Our Award Winning podcast series focuses on the automotive industry and how it’s impacting the technicians of today and tomorrow. Hosted by ASE Certified Master Technician Richard Young and featuring experts from across the automotive industry including instructors, shop owners, manufacturers, and technicians. Download a new podcast bi-monthly and expand your knowledge.
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Episode #29 with Jorge Antico – Helping Shops Increase Sales and Customer Loyalty
In the 29th episode of Technician.Academy’s podcast series, Richard Young talks with Founder and CEO of SI AutoPro, Jorge Antico. Antico was a 10-bay auto center owner for four years and recognized a need for shops to develop competitive advantages and provide superior consumer service experiences to its customers. Antico founded his software company in 1999 to give customers accurate assessments of their service needs and serve automotive shops in a number of different ways. In the podcast, Antico discusses his product ServiceIntelligence in detail, explaining how it provides ultra-accurate sales information, increases a shop’s car count, and deepens customer loyalty. Tune in now to hear more from SI AutoPro’s Jorge Antico.
Episode #28 with Antoinette Jackson – What the Future Holds
Episode #28 of Technician.Academy’s podcast series provides an enthusiastic conversation with Suffolk Community College student, Antoinette Jackson. Jackson is a recipient of the 2017 Women in Auto Care Scholarship and will be graduating in May 2018 with an Automotive Technology Associates degree. Podcast host Richard Young and Antoinette Jackson discuss Jackson’s decision to delve into the automotive world and what her value as a female technician is and will be. Jackson explains what future innovations and changes she sees the automotive industry undergoing, and she expresses her desire to build a legacy in the automotive industry in the coming years. Tune into Episode #28 today.
Transcription - Episode 28
Richard Young: Welcome to today’s Technician.Academy podcast. We’re fortunate enough to have Antoinette Jackson with us today. She was the Women in Auto Care 2017 Scholarship winner. Welcome, Antoinette.
Antoinette Jackson: Thank you.
Richard Young: So, winning the scholarship. Tell us a little bit about that.
Antoinette Jackson: Well I had entered into a pool of scholarships where they go through and decide where you fit best. So I hadn’t specifically applied for the scholarship so when they had called me I was shocked because I didn’t believe it at first. I thought it was more of a solicitation call. But as I started talking to Danielle, and she started explaining everything to me I realized that I actually had won the scholarship. It was an unbelievable moment.
Richard Young: Yeah, and that was quite a scholarship. It was an unbelievable moment plus $10,000 dollars. That goes a long way towards education.
Antoinette Jackson: Yes, it’s going to pay for my whole education, which is really nice. Without having to take out loans.
Richard Young: So, tell us a little bit about yourself. You’re in the automotive program at Suffolk Community College, but tell us a little bit about your background.
Antoinette Jackson: Well I grew up in the auto industry. My parents had started a towing company while my mom was actually pregnant with me. And then it went from a towing company into opening a shop and it got bigger, and bigger, and bigger. So I kind of grew up at both my parents’ knees, working in the industry. I fell in love with it.
Richard Young: Fell in love with it. You literally have been in the industry your entire life, then. So, where are you located, Antoinette?
Antoinette Jackson: We have two facilities. We have one in Ronkonkoma, and another one in Huntington in New York, on Long Island.
Richard Young: Is the towing company out of one of those facilities?
Antoinette Jackson: We run it out of both. We cover a very wide area.
Richard Young: So, you’re in the automotive program and you just had a final test this morning, you told me. Felt pretty confident about it and you said you missed one, is that correct?
Antoinette Jackson: Yeah, one question.
Richard Young: I believe that is a good reason to feel confident about it. So you thought that the call from Women in Auto Care was a solicitation call. Have you won other awards or scholarships for education?
Antoinette Jackson: Yes. Last year I actually won the Mike Rowe’s Work Ethic Scholarship, which was also another amazing scholarship to win, because I really believe in his organization and what he does for the skills trade.
Richard Young: Yes, Mike Rowe goes a long way in promoting the skilled trades. And that is very important. Had you applied directly for it, or is that through this other organization?
Antoinette Jackson: No, I was able to apply directly for his scholarship.
Richard Young: So you got that scholarship, and you win the Women in Auto Care Scholarship. Tell us what you think the importance of a scholarship is to a college student.
Antoinette Jackson: Well, for me it really took a financial burden off of going to school, because it was a big step to attempt to go there. Family helps, too. But, you know, I have two children. So, there’s childcare, and also taking time away from work, and being able to fit that into your schedule. So, having school paid for and not having to worry about it is a big thing for me. It took a lot of the burden and stress off of deciding to go back to college.
Richard Young: The reason why I ask, Technician.Academy has just recently announced and established a Scholarship Board on our website, where students can go and apply for scholarships, and we’ve brought many of those resources to one spot.
Antoinette Jackson: I mean, I’m still paying my scholarships from my first degree. Because they are so fast. So to be able to not add to that is also a great help.
Richard Young: You mentioned your first degree. What type of education, degree, do you have prior to going into the automotive program?
Antoinette Jackson: I have a Bachelor’s in Business Administration and Finance.
Richard Young: I’m assuming you went into that directly out of high school?
Antoinette Jackson: Yes. I loved working for my family business, and it was a passion I had. So, I had gone into school planning to get my degree to help expand the business, and also, if things were to change, to be able to go off on my own. I had done that to also help with the business, and learning the paper side of it.
Richard Young: You’ve done it a little bit different than some of the automotive students that I’ve talked to over the years. You went and got a Business Degree first, and then you chose to go back to get an Automotive Degree. What made that decision happen?
Antoinette Jackson: Well, it’s very hard to find skilled techs. So, instead of having to keep hiring skilled techs and relying on them, I thought if I went back to school and became a skilled tech then I could help the new techs that I bring in. Almost train them myself instead of having to bring someone else in. I just wanted to know it all, I guess you would say.
Richard Young: So you’re kind of growing your own techs there in the shop.
Antoinette Jackson: Yes. I’ll learn something in class, and I’ll bring it back, and show my guys some of the newer things. For example, the ABS modules and systems, and everything that I’m learning in class, I can bring that information in and do my own little training.
Richard Young: How many techs do you have at the two facilities?
Antoinette Jackson: We’re not too big. We have, I guess, five techs. And then we have a Master Tech that comes in and does diesel work and other work on a case-by-case basis.
Richard Young: All right. So, you’ve attended college, you’re going to graduate in May. Are you just moving into the family business full-time then?
Antoinette Jackson: Yes. I was in it full-time before, but like I said, I wasn’t as much on the repair side. Now I want to run more of the repair side of it. I want to be able to not only write the invoices and talk to the customers and explain to them what’s actually going on in their car but to go out there and do it myself.
Richard Young: Do you see yourself in the role of a Service Manager/Advisor?
Antoinette Jackson: Well, when you own a business you kind of do everything.
Richard Young: Very true.
Antoinette Jackson: So, I say I’m everything from the janitor to the tech, to even jumping in a tow truck. A jack-of-all-trades.
Richard Young: Talking to the customers. Do you feel that, because you’re a female, it is a positive trait that you bring to the customer?
Antoinette Jackson: In some aspects, yes. Especially when I’m talking to moms or the younger generation. They seem to have more trust in me. Or more understanding of what I’m trying to tell them because I can relate a little to them. I’ll relate it to something that they’re doing in their lives when they talk about their cars. For instance, “If you go to the doctor, and this is broken …” I try to give them a picture. And it goes the other way sometimes with the older generation. Because they’ll say, “Put the mechanic on the phone. Let me talk to the mechanic. I want to know what’s wrong with my car.”
Richard Young: This is kind of off subject, but I think it’s important. Where do you feel that break in age, where they feel confident with you, but then the older, I’m assuming the older demographic feels that they need to speak with someone else? Is that in the 40’s?
Antoinette Jackson: Once I start talking to them, and they understand that I actually know what I’m talking about, I usually gain their trust. I’ve gained a lot of customers for life that way. But I would say 30 and younger I don’t see much of an issue. It’s that 30 and older.
Richard Young: Your ability now, not that you didn’t have some idea about the vehicle operation and how the vehicle repairs went before, but now with the degree and the foundation that Suffolk has provided, you bring quite a bit of value to that service desk or that customer.
Antoinette Jackson: Yes. I used to look up parts and I’d see what they do. But actually knowing how a fuel pressure regulator works, and why and if there is too much pressure on the rail and not enough pressure, how the valve works. It’s nice to be able to know that rather than just know it’s a fuel pressure regulator.
Richard Young: Knowing that you ordered a fuel pressure regulator, and the technician is going to install it is very important but being able to tell them why and what it’s for is always comforting for the customer.
Antoinette Jackson: And those 30 and under customers do a lot of internet searching. For instance, they will say, “On the internet, I read …” And I’ll say, “All right. Forget what you read on the internet.”
Richard Young: Yes, the “Google Techs” is what I call them. That information is at their fingertips. It’s kind of what I see in that age group and I would even go a little bit older, maybe in the 40 year-olds. They just expect to bring it to the professional and not have to question it. But, because the younger generation has been able to find out a huge amount of information and data and resources at their fingertips, they’re more inquisitive about it. They want to know how it works. Would you agree or disagree with that?
Antoinette Jackson: I’d agree. Many of them want to know how it works. Or, they want to look things up, which can be a hindrance because sometimes they look up a part online and it’s like, “I found it for five bucks. Why are you charging me $25?” and things like that. But, again, being able to explain to them about brands. What’s better about the product we’re putting in, and the longevity of it versus what they’re buying offline is helpful.
Richard Young: Yes. You mentioned the trouble of getting techs. Was there an automotive program in the high school you attended?
Antoinette Jackson: We had a first-year automotive program in our high school. I don’t know if it’s there anymore. I have been out of school awhile, but when I was there they did have it, which was really nice.
Richard Young: Okay. I guess then, really, you grew up in the automotive industry and out of high school; you felt that you wanted to be in the front end and in the paperwork. Was there ever an idea that you wanted to be in a different industry than automotive?
Antoinette Jackson: No. Even if I wasn’t here I would see myself working somewhere in the automotive industry. Something related to cars.
Richard Young: Okay. What draws you to the automotive industry? Is it the customers or is it the vehicles?
Antoinette Jackson: I guess the vehicles, they’re almost like a puzzle. I love figuring things out with cars. I love the puzzle of it. The, “What’s wrong with it? Fix it, and make it run.” That’s always intrigued me.
Richard Young: That kind of leads me to the next question. Now that you’ve basically got both degrees, I mean, you’ve got a little bit of time left, then you’ll have your Automotive Degree. Which one did you enjoy the most?
Antoinette Jackson: As far as classes?
Richard Young: Yes.
Antoinette Jackson: I would say electrical. I loved learning because that’s the new age of all the cars. They’re all going electrical. Even when we did our brakes class, half of it was ABS electrical. So, it was nice to learn how grounds work, and how hall-effects sensors work, and learning how everything works together in the car, and how you can find a fault. I probably liked electrical the best.
