire, in Bondurant, Iowa, owned by Keith Williamson.

CS Automotive, in Brentwood, Tenn., received the Best Website award.

    

Scholarship presentations

ASA Midwest’s Technicians of Tomorrow Educational Foundation awarded four $1,000 scholarships to high school and college or Vo-Tech students pursuing a career in the automotive services industry: Jessica Riley from Metropolitan Community College in Lee’s Summit, Mo.; Jamie Smith, of OSU Institute of Technology in Okmulgee, Okla.; Andrew Spangler, from Southeast Community College, in Milford, Neb.; and Nathan Sporrer, of Iowa Central Community College in Carroll, Iowa.

Through a donation from Autoshop Solutions, Vision also awarded $1,000 scholarships to Jakob Church of North Central Kansas Technical College in Hays, Kan., and Kimberly Hensley, of Des Moines (Iowa) Area Community College.

 

Scholarship presentations

ASA Midwest’s Technicians of Tomorrow Educational Foundation awarded four $1,000 scholarships to high school and college or Vo-Tech students pursuing a career in the automotive services industry: Jessica Riley from Metropolitan Community College in Lee’s Summit, Mo.; Jamie Smith, of OSU Institute of Technology in Okmulgee, Okla.; Andrew Spangler, from Southeast Community College, in Milford, Neb.; and Nathan Sporrer, of Iowa Central Community College in Carroll, Iowa.

Through a donation from Autoshop Solutions, Vision also awarded $1,000 scholarships to Jakob Church of North Central Kansas Technical College in Hays, Kan., and Kimberly Hensley, of Des Moines (Iowa) Area Community College.

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.

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