Taking charge, leading the way
Denver—The Lincoln Tech Collision Repair & Refinishing Technology program is nearing its seventh anniversary, during which time the school has striven to provide a high-quality education using industry-leading equipment and products.
“One of the largest transitions in our industry is waterborne paint,” said Kat Vandam, Lincoln Tech collision repair instructor, who has been teaching for 11 years, seven of which have been at Lincoln Tech, during her 29-year career in the collision industry. “We’ve been working together with PPG for more than a year, and now we have an opportunity to tear into it.”
PPG is introducing students to its Envirobase paint system with a new PPG mixing station. Employers are increasingly asking potential new hires if they’ve sprayed waterborne before, she said.
The school offers classroom training and hands-on experience in its 19 collision bays. There are more than 38,000 positions expected to open around the country in collision repair — including almost 1,000 in Colorado — by 2024, according to careeronestop.org.
Jim Bittinger, PPG territory manager, said, “We see a lot of shops spraying waterborne in this region — more so than solvent — and more than 200 shops are spraying Envirobase. There are 11,600 shops in North America using our waterborne product. All of our competitors, if taken together, don’t sell to more than 100 shops. Our market share is strong, so it increases the ability for grads to start their careers with our experience.”
PPG’s program, “Partners in Education,” was developed so students can be certified and have a foundation in the PPG painting process when they graduate. It creates a partnership with the top post-secondary technical schools and colleges across North America, and is a collaborative initiative between PPG and technical schools to develop skilled entry-level technicians for employment at PPG customers. In addition to Lincoln Tech, PPG also offers training at Warren Tech and Pickens Tech, and recently converted WyoTech in Laramie, Wyo.
“One of the problems students have today when they graduate as a technician is they need a year of hands-on experience before they can attend a PPG certification class and become certified,” said Chris Stevens, PPG territory manager. “This way, our curriculum is integrated with Lincoln Tech’s curriculum.”
The PPG program includes online studies and hands-on work with spray testing, which will ultimately lead to PPG certification.
“It’s a really solid program,” Stevens added.
Randy Schardein is one of three PPG instructors nationwide who is a “road school trainer” without a dedicated facility (26 weeks traveled in 2018), so he is afforded opportunities to work in classrooms in schools such as Lincoln Tech, as opposed to collision shops that might not have optimal space and are in the middle of production cycles.
“It’s great that we can partner with schools like Lincoln Tech, because they offer additional venues,” he said.
The program also affords students an advantage and opportunities for job placement in shops that use PPG. Once students are certified, they require recertification every two years with a one-day PPG training class at any of the company’s varied training center locations.
“As students, they can attend all Lincoln Tech’s PPG classes at no cost,” said Stevens, adding that PPG generally holds three training sessions a quarter at the school.