Richard Young: All right. As you hire new techs, or older techs retire or leave, do you have a plan or a thought process of how to gain the good quality techs? That’s a pretty broad subject, but I don’t know if you’ve got any siblings that also work with you in the family business.
Antoinette Jackson: No, it’s just me.
Richard Young: Just you. So you will be the boss.
Antoinette Jackson: Yes.
Richard Young: How do you see yourself working to make sure you’ve got the techs for the future?
Antoinette Jackson: Well, the school program I’m in at Suffolk Community College is a great program. I love how they set it up, and how they break it down, and how it’s not just “Everyone passes.” You really have to know the information to get through the program. So, I would probably get us involved in their career fair and push for the younger generation to come in while my older generation is coming out.
Richard Young: Okay. That’s a great idea. You know, I’m on a couple advisory boards for NATEF certified schools, and that’s a great resource. I especially like to see shop owners on those advisory boards, helping guide that program. So, I could definitely see you being in that position in the future.
Antoinette Jackson: And they do, through our program, 600 hours. You have to do 600 hours hands-on in a shop. So, opening my shop to people to do their summers here, I think would also help, whether they stay or not, bring people in.
Richard Young: Right. They get a feel for the industry. They get a feel for your shop, and the environment, the shop itself, and the way it’s run. But you get a feel for that technician, their soft skills, and their abilities. That would be a win-win.
Antoinette Jackson: To learn and absorb information, yes.
Richard Young: Yes. That’s a great idea. So, Women in Auto Care, I’ve been fortunate enough to interview several of their scholarship winners, Female Shop Owners of the Year, and female techs. What do you feel the importance of having female techs in a repair shop is?
Antoinette Jackson: I would hate to say diversity, but everyone brings something different to the table. And women, I think, bring that extra patience, I would say with the new generations and the mom. Because it tends to be more moms are bringing the cars in. It used to be the dads bringing it to the mechanic, but I see a lot more moms and women bringing their car in for service. So then, being able to relate to a female mechanic, I feel brings that confidence for customers to bring their cars in.
Richard Young: Yeah, I think the last study I saw said over 60% of the vehicle repairs done to today’s vehicles at a repair shop is okayed or signed off on by the female vehicle owner. So, yes, you’re right. The male is not bringing in the vehicle as much as the female of the family. And I’m sure there’s a certain amount of confidence that you can project to that female vehicle owner.
Antoinette Jackson: Also relating to them. I am a mom, so I can say, “You really need to get your brakes done. This is a safety issue. I wouldn’t feel comfortable as a mom driving the car this way.” Being able to have that relationship with the customer. And they’ll ask me, “Would you do it on your car?” And some things I tell them, “If I had the money, I’d do it. Otherwise, you need to get it done soon.” And other things I tell them, “This needs to be done right away.”
Richard Young: Oh, I hadn’t even thought about that. Bringing that confidence. You’re right. Some things need to be done now because they’re a safety issue. And then some things can wait till the next oil change, or the next time it’s in for service. So yeah, that’s a great piece. You’ve got two shops and you’ve got a towing company. Where do you see in the future for those shops in say five years?
Antoinette Jackson: I would love to have one major location. After five years, I’m hoping my parents will be able to retire partially if not fully. And I’m hoping to take over. I’d like to open a larger shop and combine it with multiple bays. I don’t know, I just would hope to be bigger. I would hope to take over more of the island. That’s what we’re pushing for, new equipment and better surveys. We’re pushing to make a name for ourselves.
Richard Young: So, bringing some technology in. I could see where having one centralized location would be an advantage over having two facilities. Sometimes two facilities are great, depending on the manpower you have.
Antoinette Jackson: Yes.
Richard Young: But, having it centralized and larger, being able to service more would be a definite advantage. And then, who knows. You may do that and then grow to a point where you need to …
Antoinette Jackson: Expand again!
Richard Young: Absolutely, expand again. I hope that happens for you. So you’ve got two children. Boy, girl? What?
Antoinette Jackson: My son is five and a half and my daughter is four.
Richard Young: Five and a half. In 10 and a half years, he’ll be 16. What are your thoughts if he wants to be in the automotive industry? Are you going to encourage it?
Antoinette Jackson: Oh, definitely. It’s funny because my daughter is the one who’s out there changing the oil with my husband. And she wants to get her hands dirty. And my son’s more, I would say, of the fabricator. He’ll line his cars up, he loves racing. He does Go Karting and he’s done the Porta-Midget practice runs. So, he loves racing the cars. And she loves working on them. But I would be fine with it. I think that there’s nothing to be ashamed of when learning a skill that can provide for you and your family. And I think we went in a direction where people were more ashamed of skills, rather than embracing them. And college isn’t for everyone. I mean, I loved it, but that’s me, personally. I still feel learning a skill is important because no matter what if your college degree can’t get you somewhere, and you have a hands-on skill, you can always provide for your family.
Richard Young: Yes. You said several things there that I want to be sure that we bring out. Your business degree, is that a four-year degree?
Antoinette Jackson: Yes.
Richard Young: Okay, so you went out of high school into a four-year degree, to business. And now you went and you’ve taken a two-year automotive program. So, when you say, “College isn’t for everyone,” I agree with that wholeheartedly. And I think it’s a great statement. You had a four-year degree, and you could’ve gone and been there in the business, running the books, running the business, marketing and everything associated with that. But you chose to go back and learn what goes on in the inner-workings of the business, the service end of it or the repair end of it. I commend you on that. And you mentioned, you think that we’ve let the skilled trades kind of, and for lack of a better term, we’ve let them get a black eye. It’s not been promoted through high schools.
Antoinette Jackson: No.
Richard Young: And I believe that, and you can definitely attest to this. I want your input on this. When you tell someone that you’re an automotive technician, there used to be maybe 30 years ago, there was some pride in that. I think there was a time period in between then and now that it was kind of looked down upon, especially by parents that were trying to guide their children to a career.
Antoinette Jackson: Yes, I agree. I think it was in both parts. It was the parents and the school.
Richard Young: Yes.
Antoinette Jackson: That they pushed more for that, “You can’t go anywhere without a college degree.” You know?
Richard Young: So, I guess my next question, and answer it if you would. If you would have come out of high school and you said, “Mom, Dad, I want to go into the automotive program first.” What do you think their response would have been?
Antoinette Jackson: I think they would’ve been fine with it. They’ve always been supportive of everything that I’ve done. I was working for the family business when I was younger, and I was 17, and I wanted to go to college for business. And I turned around to my mom and dad and I said, “Well, I’ve been working in the business my whole life. I don’t know if I’m good at it. I do it for the family business, but am I really good at it? This is why I want to go get my college degree.” So I went out and I got a job working for six dollars an hour washing dishes at the ice cream place. So, I started off there and within three months I was the opening manager. I was handling payroll, I was opening up, and I was opening new stores. So, I got out and I realized, “Well, I actually am really good at this.” But if I had not succeeded in that, or realized that’s not what I wanted to do, they would have supported me 100%.
Richard Young: Well, that’s great. So, obviously, you’re going to be a future shop owner. Mom and Dad run the business now, and you’re a big part of it. And you mentioned one of the goals is maybe, in five years, that they can retire comfortably, and you can do some things with the shop. Currently, does the shop have a Service Manager, Service Advisor?
Antoinette Jackson: We’re kind of small, and I tend to do that job at one location and my father does it at the other. But we work as a team. Each one of us takes a role, and sometimes we take the other person’s role if they can’t be here, or there.
Richard Young: Oh, okay. As a shop owner, you mentioned some things I want to make sure that everyone hears. As a future shop owner in five years, and with the education and degree you have, you’ve got some experience with marketing. How do you see the environment, the landscape of the automotive repair industry? How do you see that changing and how do you see your shop changing with it?
Antoinette Jackson: I would like to increase the technology because I know that’s the way of the next generation. I’ve looked into some things. As far as people, they are in the hands-on, instantaneous generation. So, with our trucks, we’ve got tablets now, where customers can see where the truck is, when he’s on his way, what his ETA is, what the driver looks like, a profile. So, I would like to bring that into the shop as well. Where you take pictures of the car. You know, “Your brakes need to be done. Here’s a picture.”
I’ve seen other science that brings that technology into the shop, where it’s a full hands-on, and like, each customer has a profile, and pictures of their car and everything is electronic. So, I like that new age technology, and I’d like to bring it into the shop.
Richard Young: I don’t know your main customer base, but when we talked earlier about the 30 year-olds and younger, that is definitely something that is attractive to them. I like technology too, and I’m definitely not in the 30-year-old range, so being able to incorporate that into your shop would be great.
Antoinette Jackson: Where they can keep track of things like, “Your parts are ordered. Your parts are on their way. Your parts are being installed. Your car is going to be completed. Your car is on a test drive.” Being able to have that, almost text message kind of interface would be really cool. I think it also helps with the legality end of it. It’s almost like all in one. So, if you take pictures while you’re doing the repair, and after the repair, and going forward it also helps you on the legal end. Then, “Here, yes, I did do the repair.”
Richard Young: You’re able to confirm what you’re charging.
Antoinette Jackson: Why, and if something like a bolt breaks, you take a picture. “This is why there was extra labor because this bolt broke and we had to tap it out.” Or, “This was rusted”.
Richard Young: So, you said your daughter changes oil with your husband. Is he one of the techs there?
Antoinette Jackson: He was hired here. And later I married him. But he’s actually a diesel tech now for New York State. So, I definitely pick his brain a lot.
Richard Young: Your children, having that background and that foundation in the automotive industry, I could see some amazing things for them in the future especially with the technology that we’re headed into. And speaking of that, you talk about the five years and updating and being able to do some electronic software. What’s one of the things that you’re excited about in the future? Is it telematics? Is it simple things like ADAS? What are you excited to see happen in the future, in the actual vehicle?
Antoinette Jackson: That’s a hard one. Again, I hate to keep going with the electrical end of it, but I love all the different systems that are being incorporated now. How the car can talk to each other, and you can hook up a scanner, and you can work all the different things in the car and see where it’s failing. I like that new age technology with it. I could say something that I’m not too keen on.
Richard Young: Okay.
Antoinette Jackson: A lot of the emissions stuff is a big hindrance to us. I see this, especially on the diesel side. A lot of people don’t have enough knowledge on it. And that’s another thing that I’m trying to learn, that would be my next steps. So, once I finish the program, I want to maybe take some side programs on diesel emissions. Because the systems are breaking and they don’t know how to fix them. So, I’d like to get more knowledge in that aspect.
Richard Young: It doesn’t just stop for Antoinette Jackson at the graduation in May.
Antoinette Jackson: No.
Richard Young: You know, that’s great. That is absolutely a great trait to have. And being in New York State, your emissions are a lot different there than it is across a big part of the nation.
Antoinette Jackson: Yeah. Believe me, I understand all the good that it does. But then there are a lot of problems and little things that need to be worked out.
Richard Young: Yeah, I think it was kind of like emissions was an afterthought.
