How I Made It: Automotive

How I Made It: Automotive


Hello Everybody welcome I’m so happy you’re here.
My name is Kristen Fracella, I work here
in the Career Center and I put on events
in the job fairs and help people with
their resumes. I’d like to introduce
Lydia Deems, she’s a career counselor who
works especially with the career
technical programs but, she helped
students of all kinds find all kinds of jobs.
Today we’re having a panel as
you know, about automotive careers.
I would like to introduce Bob Stockero
from the automotive program.
Thank you for being here Bob.
Is there anyone else that you would,
I guess Dave left so he’s not around.
But Dave was here.
(Dave’s not here)
Dave Brainerd is, was here he’s also an
instructor there.
I’m going to introduce our three panelists and I’m
going to let them basically tell their story.
This series is called How I Made
It. Which don’t be intimidated guys, but
These are people who tell their story of
how they got into the job that they’re in,
what their path was, maybe what they
did before.
What they’re doing now. Then really I
want to give you a chance for you all to
ask questions of them and ask them
what their job is like
or anything you want to know about the field. So in no
particular order, Phil got here first so
I’m going to let him go first.
I should have probably done this
before the film was rolling but, still on
Andrew, do you pronounce it, Unanders? Unanders, excuse me.
He’s the owner of Larry’s Auto Parts,
without further ado I’m just gonna let
you tell your story.
I’ll warn you against you should never give somebody 10 minutes to speak about themselves
because I’m just gonna start rambling on and on and on.
(I have a hook.) You did
make that very clear in the very beginning.
When I was, and I’m 60 now that’s not a real
mystery but when I was seventeen, sixteen,
seventeen, eighteen years old I started
working at the services. I had to write this
down because we get to be 60 you start
losing your place, and get sidetracked, and you
forget what you’re talking about. I
started working at the service station,
on Milpas Street of all places. It was the
lower east side and I had an interest in cars
and I started somewhere in the
process taking an auto shop class
from SB high school and I liked it. I
graduated from high school, I shifted
jobs a couple times in the certification
and out of high school I thought, well…
I need something more as a full-time job.
I never really intended to go into
the parts business at all, but, you’re
looking for a job, like right now, you’re
looking for a job and you may
advertently have any kind of job falls into your lap
I got a job as a driver
called old car parts on Millpas street they were looking for
drivers so I started working there
during daytime in my service station job
at night, and I never really intended to
stay, I said this is going to be a
transition job until I find out what I
really want to do for my career and
My life and I want to go to be president of
General Motors or some some big career,
automotive instructor or
you know like Bob something that, you know
Never really thought I’d end up
their many years later. I working there
I’m a driver and I like it’s kind of
fun. We’re we’re kind of the hub of
the wheel where we’re taking parts in
from suppliers were dispensing parts out
to the shops that are working on and
then I got married and I enrolled in city college
and I was enrolled in mechanical
engineering classes and I really liked that
But it was really boring and I
decided I really need to work full-time.
And not go to City College and so I went
back to the parts house and I said
I want a full time job. They gave me a
full time job and I quit working at the service station.
I’ve always, I grew up, my dad raised me being
a hard worker. So you work hard and
this is a general lesson anything you do
you apply yourself when you work hard. Do
the best you can at the job you do and
things generally happened to
you and for you for the better
so the next thing I knew I’m a driver. The next thing you know I’m working on the counter.
Next thing I knew there was an opening
in the machine shop that we had
I’ve been doing a little machine work and I
became the machine shop person and then
the shop manager, and every time an
opportunity opened up, I was the person
in the right place at the right time.
So I kind of got the ladder and in about 1971,
Way back then in
the American parts stores were
American parts stores and foreign cars Stores didn’t mix. They were not mixed foreign cars we’re not the same thing.
we decided, the people who owned the store I worked for decided to the open a foreign import store.
and I was the, okay you’re
doing good you’re working hard let’s give you the advancement
Put you in here, so I became the manager
of a one-man parts store so I was the only
employee, but I was the manager. It was a pretty fancy title to have.
and I kind of took it from there and I
took that job and morph that into,
eventually, buying my way into it when
there was an opportunity to, save my
money, saving my pennies bought my way into
it. I never had a grandfather who died
and left me a lot of money and I think
everybody’s in the same position that it
I was in. Everything was a dollar an hour and
a dollar a time
became a partner in the store
work harder and the partner that I
was involved with then, we expanded, we
bought another story, we bought another store
and it seemed like it worked out. It was
it was a tough road and there was.
Its not all just a great slide that
you’re going this way. Their were lean years
lots of problems. There are lots of problems
in partnerships and finally got
completely out of that. I became the
sole owner. Right we have a parts store that we
bought in Goleta that was owned by a guy
named Larry. We bought that out and
eventually, I bought my partner out. I left him on the
street. In 1983, I ended up in Goleta, with
my wife and I, as sole owner of that place.