Antoinette Jackson: Yeah, it’s almost like it was pushed through without being fully thought through.
Richard Young: Yeah.
Antoinette Jackson: So, we’re seeing that a lot in our diesel trucks.
Richard Young: So, is there, many hybrid electric vehicles coming through, or, do you see much of that?
Antoinette Jackson: We don’t see too much. I’m starting to see a little bit more. But I would say 5 to 10%. I wouldn’t think of it as a major increase. A few people I know are actually purchasing Teslas. So, we’ll see how that goes, as far as when we start seeing them come our way, because the first few years they are under manufacturer care.
Richard Young: I once had a gentleman, it’s been several years ago, I was at a training course on the Prius, and he made the comment, “You may be a hybrid specialist, and can you put that in your advertising. A customer that owns a hybrid thinks they have to take it to a hybrid specialist. And it may be just something as simple as changing a wiper blade. But you draw that extra customer in.” Is that something that we see in the future for your repair shops? Is it looking at electric vehicles or hybrid vehicles?
Antoinette Jackson: Yes, I see it more of a 5 to 10-year plan, rather than within the next year or two. We’re on the island, so I would consider us to have a different dynamic. There are not many people here who have really embraced that hybrid commuter. I don’t know if it’s a fear? It’s like a phobia. There’s a lot of traffic here, and a lot of sitting in traffic. And I almost feel like more people have a phobia about it than anything.
Richard Young: They’re just not sure about it.
Antoinette Jackson: Yes.
Richard Young: Not confident with it. I could see that. I’ve had the, I don’t know if I want to say pleasure or displeasure of traveling in your area several times. I could see a little bit of that concern. First off, it’s new technology. What happens if we’re in the middle of rush hour traffic and something happens? Not just anybody can come fix it.
Antoinette Jackson: Yes. People are so reliant on their cars to get to and from work here, and then we see it because one of our locations is near the railroad station. They’re very apprehensive to change something that’s worked for them.
Richard Young: Yes, I could definitely understand that. So that’s definitely something that you, as a future shop owner, look at and weigh the options of just how much do you invest? How much change is actually going to happen within the next two to three years?
Antoinette Jackson: Even with the towing industry, charging trucks are starting to become a thing. Where, if a vehicle were to need a charge, you would go out to them and charge it. It’s just not an investment we can make right now cause there’s not enough out there. Now, five or ten years from now, that’s definitely a possibility.
Richard Young: I hear that business degree coming out when thinking about that. That’s exciting.
Antoinette Jackson: They are putting out more and more charging stations, which I think is helpful. I’ve seen them popping up more and more around the area. So, I think the more people are confident that they can get somewhere, that they’ll be more confident to buy a vehicle.
Richard Young: Okay. So, as far as hybrid technology, is there many hybrids you see out there? Other than straight electric?
Antoinette Jackson: No.
Richard Young: No?
Antoinette Jackson: Like you said, it might just be that they don’t come to me because I don’t advertise myself as a hybrid tech. But, most of my customer base, if they had a hybrid vehicle they would bring it to me. Maybe one a month?
Richard Young: Yeah, well, the reason why I ask is that I just recently had a podcast with Jill Trotta, and she’s out in California and she owns a hybrid car.
Antoinette Jackson: Oh, yeah. She’s amazing.
Richard Young: She loves the hybrid car. And what I’m getting here is a difference in, first off, geographic region, from one side of the country to the other. And then, California and the emissions out there, they’ve really embraced the hybrid technology. And they’ve put in a lot of fueling stations. Where, in New York, Long Island, it’s not as prevalent. Even though New York’s emissions standards are probably as close to any state with California.
Antoinette Jackson: Yes. Agreed.
Richard Young: So, what’s next for Antoinette Jackson? Soon to graduate, you’re working, and you’re a busy mom. I know how busy moms can be and you’re just constantly on the go. If I were to ask you to do a keynote speech to a group of high school students that were getting ready to graduate, what would be the focus of your keynote speech?
Antoinette Jackson: Me personally, I would push towards the skilled trade. I would tell people to find something they love and a skill that they love to do. If it happens to be something college-based, like engineering, that’s amazing. But if you have a love for something, whether it be electrical, or plumbing, or working on cars. Embrace that. Because you want to do something you love for the rest of your life. Like I said, college isn’t for everyone. So sitting in a classroom or sitting in a cubicle might not be for them.
Richard Young: Right. And I can definitely understand that. Those are good words. I think, as a society, we’ve missed giving that information to the future of this industry, or to the country itself.
Antoinette Jackson: I could see it everywhere. Finding skilled tow truck drivers, or even CDL drivers are hard. Finding mechanics is hard. I see ads all the time for HVAC techs, and electricians, and plumbers, and masons, and such.
Richard Young: Yeah, the skilled trades, in general.
Antoinette Jackson: So, we have a lot of friends who own businesses and I’m starting to see it turn, though. To be honest.
Richard Young: So, you are starting to see a positive turn to where there are more individuals and employees that have some skill.
Antoinette Jackson: Or people wanting to learn. They may come in and say, “I’m not experienced. Are you willing to train?” And that’s so different. I went through a dry spell of, I would say, six to eight months where I paid for an ad, after ad, after ad. And I had no one answering the ads. And now I put an ad, and I get 10 phone calls. So whether they’re experienced or not, they want to learn, which is something that I didn’t have a few months ago.
Richard Young: Yeah, and if you have an employee that’s wanting to learn, and then with the techs that you have now to help guide, that’s definitely a positive step.
Antoinette Jackson: Sometimes it’s easier that way, I find. It’s harder at the beginning, but once you train someone the way you want things to be done, it’s a lot easier than training someone who has habits that aren’t conducive to your business.
Richard Young: Right. I’ve seen some great techs that were outstanding in being able to diagnose and repair. But they just didn’t fit the culture of the repair shop. So, being able to mold those two together would be advantageous to you. Even though, obviously, they could move to another location or another business. But there’s a quote out there that says, “It’s better to educate your employers and lose them than to not educate them and keep them.” Definitely a positive. So you have an outstanding resume, Antoinette. Obviously well based in the automotive industry. You’ve got two children that are enjoying it, coming up. Ten years, they’ll be moving into positions at the repair shop. What’s next? You talked about furthering your education. Is that one of your goals? What type of goals do you have?
Antoinette Jackson: I really want to invest a lot of my time into the business to help it grow. So that’s definitely where I’m planning on going. If they do have some diesel programs, our program is expanding at Suffolk, I would love to take on a night class here and there to increase my education. But I really want to dedicate all my time to the business and try to make it the best that I can.
Richard Young: That’s great. It’s going to make your parents proud. Obviously. So, we’ve taken up enough of your time. You’re actually at work now.
Antoinette Jackson: Yes.
Richard Young: You took a final this morning. You’ve got another final to take this afternoon, I believe.
Antoinette Jackson: And then one more tomorrow, and I’m done for the semester.
Richard Young: And then you’re done. Okay. I always like to ask this question. If you had any vehicle to choose from, and I had the ability to put that vehicle in your garage, what would that vehicle be?
Antoinette Jackson: It would be a 4-door Jeep Wrangler.
Richard Young: New, 4-door Jeep Wrangler.
Antoinette Jackson: Yeah. My first car was a 2-door Jeep Wrangler and I loved it. Bright yellow. I just loved the ability to customize them, to make it your own. And they’re great cars, as far as the 4-wheel drive. But now that I have kids, I need a 4-door. So, I’m so glad that they came out with that. And I hope to make that my next car.
Richard Young: Well good. I hope it is. So, like I said, we worked to find a time that you were able to do this podcast. You have a very busy schedule, and I appreciate you finding the time to be a guest. And I greatly appreciate your insights. I would like to keep the conversation open, and maybe in a year or two get you on a podcast again and see how things are going and how you see things changing because we really do appreciate the input that you can bring to our listeners. So I thank you for your time.
Antoinette Jackson: Well, thank you for having me.
Richard Young: Well, I appreciate it.
Antoinette Jackson: Anything to help the industry.
Richard Young: That’s true. That’s the goal. That’s one thing that I’ve always said. I’ve been in this industry 30+ years, and I’ve heard the shortage of technicians. I’ve heard that comment for probably the last eight to 10 years. And people would say it, and then they’d say, “Well, the industry needs to figure out how to fix that.” And truthfully, we are the industry, me, you, and everyone else. So we, as a group, need to decide and figure out how to solve that problem, and how to promote the industry. I think, one of the things that we have not done very well is promoting the industry, and what it takes to actually fix a car. Do you have any closing thoughts or opinions for our listeners?
Antoinette Jackson: No. I think we talked about a lot.
Richard Young: We did talk about a lot. And like I said, maybe in a year we can touch back together and discuss how things are moving along for the repair shops, and how that diesel emissions education is going.
Antoinette Jackson: Yes.
Richard Young: I appreciate the time you’ve given us. I want to let you get back to running the business. I’m sure that when you’re not there, they miss you. Until we talk again, Antoinette, thank you.
Antoinette Jackson: Thank you so much.
Episode #27 with Matt Buchholz – Having the Heart for People and Not Just Results
The 27th episode of Technician.Academy’s podcast series provides an enlightening discussion with the President and GM of MotoRad America, Matt Buchholz. Buchholz had humble beginnings in the automotive industry, starting as a lube technician then transitioning to the bay where he accumulated eleven ASE’s and Master Technician status. Buchholz grew as an industry thought leader and arrived where he is today at MotoRad America. In the podcast, Buchholz expresses his passion for people and the importance of managing individuals uniquely, as everyone is hardwired in different ways. Buchholz also discusses the current shortage of skilled workers in the United States, why he thinks this has become a problem, what we can do to alleviate the issue, and more. Tune in today.
Transcription - Episode 27
Richard Young: Welcome to today’s Technician.Academy Podcast. We’re fortunate enough to have Matt Bucholz from MotoRad. He is the president and general manager of MotoRad of America. Welcome, Matt.
Matt Bucholz: Thank you, Richard. It’s a pleasure to be on your podcast.
Richard Young: Well, the pleasure’s mine. Matt, you bring a very long history within the auto industry with you. And you know, you started out with humble beginnings in the bay. Then you’ve progressed up to the position you’re at. If you could, just give our listeners a brief summary of where you’ve been in the industry and where you’re at now.
Matt Bucholz: Absolutely. I appreciate the opportunity. It started for me over 20 years ago. Like many people I just needed a job. I looked for places that were hiring, and I found a place called Valvoline Instant Oil Change that was willing to hire me as a young guy and pay me minimum wage. And I spent the next several years working for that company understanding maintenance, automotive maintenance, and how to service customers. I’d learned that I had a passion for being customer-centric. At that time it was really a great point in my career and little did I know back then that I would stay in the automotive industry for the rest of my life.
I left Valvoline Instant Oil Change and went to Pep Boys because they were able to give me a little bit better work/life balance while I was going to college. At Pep Boys I realized that I wanted to learn more about the technical aspects of a vehicle. And so I transferred, I went from service advisor, communicating directly with customers, of course, to working back in the shop. They gave me that opportunity and I was forever thankful. I took advantage of all of their training at Pep Boys, everything that I could learn.
And then eventually I moved to Athens, Georgia where I had to leave Pep Boys and then went to work for Ford at a local dealership as a front-end technician. I was with Ford for a number of years as a technician and I took advantage of all of their training. I went through their entire program and was one 30-minute online class away from being a senior master technician with Ford during that tenure as well as taking advantage of all of the ASE testing that was available to me. I became a master tech with a L1 certification.
At one point I had 11 ASEs and that was just a great time of learning and challenge to just learn more and more about the automobile, how to fix it, how to repair it, and how to service customers.
Then I went to work for CarMax, and I thought that would be a career for me because CarMax was such a great place to work. Very customer-centric. I learned so much about leadership at CarMax and how to empower your employees to service the customer.
So, when I went to work for Standard Motor Products and got involved in the parts industry of the business and parts manufacturing, and worked for them for nearly 11 years in various roles. I was fortunate enough that they helped me develop, they allowed me to engage in leadership development, various classes, and training. Everything that I wanted to do, they were very supportive.
And then, as you mentioned, a couple years ago I joined MotoRad as the president and GM of MotoRad of America. And I’ve had the opportunity to work with just a great team, a humble team. I’ve gotten to know you, Richard, and Technician.Academy as well as your mission and how you guys support the automotive aftermarket and its technicians, and that’s been an absolute pleasure. My time at MotoRad’s been fantastic. It’s been full of challenge and full of opportunity.
I really have a passion for servicing customers and meeting with customers here. We’re a simple company that’s very customer-centric, that just really has a passion for being better. We believe that the industry deserves the best. The industry’s customers deserve the best service and support and MotoRad really has a heart for that. And that brings me to today.
Richard Young: Yeah, your history within the industry has been great and that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to get you on the podcast It’s very clear to see that you are about taking care of the customer and that fits right in with MotoRad. I was familiar with MotoRad prior to you coming onboard with them. It was great to see what you brought to the company. For the listeners out there, give them a brief description of what MotoRad is, their history, and their location. And part two of the question is what do you bring to MotoRad?
Matt Bucholz: MotoRad was founded 60 years ago by a gentleman by the name of Joseph Fishman. And Joseph Fishman was a star die maker in Israel and he worked in Haifa, Israel. He had a small tool and die shop that has grown to what we know as MotoRad today, which is a global company. Joseph Fishman really had a maniacal focus on the customer and meeting their needs. And that still holds true today 60 years later with MotoRad. We’ve really grown and invested a lot in technology and automation since that very humble beginning.
Our company started in 1958. We established our North American division in 1982, and later established Europe in 1991, then opened up Mexico and a Mexico DC and manufacturing operation in 2013. Most recently, we just opened up a distribution center in Asia, because Asia’s one of the fastest growing markets for new vehicle sales. It’s a huge market so we’re trying to service that market as well.
And throughout that, we’re a thermostat manufacturer. We’re in thermal management technology and the leader in North America. We’re the worldwide leader in innovation and design and manufacturing of thermostats, as well as closure caps such as fuel caps, oil caps, and radiator caps. So we’re a thermal management and closure cap manufacturer today.
My role at MotoRad is really strategic leadership and making sure that we’re focused on the customer, doing everything we can to create a value proposition and funnel that through to the customer. Our value proposition’s pretty simple. We want to excel in service. We want to be the absolute best service provider, whether it’s category management, inventory management, sales support, operationally efficient, and shipping at high levels to fill our customers’ orders.
And then on the coverage side, we want to be able to say, “Yes.” If we’re in the category, we want to have the part and have absolute full coverage. So I have to make sure that we stay focused on our value proposition as well as sticking to our core values.
Richard Young: Yeah, being a technician for 30+ years, I know the thermostat is an important piece in the operation of today’s vehicles and especially controlling temperature and making sure we have proper combustion and use of the engine. But you know, until I got associated with MotoRad I didn’t realize all the design and the technology that went into building a thermostat. That’s one of the things that I’ve learned being associated with MotoRad is the engineering that you guys go through to develop a product and to make sure it fits what the customer needs.
And then with the addition of caps and different gas caps and the way that works. I definitely believe that MotoRad is the leader in that category, and continues to innovate. Glad to see your movement to their company and what you bring to MotoRad.
You’ve got a little bit of a background at Northwood University. Could you tell us about that?
Matt Bucholz: When I was with Ford, I met a Ford engineer who was a smart guy that I looked up to. I asked him for some advice when I was three years into my four-year degree. I had said, you know, “I’ve got a little bit of undergrad left, is there a scholarship opportunity through Ford?” We had a conversation about that, which led to his recommendation to say to me, “If you’re going to stay in the automotive industry, you should consider Northwood University.” And at that time, I hadn’t heard of Northwood University. I lived in Georgia and Northwood University is in Michigan. And so I looked into it and I realized that they aligned very nicely with my values. They were focused on serving the automotive market, not just on the aftermarket side, but also on the dealer side as well.
I engaged with him and actually completed my undergraduate degree at Northwood. Ford gave me the opportunity to go there. I enjoyed my time at Northwood so much that I continued to pursue an education through them and got my MBA. Those were some of the best educational years of my life. Spending time with people that were like-minded, people from the industry talking about issues inside of the industry while we’re going through content that has prepared us to be better leaders inside of the industry. Northwood was such a special time to me and that I miss dearly.
Richard Young: Yeah, I hear that a lot. I’ve been fortunate enough to talk to a lot of Northwood graduates and I hear those same comments about the camaraderie, the being able to talk about the industry during your time there. So with that being said, if you had a young individual that was looking up to you as a mentor, being deeply involved in the automotive industry, and he asked you about Northwood, what would be your advice to him?
Matt Bucholz: I think with Northwood or any college, it’s really just they should get to know the school and the values, the belief system inside of it, look at the content, and really think about what’s would be best for them. I’ve spent a lot of time in my life talking to other people about their purpose, their hard wiring. And it’s connected to what you want to do with your life. We get a short life, and I feel like people matter and we should try to get the most out of it.
At Northwood, they should really get to know the staff at the school, what their heartbeat is like. They’re very much about free market. They empower students to not just listen, but to think. And I feel they teach you how to think at Northwood, which is maybe different from grade school or high school where it’s just, “Hey, listen. See if you can digest this information and then regurgitate it in a test.”
Northwood teaches you to think “big picture”, think strategically about the content. That’s important. They have a lot of different programs there. It’s not just automotive focused. They have management programs and finance programs too. They offer several degrees. I just happen to fall into the automotive section of their school.
Richard Young: So going back a little bit, you started at the age of 17 in the automotive industry. Had you thought about the automotive industry prior to that?
Matt Bucholz: Not necessarily. The funny thing is when my father taught me how to change the oil on my old Chevrolet truck, we drained the oil and put an oil filter on. He showed me how to do that and if he hadn’t stopped me I would have filled the oil all the way up to the top of the fill. I didn’t know that it took five quarts. I would have put 20 quarts in there until it was filled up to the top of the valve cover. I did not know anything about cars at the age of 16 or 17 when I started to drive. And I didn’t know that I had a passion for, or would have a passion for the automotive industry. The automotive industry, in general, is a special industry whether you’re on the dealership side or the car service side, or even the aftermarket parts side of the business.
What I found is that it’s about relationships, it’s about serving people. If you have a passion for serving people and if you really want to fulfill that passion, I think the automotive industry is a great place, whether you’re a technician or you’re a service advisor, or at any capacity in the industry. If you enjoy interacting with people and serving people, it’s a great place to be. That’s what I’ve discovered, is I love the people inside of the industry. And I’ve enjoyed that for the last 20 years. In every role that I’ve been in, it’s the people that I’ve been around and been able to serve that’s really driven me.
Richard Young: Yeah, I think you’re right; it’s the people and the relationships. That’s one thing about this industry, you build those relationships and those relationships are there for a lifetime. And so at 17, you started to develop a liking for the automotive industry. And now that you’ve been in it, you’ve moved up to a position with MotoRad. And over those years, and you may have already hit on it, what have you enjoyed the most and what do you enjoy the most about the automotive industry?
Matt Bucholz: In the very beginning when I worked at Valvoline, I started in the pit on summer days. It must have been well north of 100 degrees down there with hot steaming oil coming out of the bottom of the car. I sat down there and enjoyed it. On Saturdays, we would do 100 oil changes. I would listen to the customer interactions. I would, of course, service the cars and make sure that was done correctly, but I would also listen above ground to how customers are being serviced and communicated to.
That was such a special time. I spent a better part of a year down there listening to, I guess, the right way and the wrong way to do things. Everybody makes mistakes, so I would listen to the best practices in essence, on how to communicate with customers. That’s, going back to the people part of it.
Back then I had the opportunity to serve customers and for two years I ran one of their store locations. I wasn’t a very good manager or leader back then. I was good at servicing customers, which covered up my leadership inability; at the time I was only 19 years old.
Today my heart is really for the team. We have over 400 employees worldwide and in North America, we have approximately 150 employees. I realized I have a heart for people and not just results. Because at the end of the day, you have to balance relationships and results, and that’s what matters. You know, 20 years from now nobody’s going to remember me for the year that we had in 2017 or 2018 or any year. People are going to remember me for how I treated them, and it’s important to keep that in perspective.
Richard Young: And in our discussions, you mentioned that you were a certified practitioner through Myers Briggs. Explain to the listeners what kind of value that brings to MotoRad.
Matt Bucholz: Along the lines of the notion that people matter, it’s that everybody’s different. Understanding that you and I are going to be different. Everybody’s born one way. They’re nurtured one way and then they make choices throughout life that shapes who they are today. Every single person is unique and every person needs to be managed that way. And I realized probably a decade ago that I was treating people, in essence, the same. And it was working, but yet it wasn’t working. And sometimes the outcomes from a leadership standpoint weren’t the best.
So I, being a competitive person, wanted to get better. I realized that there was a way to bring the best out in people. And that was by listening to people and understanding them, understanding how they’re hardwired or how they were nurtured and the choices that they made and how they were shaped. Then, when you layer that on top of the job that they’re in you see that there are people doing jobs today that they probably shouldn’t be in. They are afraid to leave the job or do something else because it’s security for them. But maybe they’re not as energized about the job as they should be.
So Myers Briggs was a way for me to understand how people are hardwired and then I would be able to lead them better and help them make better decisions about the job that they’re doing. And if being a salesperson, for example, you don’t enjoy the social aspect of sales then you should probably consider another trade. By understanding Myers Briggs I’m able to work with people to help them understand their innate tendencies, and help lead them into being in a correct job.
Richard Young: Yeah, I could definitely see where that training would help you in bringing a very rich and robust leadership team to help move MotoRad forward in the future. By understanding their weaknesses as well as tendencies and putting them in the position where they will excel is very important.