I’m just going to ask your a
question: Does anybody have, your parents, in
business of any kind? Raise your hand. Nobody? Okay that’s good.
Anybody here have the vision of being in
business for yourself? As what a great,
great thing to do because you’re the boss.
You can make your own hours even work
those half days. You can take as much time
off as you want. Really? Really. That’s not when
when I was the boss, you work twice as hard as those guys. Shut-up, I’m getting there.
I’m going to give you an example of what my,
I’m not complaining and I’m not
looking back and if I had it to do all
over again I would. Other than going to work with
the city in some job where I
actually retired with a pension. I
wouldn’t do it all I wouldn’t do it any differently
I’m really happy with what I
what I do, but my schedule, I work
about 60 hours a week and work six days
a week. I have worked five days a week
but, with the economy being what it is
now I’m back working six days a week
so anyway I can splice that 60 hours out. It’s the time I put in. I was in Goleta
this morning 5:30. I’m there every Wednesday, at 5:30 in the morning, I’m there
Saturday morning at 5:30 in the
morning and that’s just what it takes to
get in my business really and do the
kind of stuff. When I get done here
tonight I’m involved in an Automotive
Organization that Steve, Bob, and I
have a meeting to
go to tonight. So it’s another thing to do, so my, our
days are filled.
There’s lots of stuff to do and it’s not
just business but it’s extracurricular
stuff that we get involved in. But we
like doing it. We do it because we like
it and we do that to you know give
something back.
I’m working 60 hours a week now. I started
off in ’83 to about ’85 or ’86 working 90 hours a week
For a long time I work
seven days a week I’ve been there around
the clock and working my business 24
hours straight.
I’ve been there midnight I’ve been back
here at five or six o’clock in the
morning and so. All of these kind of
things if you want to raise your hands and
say yeah I want to be the boss.
It’s not an automatic shoein’
you’re going to be half days.
Like it could be the first 12 hours or the
second 12 hours, that’s what they caall days, so.
Got to get it done. Got to get it done.
When you’re the person who owns a business
it has to be done. And, you’re
the one whose responsible for making it done.
Your paycheck comes last after everybody
else. All your employees get paid, if
there’s money left over
terrific! If there’s not you’re the one
with empty pockets and you keep plowing on
Myself, I like the parts
business and I think it’s fascinating
because I kind of the equate this for
businesses and any business but like there’s a wheel.
Here’s the manufacturer, Here is AC Del Co
they make parts, they sell spark plugs, they
sell the plugs to somebody or to us. We
then turn around and we dispense those
to the shop, to the end-user, you come
into my store you buy over the counter
for your car. You’re working in a shop
you’re the mechanic we sell to the shop. So
everything kind of flows through us and
we end up being the hub of the wheel
We take the information. We take the year, the make, the model and we turn that
into, hopefully, the correct part we send
it out. Don’t be laughing at me now,
You’re laughing with me, right?
(Only with you, I may need a job.)
It is an incredibly
complicated business. It is far more
complicated now than it was 30 years ago.
I once in awhile I wander over San
Marcos High School and I talk to their RP class.
I’ll make a list of all the
different makes and models that were
there in 1970. And I’ll make a list of
all makes and models there now it’s like
it was 175 then and its like 1,000 now and it’s, you know,
How many models of Toyota are there plus all the models of Toyota that there were all through the years
and we have to be responsible for all
those things,taking that information,
putting out the right part, is that my bell?
(Could be. You have two minutes)
We have to get that right part and it
gets complicated and it’s not an exact science
There’s a ton of stuff that
goes wrong and I like to think that what
makes us better than some of the other
people and makes us we were the problem solvers
so when you buy that fuel pump
for that
2003 Chevy truck and its not right What do you do?
We gotta figure out why its not right
We gotta figure out if its the
wrong model, the wrong year
The wrong vin code, the wrong production date. The wrong size bed, the wrong size wheel base.
we got to figure out what it is. Maybe
it’s made in Canada, Maybe it’s made in
three places in the USA and they’re all
different fuel pumps. And that’s the kind of
of stuff we take all the information, assimilate together and hopefully pick the right part out.
But that’s, I have a guy who works for me
that works for me and his son was
supposed to be here tonight but apparently he didn’t make it.
He’s my manager and he followed the same
path that I did. He started working at a
parts story. He was kind of a driver he was
counter guy and I have often kidded with him,
Robert Clark is his name. I said
this story could be yours someday I will
sell you this store. I will make you
able to buy the store and he goes…
He sees what I do. He sees
what I go through. He sees the anguish.
I actually had hair when I was younger
and that’s what a lot of this stuff, it burns it off
He sees what I go through
and he doesn’t want to be, he’s happy
being, doing an exemplary job, He is a
manager, he is everything that I ever was.
He’s as good as I ever was at this
job but he does not want to to rise
above the level manager. He is happy with that.