Matt Bucholz: Yes, I’ll give you one example. Recently, we were hiring a senior team member and we went through Myers Briggs which is a lengthy process. I can’t just send you a link and you take an online assessment. There’s an element of that, but there’s also a significant debriefing element. Going through that process allows the candidate an opportunity to get to know me in a way that they’ve probably never gotten to know anybody. Because once you understand who you are and how you’re wired, then you can begin to understand how I am.
So as a leader, I can tell them, “All right, working for me or working for whoever you’re going to be working for, these are the blind spots. Right? These are the things that as you begin to work for them, you might find to be easy and this is what might be hard.”
And I’ll give you one example. Some 50% of the population is very project manager oriented, and 50% is “pressure of a deadline” oriented. All right?
Richard Young: Yes.
Matt Bucholz: So that’s an interesting thing, so if you’re somebody who is the project management type, meaning that if you have a goal a month away, you’re going to start on that task or that goal today. And you’re going to start actually working on it. Whereas somebody who is more pressure of a deadline person, you’re going to probably think about it, but you’re not going to get any tangible work done until pretty close to the deadline.
So when those two people work together and interact, it can create tension. It doesn’t matter if you’re a technician, service advisor, or owner. Whoever you are, that “marriage”, that can create tension. That’s just one example of many, but just understanding who you’re working for is important. So if somebody’s going to work for me they need to understand my tendency, and if I understand theirs, I can identify blind spots before we engage in a working relationship. We can anticipate some of the gaps that we might go through. And that’s a very healthy process for us.
Richard Young: And not only is that good for the corporation, but it’s good for the employee. He or she may be thinking that a position is what they want, but being able to go through that process and determine if you’re a good fit for this position. It leads to a healthier life, which is great.
Here at Technician.Academy, you know one of our goals is to educate and train tomorrow’s technicians along with today’s technicians. And with your background, I’d hate to guess how many hours of training you’ve had in both automotive repair, automotive management, and leadership training. But let’s focus back to the person who opens the box and takes out a MotoRad thermostat and is getting ready to install a new MAP thermostat on a new model vehicle, how important is their training? How important is it to have a qualified, trained technician doing the install?
Matt Bucholz: So, cars have changed so fast. I joined this industry right on the cusp of the OBD2, right around the mid-90s. And that was the beginning of the electrification of vehicles. In the beginning, I feel like it made service a lot easier and less complicated in a way. At least for people that were able to embrace the technology. And then today, I don’t know if I’m qualified anymore to be a technician, even with all of the training that you mentioned, because I’ve been out of it for a while.
It’s not getting any easier. I think it’s just getting more challenging in new ways. There’s where we are today and then there’s the future of technology and the increased electrification and how technicians today really have to understand, not necessarily how a primary and secondary winding and a firing pattern of the ignition system, but now they have to understand networks and computer networks.
And there’s so much more around sensors and actuators. So sensor and actuator content on vehicles have increased probably at least 10 fold in the last decade, probably more than that. And that’s been in thermostats, too. For 80 years, thermostats were traditionally unchanged for the most part. Pretty much a mechanical product that reacts to temperature change. And today, they are computer controlled. They have elements of both and so something as simple as a thermostat and diagnosing a thermostat is a lot more complex than it was 20 years ago when I started in the industry.
So, being trained on all of those things like you mentioned. Computer-controlled thermostats called map thermostats and just being trained on what that is and why choose that thermostat when you go to purchase one. It’s not $9 or $10. It’s now $100 or $200, and being able to understand and communicate it to your service advisor so that he can explain it to the customer. The average cost of repair has increased. The technology on vehicles is accelerating at a pretty fast rate and that’s what we’re all focused on in the industry right now.
The challenge, of course, in our industry is making sure that we’re trained and have the ability to repair all of the cars that come into our bays on a daily basis.
Richard Young: Yes, you mentioned something extremely important and I want to take a little bit of a side note to discuss. It’s that service manager or service advisor, that they understand they’ve got to have the soft skills to develop that relationship with the customer. They’ve also got to have the knowledge of how the vehicle works and not necessarily an in-depth knowledge, but the basic knowledge where they can explain something to the customer. Like you said, that thermostat used to be $10-12. Now it can range up way above $100.
So it’s definitely changed. The industry continues to change. And you know, we talk about the shortage of technicians. I’ve been in discussions where some say there’s not a shortage of technicians, but I believe, and correct me if you have different thoughts, but I believe that we don’t have a shortage of people able to turn a wrench, but I truly believe we have a shortage of people being able to diagnose, for instance, that map thermostat. I think that shortage is there. We’ve been talking about it for quite some time. You know, and how do you see the automotive aftermarket, how do you see them needing to change or to help effect, in a positive way, that shortage of technicians?
Matt Bucholz: In short I think it takes great organizations like Technician.Academy and people like yourself that really have a passion for the industry to provide that training. But then I’ll zoom out a little bit. I believe it’s not just an automotive aftermarket problem or an automotive industry problem. It’s really a US problem. There’s a shortage of skilled workers in the US and there’s also a shortage of skilled technicians that are a part of those skilled workers.
I think there’s an estimate that I read recently that said something like there’s a shortage of 5.8 million skilled workers in the US. And that skills gap is likely due to people that go through life and they say, “All right, what’s the perfect career” or “what’s the right career to be in?” Everybody’s competing for those jobs where you sit maybe behind a desk, or whatever that job is. But the opportunity for so many people that are wired for skilled work, working with their hands, diagnosing vehicles, the automotive market is a great place.
And to your point, if you’re well trained and well equipped, then you can make a very good living in the automotive market, especially now with supply and demand and there being a shortage, everybody wants a skilled technician. Every great shop wants a skilled technician. It’s a great job for the right person. I know just working at as a senior executive at a midsize company, people are my primary focus, making sure that we find skilled people. And it’s going to be that way whether you own a repair shop or a group of repair shops.
There’s so much value and people are willing to pay for that skill. It’s such a great opportunity, but I think also in the US, in the industry and in trade schools and technical colleges, we need to get better about recruiting people to the industry, letting them know where the opportunities are in the industry and then what skills you need to develop so that you can make a great living. Not a good living, a great living in this industry. There are so many jobs.
Look I started out as a technician and I was a technician for a long time and loved it. And then today, I’m able to do something different. But when I made that transition from being a technician to being more on the parts and service side of the business, there’s not a day that goes by where I don’t lean on the technical training that I was immersed in for so many years. That’s what adds value to my daily job right now.
So it could be a launch pad, right? Being a technician could be a launch pad for other things, or it can be a career for your entire life. It can take you to educating and training other technicians. It can take you to so many different places, but we have to help. You and I and other people in the industry have to really be engaged and intentional about letting people know where the opportunities are.
The view of the traditional mechanic is in the pit changing the oil. That’s the kind of the view of technicians and that’s not a fact. That’s not actual. Skilled technicians are very professional. They’re working on computers, they’re plugging in computers. They have to understand networks and multiplexing. Telematics in the future. That’s exciting and high tech stuff, and that’s going to pay. The students and technicians that are able to step up to that level with their training are going to be in high demand. They’re in high demand today and they’re going to be even more so in the future. That’s exciting for our industry.
Richard Young: Yes, it is. The automotive industry has not been very good at portraying a good image of that technician in the bay. And I think that’s something that, here at Technician.Academy, we really strive to change. We’re working daily to change that, and I know MotoRad has some of the same ideas.
So the future is coming up. I mean we’re just now into 2018. What are some of the goals that MotoRad has for the future in relation to the technician and the industry itself?
Matt Bucholz: Well the industry is moving quickly now as I eluded to earlier around some of the technologies that are trending. And for us, it’s just to be really intentional about those trends because the technologies don’t go away. They just accelerate. So really making sure that we’re tuned into that, and then figuring out how we can even leverage them to service our customer.
The great thing about some of the technology that’s out there now is, just like Technician.Academy is doing, you can use digital media to reach so many people. As a technician today, if you want to fix a car the right way, there’s so much digital media that’s out there as well as the classroom training.
A lot of technicians that are entering the industry now, they learn probably different than I did. I’m a hands-on learner. I’m not the type of guy that can read a textbook and understand how to do something. Some people might be able to do that, but I’m a pretty hands-on guy. I think a lot of people coming in now might be, they might have to watch some digital media, study that a little bit, combined with hands-on training to learn how to do these things.
And I think for MotoRad, we just have to make sure we’re engaged in those avenues, helping people understand the trends in thermostats, the trends in our categories, engaging with and supporting companies and trade schools that are engaged and making sure that, as an industry, we are doing everything we can to keep qualified skilled technicians in the bays of the aftermarket specifically, but also the automotive marketing in general, because there are tremendous opportunities there. I think as an industry we have to get behind it.
MotoRad’s a part of several industry organizations that have committees that are focused on these things. So making sure that we’re supporting those committees and just really engaged with the technician. Also, making sure that we’re supporting digitally and fiscally supporting the right organizations that are focused on bringing in, recruiting, and training great technicians.
Richard Young: Yes. As a corporation and being fortunate enough to work for a major manufacturer in the past, the training of that technician is extremely important in the bottom line of any corporation. Being a training manager for several years I always said I can’t guarantee the improvement of sales through training, but I can guarantee the reduction in returns through training. I’ve seen it and proved it many times. Correct me if I’m wrong, but training and education have moved you and your drive has moved you from the pit, underneath the car changing the oil in a hot summer, to the position you’re at now, helping to guide a corporation. But you still have those tendencies to use that training or that technician viewpoint.
You know, Matt, one of the things that I always like to find out and our listeners enjoy is if you had the opportunity to deliver a keynote speech to a group of high school students on their career day, and this is the complete gamut of high school students, not just automotive. What would your focus of that speech be to those high school students?
Matt Bucholz: My focus would really be around them trying to understand, not necessarily a purpose in your passion, but your skills and where your skills are. Don’t be afraid to try things. Don’t be afraid to try different things in the automotive space, in the automotive aftermarket. Don’t be afraid of failure. Absolutely, don’t be afraid of failure. And I also think fundamentally people matter. When you go through life make sure that you pause. Don’t overwork.
Don’t just be constantly focused on the next step, the next thing in life, especially now with the younger generation. Connectivity is so important with people, having that emotional intelligence to be able to connect with people. People are becoming more connected through devices, which isn’t a bad thing necessarily unless it’s taking the place of personal connectivities. I think those things are the trends that I’m seeing. Don’t be afraid.
Don’t feel like you’ve got to be a master of anything in your 20’s for instance. Your 20’s is your time to try. If you’re a technician, try working on transmissions and engines or electronics or steering and suspension. You try different things. Your 20’s and even in your 30’s is the time for you to try different things, healthy things. Because it’s not until probably your 40’s and 50’s where you become a master of anything. So figuring out what you’re going to become a master of is really what the early career is for.
For me, I went on that journey of the pit to a technician, service advisor, back to a technician, then back to a kind of management role, and then kind of moving through that. That whole journey prepared me for where I am today. And I was not qualified 20 years ago to do what I’m doing today. It takes a balance of experience in various parts of the industry.
I’m a sales and marketing person by trade. It’s probably where my purpose is centered, around strategy, but really sales and marketing is my background. That takes time to figure out. There are people that are operational minded, financially minded, sales or marketing minded, and it takes time to figure that out. It helps to have mentors and guides. They guide you through that, but I would say don’t feel like you’ve got to rush into something and figure out life on day one when you’re leaving technical school, trade school, or college.
Richard Young: I think those are very good words. Having a mentor or mentors is extremely valuable. Sometimes you don’t realize the value of a mentor until two or three years later, the value that the individual brought to your life.
So, Matt, we’ve been here talking and brought out some enlightening pieces. I’ve enjoyed the time together, enjoyed the discussion. You know, one of the things I like to hear is your goals for the future and with that, what are your thoughts that you want to give to the listener?
Matt Bucholz: I’ll rewind it real quick, and before I mention my goals. But you touched on something just a second ago that I think is important too, that I’ve realized later in my career that I wish I knew earlier in my career. I was fortunate to have great leaders throughout my career, but not in every instance. So I would say who you work for is almost more important than the company you work for. The person you work for is more important than the company, because if you work for a person that cares about you and pours into you and mentors you, then that person will truly help you to reach your goals because they are worried about you. They are not necessarily focused on themselves.
There’s probably a leadership epidemic in this country, and it’s because there are so many leaders that are all about themselves and not necessarily truly focused and generally focused on their direct reports. So I think that’s also one little bit of advice centered around mentors. Who you work for is more important than the company you work for. The person is more important than the company.
My goals and MotoRad’s goals are to continue to innovate customer service. I constantly believe in better and strive for better and our team does. We’re not perfect. No companies are. So there’s a friend of mine and mentor that said the largest room in the world is the room for improvement. And I believe that. I believe that it doesn’t matter how many awards you win. There’s always room for improvement and I will never rest on that. I think the industry can go so much farther. We can serve customers better and better and better. And we’ll continue to try to innovate and build tools around really enhancing that service model.
Richard Young: In the two short years that I’ve known you, Matt; I truly believe that those statements are true from you. I see that in your relationship with your team. I see that in your personal relationships. So I’m thankful for that. And it’s good words to think about. There’s always room for improvement.
I remember when I was a young technician and OBD2 come out. I say young, younger than I am now. But some of the older techs that I thought were pretty good, they were scared to death of it. They thought they were going to be replaced by a computer. I know of a few that completely quit the industry, because they chose not to improve, not to get training, not to learn about the control and how it operated the vehicle.
So you know, there’s always room for improvement. I truly believe that. I see that through MotoRad and through you and your leadership team. And I thank you for that. I thank you for the time you gave us here on Technician.Academy. I know your time is valuable, and we’ve tried a couple times to get together and bring this podcast together and I appreciate you working towards that. I wish MotoRad a prosperous 2018 and I wish you a prosperous 2018.
Matt Bucholz: Thank you, Richard.
Richard Young: I thank you and I thank you on behalf of Technician.Academy, and from the listeners. This is a podcast that I truly believe the listeners need to hear. So, Matt, I’ll let you get back to what you need to get done today, and I thank you again for your time.
Matt Bucholz: Yes, Richard. Thank you and same to you. I wish Technician.Academy the best in 2018. I know you have big goals and a big vision for the industry and I appreciate what you and Technician.Academy do for the industry and for the technicians and everybody in the industry. So thank you very much. Thank you for the time. I really enjoyed our conversation today.
Richard Young: All right, Matt. Thank you.
Episode #26 with Jake Tully – The Future of the Automotive industry
In Episode #26 of Technician.Academy’s podcast series, podcast guest Jake Tully, winner of the 2017 ASE Technician of the Future Award, discusses why he decided to dive into the automotive industry in the first place and what his thoughts are on the future of the industry and his career. Tully attended Universal Technical Institute (UTI) from 2016-2017 and has received multiple awards in the years since his graduation from high school, including over a dozen Director’s List awards and ten Student of the Course awards at UTI. Tully recently accepted an auto tech position for the BMW Store in Cincinnati, OH and brings a lot of youth and excitement to this podcast. Tune in today.
Transcription - Episode 26
In episode 26 of the Technician Academy podcast, Richard talks with guest Jake Tully. Jake is the winner of the 2017 ASE Technician of the Future award. They discuss why Jake decided to dive into the automotive industry and what his thoughts are on the future of the industry and his career. We hope that enjoy episode 26 of the Technician Academy podcast.
Richard Young: Welcome to today’s Technician Academy podcast. We’re fortunate enough to have Jake Tully with us today. He was ASE Technician of the Future award for 2017. Welcome, Jake.
Jake Tully: Hi Richard. Thank you for having me.
Richard Young: Thanks for being a part of this. It’s exciting to have a young future technician on the podcast and to get your ideas and your perspective on what’s going on in the industry.
Jake Tully: Thank you. It’s very exciting to be here. I definitely can’t wait to see what happens in the automotive industry in these next three years of my lifetime. I’m excited to see what happens.
Richard Young: And it’s going to change drastically. I’ve been in the industry 35 plus years, and it’s changed a lot. It’s probably changed more in the last five than it changed in the previous 30.
Jake Tully: Yeah, and I’m sure there’s going to be a lot more changes throughout my career here as well.
Richard Young: Absolutely. So just give us a brief rundown of where you’re at and where you have been and where you’re going.
Jake Tully: So I’m officially back home for good. I’m from Alexandria, Kentucky and I moved down to Orlando, Florida to attend an automotive technician school called Universal Technical Institute. I moved there May of last year, and that was a 51-week program. So I went through their automotive program and then I got into their BMW Step Program after that. So that started back in August, and I just graduated last week, and I’m officially back here with a job lined up in Cincinnati.
Richard Young: So not just any job. You’re working at BMW, is that correct?
Jake Tully: Yes, it’s the BMW store in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Richard Young: Now where? What will your position be once you get to the store?
Jake Tully: What they do is, they have four levels of technicians, level four being the entry-level technician and level one being the master technician. So BMW Step trains you to go out into the field as a level three technician. So I’ll be a little up from an entry-level technician, but not quite high enough to be a master technician of course but … So they’ll bring me on, and I’ll start training under foreman and then eventually they’ll let me go on my own. So I’m excited to see where it goes.
Richard Young: Just in the brief discussions we’ve had, I can see you want to become that master technician.
Jake Tully: Oh, yes definitely. I’m very driven. I want to … You know I’ve always kind of had the mentality that I want to do my best and make an impact in this industry, and on the dealership as well. I want to be that above and beyond technician and make a positive impact.
Richard Young: So this is quite an award, ASE Technician of the Future award. What was involved in applying for that opportunity? Did you apply for it yourself or did peers suggest it?
Jake Tully: No, I did not. I had no clue of these awards, and specifically, I had no clue of the Technician of the Future award. The Technician of the Future award is given to the highest score on the G1 ASE among students across the country. I had no idea about this when I took the G1 ASE so just to be able to put that on the resume is a very valuable recommendation to have.
Richard Young: So you took the ASE G1 test. To win this award, you had to be the top out of all the students that took that test?
Jake Tully: Yes, that is correct. I had no clue it was coming up, and I got a call from one of the directors who set up the whole event. And she called me asking me questions to see if I was a student and if I was a student at the time that I took the ASE test. So it turns out she called me a few days later and told me about this award, and as I said, I had no clue about it. And she was like, “Man you really don’t seem excited enough about this. I don’t think you understand how big of a deal it is.” So I looked it up and realized this really is a big deal. It seems like there were plenty of students out there who took this ASE and turns out I got the highest score. So I’m very … I’m very proud of that for sure.
Richard Young: Well you should be. So in winning the award, what are you given by ASE?
Jake Tully: So ASE themselves sent me $250.00 just to cover costs while we were in San Diego for the award’s ceremony. And they also covered pretty much everything from the plane tickets to the rental car to the food while we were staying there. Then Mitchell 1, the sponsor of my award, gave me a thousand dollar cash award on top of that. So it was very nice.
Richard Young: Do you have a subscription with some of the Mitchell products?
Jake Tully: I do not, but I am familiar with their products. I was in an independent garage for about a year coming out of high school, and we used Mitchell every day. So I’m very familiar with their products, and I like what they have to offer.
Richard Young: Well, I commend you for being the top in the G1, but also at UTI you received some awards too.
Jake Tully: Yes, I did.
Richard Young: Give us a rundown on what those were.
Jake Tully: So UTI has a few different awards they like to give out and one of them is the Student of the Course award. UTI offers 17 courses throughout the 51-week program, and I got ten Student of the Course awards out of the 17. On top of that, they also have what they call a Director’s List award, which you have to have a 90% or above in all categories of three consecutive classes. So since there were 17 classes, I got Director’s List in 15 of them, which means I received all the Director’s List awards I was capable of achieving.
Richard Young: You have to have three consecutive courses before you can actually win the first one?
Jake Tully: Yes, correct. So those first two classes you have no chance of getting it, but after that, it kind of keeps going on from there.
Richard Young: So the contact person thought you weren’t excited enough, is that right?
Jake Tully: That’s right. I had no clue of what this award was or how big of a deal it was, and once I looked it up, I said, “Wow, this really is a big deal. It seems like a great event.” And from what I experienced in San Diego, it really was. It was a fantastic event; it was well planned and very nice. It was a great experience.
Richard Young: So when was that? When was that event and when was that awarded to you?
Jake Tully: That was two weeks ago. I believe it was on November 14th. They flew me out to San Diego and had a reception on Tuesday, just getting to know everybody, getting to know my sponsor and meeting all of the ASE board. And then the next day they had some breakfast and lunch buffets for us, and then we went to another reception before the actual ceremony on Wednesday. Just to meet up with my sponsor and get prepared and seated. Then we had a very nice dinner, and the ceremony carried on after. The ceremony was a wonderful experience.
Richard Young: That’s great. While you were at UTI, did you have an idea of such a thing could be possible?
Jake Tully: No, I didn’t. I mean I’ve always strived to push myself harder than anyone else out there. I really want to be the best of the best. I always push to do my best, and these awards just came as a surprise to me. I always push myself, but I really didn’t expect to get this far. So I’m really excited to have gotten as far as I have with these awards.
Richard Young: It’s definitely something to be excited about. So of all the occupations out there, why did you choose automotive?
Jake Tully: I’ve always had a passion for cars. Ever since I was a kid from playing with toy cars to playing the video games, I’ve always had a passion for cars. And I’ve always had the idea of getting a career with something in the automotive industry. I started going to college to lean towards the automotive engineering side of the industry, and at the same time I was working at this independent garage, and I loved every minute of it. I loved being in the shop; I loved getting dirty, getting my hands on the cars and that is what sold it for me. I need to be a technician.
Richard Young: You started out down the engineering path but when you sank your teeth in it you might say, and working on a car, that’s what drew you in?
Jake Tully: Exactly. I’ve always loved the idea of working on cars and stuff like that but back when I was in high school; I would’ve never thought I would make a career out of it. But I can tell you that I did not regret my decision one bit, I decided to become a technician.
Richard Young: So you quit going to college for the engineering and then you took up going to UTI and 51 weeks. Were those 51 weeks continuous?
Jake Tully: Yes, it’s continuous. UTI is three-week classes, so you have the option that you can take what they call leave of absence, and you can leave for three or six weeks through two class periods. I never decided to do that, and I just wanted to get it done as quickly as possible. I never took leave of absence, so it was a straight 51-week program. It was very intense.
Richard Young: Where did you take that program?
Jake Tully: Well this was in Orlando, Florida. And the BMW program I went into after that is in the same complex. So it’s a separate facility but in the same complex, and that’s what really drove me to choose the Orlando campus because they had the BMW program there. I always had the idea that maybe I’d like to work for BMW one day and here I am.
Richard Young: Let’s step back just a little bit. In high school, was there an automotive program there?
Jake Tully: Yes. However, I did not take advantage of it. They had built a state-of-the-art vocational school with an automotive program around my sophomore year. Junior and senior years are when I could’ve been in that program. But as I explained earlier, I really had no intentions of becoming a technician, so I took all the engineering classes in high school. You know working on CAD designs and programs like that. I never really took advantage of our vocational school, but it is a nice state-of-the-art facility. There were actually two other schools in the county that would come to this same facility for the vocational training. So it’s a very high end and a very nice facility, but I just didn’t take advantage of it.
Richard Young: Do you feel that the little bit of engineering background you received will help you in the automotive repair industry?
Jake Tully: I believe if I were to go above the technician level and maybe more towards the engineering side, that could definitely have helped me out a little a bit more. But as far as being a technician, the classes I took were pretty much all on the computer. It wasn’t really a hands-on style of class. The majority of being a technician is hands-on. So there’s not too much I’ve benefited from with the engineering classes towards becoming a technician.
Richard Young: I always make the joke, as technicians we don’t necessarily care for engineers. Just because sometimes they put a water pump or a heater core in a place that just doesn’t make any sense to a technician. As a technician, we stand back, and we look at a way a car is built and think why did they put that there? Why couldn’t they have done it this way?
Jake Tully: And we’re thinking, we should’ve engineered these cars.
Richard Young: Absolutely. You know those five and six-hour heater core replacements, there’s got to be an easier way.
Jake Tully: That’s right.
Richard Young: What drew you to the UTI location you attended other than the BMW Step being there? Plus you mentioned that you were interested in BMW before that, why?
Jake Tully: I’ve always had a passion for the German vehicles and being in that independent garage showed how much more complex they are to work on compared to working on say a Japanese or American vehicle. And when I would struggle with these German cars in the shop, it just drove me to say; I want to master this. I want to get better at this. So I tend to drive myself to do something that is a little more challenging than working on other styles of vehicles.
Richard Young: You made a drastic change going from engineering to hands-on automotive repair. You’ve mentioned that you have the drive and want to perform to your best. So that leads to what Technician.Academy is. We always strive to get as much information to tomorrow’s technicians as possible and help them to be better at their job. You can have a student that comes directly out of high school and go into the automotive industry. But that extra foundation of education that you gained, for example, at UTI or could’ve gained at a community college with an automotive program, what value do you think that brings to the bay?
Jake Tully: I can I speak on both sides of this because right after I came out of high school, I worked at an independent garage for a year. So I started that job not knowing much about cars and never really had touched a car before. I was utterly untrained at that level, so I stuck by the shop owner, and he led me through everything and took me under his wing. After I got done with UTI and now going in as a trained technician, it’s bringing a lot of value to the employer. Not only do I have that knowledge of being able to understand how these cars function, but now how to repair them and diagnose them properly.
I also have those extra hand skills. When I have a problem with some bolt or something, I know what to do now. That additional training is not only knowledge-based but hands-on as well. It’s definitely a great investment for these employers to seek a trained technician who will fix these vehicles properly. Specifically, with BMW, I’m able to go to the dealership and do the majority of the warranty work on these cars. Which with BMW, I believe, they’re up close to 90% of what comes into the dealerships is warranty work. If I were to just walk into the dealership without the training credentials I have, I wouldn’t be able to touch any of these warranty cars. So it’s a tremendous added value for employers to hire the trained technicians.
Richard Young: Yes, and with the way cars and the technology within the automotive industry is evolving as we mentioned before, having that training foundation like what you developed through UTI and BMW is a definite advantage. Technicians should be a little more confident in what they’re doing what they’re getting ready to do. When repairing or diagnosing a car, there is some confidence required.
Jake Tully: For sure.
Richard Young: I’m sure advisors, and peers have talked to you in the past about this industry. At your age, how do you see this industry evolving from the service side?
Jake Tully: From the service side? I think these cars are going to become a lot easier to diagnose with all the electronics and computer systems being able to tell us exactly where to go and start hunting for the problems. Although the cars are getting more complex, I believe they’re going to start becoming simpler for technicians to diagnose. As far as I know, BMW is now completely turbocharging all their vehicles. All of them are direct-injected, and all of them have what we call the VANOS and Valvetronic systems, which are fully variable intake and exhaust valve timing and valve lift. The electronics we have now will be used to tell us where to go to start looking for problems. This will make diagnosis a little easier on the technician.
Richard Young: Yes, and they are going to become very sophisticated in the way they are controlled, and it would take a long time for a high school student without the foundation that you have to be able to go in there and understand how to diagnose that type of system.
Jake Tully: That’s right.
Richard Young: While you were at BMW, how many weeks was that?
Jake Tully: BMW is 16 weeks.
Richard Young: Were you on-site at the BMW facility for that entire period?
Jake Tully: Yes. The BMW training facility was completely separate from UTI, and they were a lot stricter there than they were at UTI. They really set it up to get you ready to go out and be on your own in these dealerships. We started school at six in the morning and left at two PM every day of the week.
Richard Young: How many students were in the program at the same level that you were?
Jake Tully: In our program, there were 15 starting out, and 11 graduated.
Richard Young: Wow.
Jake Tully: They’re very strict not only getting into the program but also maintaining. If they don’t think that you’re going to be able to perform well at the dealership, they’ll cut you. They have no problem cutting you. They’re very strict on that.
Richard Young: So were there other options when you left UTI? Could you have gone to some other dealership or OE level?
Jake Tully: Yes. UTI partners with I believe over 30 different manufacturers. So they have a lot of different ways to get in with pretty much any dealership you want. Even if I decided to go back to an independent, just having that UTI credit itself would help me to get into an independent garage as well.
Richard Young: So speaking of garages, is there a goal in the back of Jake Tully’s mind of being a shop owner someday?
Jake Tully: I’ve always considered that. I’ve always had that leadership mentality. I believe I could become maybe a service manager one day, but I couldn’t see myself owning a shop at this point. At this day and age I know there’s a lot of risks, there’s also a lot of rewards if it all goes well. But there’s definitely a lot of risk in owning a shop. I just don’t think that’s the kind of responsibility I’d like to take on when I could really advance at the dealership level. I want to move up to becoming a master tech, and then maybe shop foreman, service manager, and then going above and beyond that to going corporate one day. That’s really where I see my career going.
Richard Young: What would you say is your long-term goal within the BMW organization?
Jake Tully: I say I’d like to become service or general manager for a dealership one day. I like having that leadership role, and I believe I could do really well at it.
Richard Young: Oh, that’s good. That’s good that you’ve made that separation of you understand the values and the risk/reward portion of being a shop owner.
Jake Tully: Yes.
Richard Young: It can be rewarding. It can be very risky too. And just in talking to you I’m not going to rule that out on my end. But I think you’re very driven.
Jake Tully: Yes.
Richard Young: But whether it is BMW or a Chevrolet Malibu, what’s your favorite system on a car to diagnose?
Jake Tully: I’d have to say engine diagnostics. There’s a feeling of pride when a car comes in running rough or not starting, and being able to go in and diagnose that car, fix it then get it running right again and get it back to the customer. There’s a sense of accomplishment. It’s your job, it’s what you’re supposed to do, but I get a real sense of pride out of fixing engines.
Richard Young: Fixing it where there are no more drivability issues. So it’s performing for the customer like it should.
Jake Tully: Yes.
Richard Young: When did you graduate high school?
Jake Tully: I graduated high school in 2015, and that’s when I went straight into that independent garage.
Richard Young: So here we are 2017, two years later. You’ve got UTI graduation, you’ve got BMW Step program. It’s been a pretty fast two years for you, I’m sure.
Jake Tully: Definitely.
Richard Young: What do you see in the next five years that’s going to change this industry?
Jake Tully: I think that within these next five years there’s definitely going to be a lot more electric and hybrid cars. That’s something that a lot of these technicians are going to have to start training on and learning. I’m sure there’s going to be a huge amount of these hybrid and electric cars coming out, and we’ll need technicians that can diagnose and fix these types of cars. One of my instructors told me that BMW, within the next five to ten years, is coming out with around 23 different hybrids and fully electric vehicles. So I think these kinds of vehicles will definitely change this industry big time.
Richard Young: I agree. The industry’s going to change drastically within the next few years. You mentioned something about the technicians needing to be educated.
Jake Tully: Yes.
Richard Young: I’m sure you’ve been around some older technicians. What if you had a few moments to tell a room full of older technicians who have been in this industry let’s say 15 to 20 years, what would you tell them?
Jake Tully: Oh man.
Richard Young: I sprung that on you. And the reason why Jake is because I want us older guys to understand that we need the younger technician moving into the industry.
Jake Tully: Yes.
Richard Young: And if we plan on staying in it, we need to be able to understand what needs to be done stay there.
Jake Tully: That’s right. I would just tell them, don’t think you know everything and always have that room to advance yourself and learn more every day. As this industry changes, the technicians are going to need to change as well and to adapt to be able to continue and properly fix and diagnose these cars. You always have to have an open mind to learning more and more. Continue evolving as the as the technology evolves.
Richard Young: Absolutely. That’s good advice. In your lifetime, do you think we’ll see something as crazy as the Jetson flying automobile?
Jake Tully: I’d love to see that, but I don’t know about in my lifetime. Because not only creating the technology to make that possible but also the regulations they’re going to have to implement for them. I don’t think we’ll see anything that crazy in my lifetime, but I believe in my lifetime it’s going to be a lot more advancements such as more of these hybrid and fully electric cars.
Richard Young: What about autonomous vehicles? Whether it is taxicabs or something on the line of Uber where the car doesn’t have a driver, it just shows up to pick you up.
Jake Tully: I didn’t think about that. But yeah, I believe that could happen in my lifetime as well. I know BMW, they have a lot of their hybrid and seven series and five series, and they can park their self now. We’re already kind of leaning towards that way. But I’m also somewhat worried about autonomous vehicles already starting to be created and the required testing. I’m not sure where it is, but I believe some statistic I heard when I was at UTI, they said by 2018 they’re going to have a fully autonomous vehicle available on the market. I don’t know if I believe that but it’s definitely possible, and I definitely think we’ll see that within my lifetime.
Richard Young: Well I’ll be honest, I commute about an hour when I come into the office and if I had an autonomous vehicle that I could get in and tell it “let’s go to work,” I’m sure I would be ready for that.
Jake Tully: There’s definitely a big change there for sure. And there’s going to be a lot of trust in technology. We’re going to have to figure how well these cars are going to be able to react with other human drivers driving on the road. And if there’s an accident, who’s going to be at fault? What happened to cause the accident? There are definitely a lot of risks trusting technology with that kind of power.
Richard Young: A vehicle that’s autonomously driven, so the computer is making the decisions from processors and microprocessors are their reaction always guaranteed? If you truly believe in electronics, their reaction is guaranteed. It’s that other driver, the human factor that is not guaranteed.
Jake Tully: Yes, exactly. And you don’t know how that human is going to react to the way the other car is reacting. Plus the other car is not going to be able to interpret what that person’s going to do. There’s a big risk there.
Richard Young: Definitely. Yes, a big risk to say the least.
Jake Tully: That’s right.
Richard Young: So you’re out of high school, out of college, and definitely not done learning.
Jake Tully: Definitely not.
Richard Young: Because it’s an ongoing thing in this industry.
Jake Tully: Exactly.
Richard Young: If I was to invite you to a high school graduating class of 500 students.
Jake Tully: Okay.
Richard Young: What would you talk to them about? What would be the topic and why would you focus on that topic?
Jake Tully: What I would tell them is that they need to not only follow their dreams, but they need to think in the future. They need to choose a path they’re going to love doing for the rest of their life. You’ve got to choose wisely because if you don’t like what you’re doing every day, how can you really have a happy life. What these students need to do is chase their passion and follow what they believe they will love doing. If that’s going to a college and getting a business degree and working on computers the rest of their life, then do it. If it’s getting dirty and being a technician, go for it. There are endless opportunities for students coming out of high school. They just really need to follow their dreams and do what they think they would love to do the rest of their life.
Richard Young: Great words, and its kind of what you did yourself.
Jake Tully: Yes, exactly.
Richard Young: You were on one path, and through life experience, you determined that the path wasn’t for you.
Jake Tully: Exactly. There’s always this norm, which is kind of what I followed as well. I kind of fell victim to it as well. There’s this norm that you need to go to college and get a degree to have a good healthy career. And really what I’ve learned is that’s just not true. There are so many opportunities in the technical world, whether it is automotive or heating and cooling or electricity. At these places not only are you going to get a job, but you’re also going to have a job for life because when you learn these skills, everybody will want to hire you. You’re the master of what you do and you’re never going to be out of a job.
Richard Young: You mentioned that, and we’re talking about high school. That’s one of the discussions I just got done having with another gentleman. Maybe high school counselors, and you tell me if you believe this, but the counselors tend to direct students away from the automotive industry.
Jake Tully: Yes, I could see that. I never experienced that personally, but yes, I could see that. Like I was saying just a minute ago, those counselors and peers kind of throw it at you that you need to go to college and you need to get a degree to have a good career. That’s just not true. There is so much advancement coming in this automotive industry that we’re going to need more and more technicians every day. They say the baby boomers that went into the automotive industry are now getting to the point where they’re retiring out. So there’s a massive need for technicians across the country, and we really need to bring more into the industry.
Richard Young: It’s exciting to be able to talk to you about this and get your perspective. But what could the industry, when I say industry I’m talking about the OE manufacturers, do to attract more quality people like yourself?
Jake Tully: They just need to advertise it more and put it out there that this can be a really good career. I think that’s the biggest deal, is people just don’t realize that. They don’t realize you can make a very good living in this industry, whether it’s becoming a technician, an advisor, or working up to a management level and anything beyond that. If these companies were able to advertise more of how well you can do with one of these careers, then I think that could bring in a lot more people.
Richard Young: One of the programs that the Technician Academy has is we go into community colleges here within the Midwest and put on training courses. Do you feel that that is a positive thing for those students?
Jake Tully: Oh, definitely.
Richard Young: Bringing that outside resources to them?
Jake Tully: Yes, exactly. Not only bringing that training, but it could also get them more interested in it and encourage them to want to stay in this career field. I listened to one of your other episodes, and you were talking with one gentleman about how some of his students just go there just because they want to learn to work on cars. They don’t want to make it a career. But with these extra training programs that you offer, this could really get somebody excited and want to actually have a career in this industry.
Richard Young: It’s interesting how our discussion is evolving. You’ll say something, and it makes me think of another question. Being a technician myself, I’m always curious. If the parts manufacturing industry, and when I say industry I’m counting the repair side, went into the high schools during career day and talked about the automotive industry, do you think that would’ve helped to guide you a little quicker to go to UTI?
Jake Tully: I think it would have. What it was that got me to choose to take this on, as a career was just getting hands-on with it. But I believe that if these companies were to come in and speak more about it that would definitely have caught my attention. And if they were to speak about advancement and how a solid career can be obtained from working for their company, yes that would’ve certainly helped to point me in the right direction a lot sooner.
Richard Young: Showing you a career path?
Jake Tully: Exactly.
Richard Young: You’re going in as a Tech Three at BMW, and you have a goal to work to Tech One, then advisor, manager and then to the corporate level in maybe fixed operations or something similar. Understanding that career path, I think, is key to getting a young person like you interested in the automotive industry.
Jake Tully: Exactly. If I would’ve had the opportunity to hear more about it maybe going into my sophomore year of high school, then I probably may have chosen to take those auto tech classes rather than going to the engineering classes. I’ve learned more about cars than I have working on those computers and doing CAD designs.
Richard Young: Yeah. And not all of us are built to be technicians. Getting that information would’ve maybe changed your path a little bit but not your career path. You’re set with your career path now, and I congratulate you for that.
Jake Tully: Thank you very much.
Richard Young: So are there any hobbies for Jake Tully whenever he’s not working on cars?
Jake Tully: Whenever I’m not working on cars? I still consider that a hobby. But I’d say I like relaxing and playing some Xbox every once in a while. A big thing for me is hanging out with family and friends. So pretty much being social and getting out even if it’s just going out to dinner with the family or whatever. My dad and I like to go out on the boat and go fishing. This past couple of years I’ve gotten into hunting a little bit. I’ve got a few other hobbies than just wrenching.
Richard Young: When it comes to the automotive industry and new things happening, where do you pick up your information? Is it through social networks, Facebook or are there specific sites that you look at?
Jake Tully: I love cruising the web and learning more and more every day. A lot of what I learn is through Facebook and social media. I follow a lot of car pages and not just that but the manufacturer’s pages and see the new things that are coming out. And of course, going into BMW, I have access to seeing their new technology. I love going into their books and reading everything that’s coming out and advancing my knowledge of what’s going into these cars. It’s only going to help me in the future.
Richard Young: Absolutely. If I said that I would give you any vehicle you want. It can be new, old, antique, or not even manufactured anymore. I would give you any vehicle to put in your garage, what would it be?
Jake Tully: Now this is a question that is really hard for me to answer because I have a passion for all kinds of cars. But I’d say I’d like to have a Corvette ZR1 in my garage.
Richard Young: Okay. What would be the second car?
Jake Tully: I think I’d probably have to stick with BMW on that one and maybe get an M3 as a daily driving car.
Richard Young: Well that’s not your average daily driver, but I’ve known some gentlemen that have had those. I’ve driven one and they are fun.
Jake Tully: Yes, exactly. I’m not the average daily driver anyway. I’ve always had sportier cars that you wouldn’t really think you’d see on the road every single day. So that’s what I like working with.
Richard Young: Is the Kentucky and Ohio state police going to have to be looking out for Jake Tully going to work?
Jake Tully: Hopefully not. I try to stick going to the speed limit. I mean going to work; the foot gets a little heavy sometimes.
Richard Young: You know Jake; I’ve enjoyed our conversation. I’d like to put the option out there that maybe in the future, after you’ve been at the BMW store for a year or two, to reconnect and get your ideas on what the industry’s doing and what’s going on with you?
Jake Tully: Oh, for sure. That’d be great.
Richard Young: So, I appreciate your time. You’re getting ready to go to the store next week, right? Is that the first day?
Jake Tully: I start on Monday. I’m going to bring in all my tools on Saturday. I just got the okay to bring in my tools and I’m starting work on Monday.
Richard Young: That’s exciting.
Jake Tully: Yes, I’m very exciting.
Richard Young: In the brief discussions we’ve had and looking at the information about you, you’re a very driven young man. I commend you on that. I think you have excelled with what you’ve done, and in what you’ve chosen to do and I wish you the best going forward.
Jake Tully: Thank you very much, Richard.
Richard Young: Do you have any closing thoughts for our listeners out there or opinions that you want them to take away?
Jake Tully: Just stick to it, learn more every day. There’s always going to be more to learn and don’t close your mind and think that you know everything. Keep that open mind and learn more to advance as this technology advances.
Richard Young: Good words Jake. Good words. Well again, I appreciate the time you’ve given us. I look forward to future discussions and getting your opinions on what’s going on in the industry.
Jake Tully: Certainly. Thank you for having me, Richard.
Episode #25 with Shawn Collins and Richard Young – A Year in Review
In Episode #25 of Technician.Academy’s podcast series, podcast host Richard Young and CEO of Technician.Academy Shawn Collins discuss their favorite topics of 2017 and other points of interest from the first twenty-four podcasts. Richard and Shawn express their excitement for 2018 and for those who are already scheduled to guest in future podcasts. Some of these upcoming guests include Matt Buchholz, President and General Manager at MotoRad of America; Jake Tully, winner of the 2017 ASE Technician of the Future Award; Hot Rodders of Tomorrow coaches; and several independent repair shop owners. Richard and Shawn also discuss where Technician.Academy went in 2017, the enhancements made to the T.A website, added resources for students, and more. Tune in today.
Episode #24 with Kyle Byrne – Understanding Shortages in the Automotive Industry
In the 24th episode of Technician.Academy’s podcast series, 2017 Auto Care Association Impact Award recipient, Kyle Byrne, discusses the honor of receiving such an award, why he got into the automotive industry in the first place, the shortages of automotive technicians today, what he thinks might stop a student from entering into the automotive industry, and more. Byrne is the VP of Distribution at Merrill Company/Arnold Motor Supply and has been passionate about the auto care industry throughout his career. Byrne brings his passions and dedication to the table in this enlightening podcast. Tune in now to hear more.
Episode #23 with Jill Trotta – The Importance of Women and Properly Trained Technicians
In the 23rd episode of Technician.Academy’s podcast series, podcast guest Jill Trotta discusses her Women in Auto Care’s Woman of Excellence for 2017 award, the importance of properly training technicians in the bay and of female owners/technicians in the automotive repair industry, and more. Jill Trotta is the Director of the Automotive Group at RepairPal and has been a professional in the automotive industry for over 24 years. Trotta brings her experience as an ASE Certified technician and consultant and as a shop manager to the table in this highly informative podcast. Tune in today.