That so there’s a lot of career paths in
the parts industry whether you want to
be a business owner or whether you want
to be and I gotta go work that’s been
with me 12 years now as a driver and he
loves being a driver. He comes in the morning he does my crate. Makes my
SB run back and forth all day long.
I let him bring his boys to work,
he’s a single parent.
He takes them to school, picks them up
after school and I work around his schedule
We try and we work as a family
we do that together.
He is happy in that job. He does not want
to move up to the counter position and
he’s not making as much money as a
counter guy but he’s happy with it
he lives within its means and life is good
for so there’s a lot of career
opportunities in the parts industry. In
that way the parts store there’s warehouses
In other cities you can be, you know,
supply and demand kind of thing. Or
supply anywhere as a kind of things so
there’s a lot to it. But that’s it.
Thanks Phil, that was great. I’m going to
introduce Steve now, Steve Bowman
owner of Bowman Auto Repairs.
(Welcome Steve) Okay I’m Steve Bowmen again from Bowman’s Auto Repair.
I started my business in 1988, been there ever since.
I’ll start, I’ll backup, I had a pretty
good opportunity in La Colima Junior
High, that’s where I learned how to gas weld,
cast ash treys in aluminum and they had
wood shop and metal shop there, right, I love
that kind of stuff was always like
hands-on kind of kid back in my neighborhood
friends that, you know, had mini
bikes and go carts with briggs &
stratton engines on it would be the guy
that’s kind of tunnin’ them
gettin’ them going and that was when I got into
motorcycles and then with my knowledge
of learning how to weld in junior high I
was welding tune pipes up for my Yamaha
motorcycle to kind of fine tune
the exhaust so you have different power bands
and I enjoyed doing that. I used
to lift if you lose chip stamps
from gas stations use for my pipe. But
that was that was my, my thing I was
really into that, then went to San
Marcos and went to our shop class there.
Bob Delaney was a teacher there and he
was a real stickler for details in
engineering aspects and I learned an
awful lot from thrt man. As being
a young high school student you just
you’re kinda annoyed by the guy, but,
looking back he was the best teacher ever.
Really covered it,
the stuff and you learned a lot, a lot of
basic engineering stuff that you use today
and I also took electronics class with
Mr. Herzog at San Marcus
Building circuit boards and all kinds of crazy
stuff and that knowledge using the own
flawed everything it’s more so today
with computers I use that information
every day I learned in high school so
knowledge is just stays with you forever.
So I was in a very fortunate state at that
program, came City College and got in
the auto program with the Mr. Thi Sell,
he was here at the time, and went through
the whole program ,got an Associates
degrees here in city college and
graduated and got job at a
dealership. Worked at the dealership, at the dealership we did
Christler, Plimoth, Jeep Eagle, Saab…
Learned all that stuff
Then in 1988 I opened up my own shop
I had about 12 years under
my belt. I was pretty confident with what I was doing.
Start a shop and dammit had to go
back to school because now I need to
learn how to do spreadsheet. Got to do taxes, you have to think about payroll.
So here I am 30-something going
back to City College, taking some courses.
So that’s very important, if you ever
think I saw one has wanting to do their
own business, business classes. Learn how to do QuickBooks, you have to do payroll.
You know it’s all kinds of taxes and things
you gotta deal with with employees. You have to do
Work Comp, and deal with environmental stuff you
gotta deal with your waste oil filters.
The list goes on, the fire department wants a piece of
it because you got hazardous materials on your property
you gotta have to have a business plan for
that. So the list goes on, it
It doesn’t stop at just turning wrenches and fixing cars and collected money.
There’s a lot of responsibility so
that’s a good tip I can give is you know
you have to get your education. Stick
with it and, I was tellin’ Phil earlier
Back in his day you have to look for
parts book this thick, now, you click the
mouse to find the parts.His eyes are
a lot better for that.
I went to a training. I still, I to went to a Volvo
training class for a weekend we had at
least 14 hours of training on a new
Volvo stuff. With all the new downloads
and computer stuff they have in the car,
every year we’re going to different
training classes. Technology is
changing faster than I can learn it so
it’s just incredible.
You’ll always be going back to school
and training so you just don’t get that
out of your mind. Maybe sit in a
classroom, listen to some instructor just
boring you to tears with. It’s really
good and I just happen to have a good
good time with this structure. We have two
master Volvo with tax training to class.
A retired Volvo instructor from
Volvo North America there to train us and all were
top-notch guys. Learning all about that
the old-time stuff that they’re dealing now.
With the 12’s that are coming out
some of the technology and just all
something I didn’t know. But, Volvo
has one in there key system that I didn’t know.
High-end cars, where you can unlock your
car for red button like the splashing on
your remote then there’s a heartbeat in the car.
There’s a sensor in the car that senses
heartbeat. It don’t sense a cat heart or dog
heart only this human heartbeat. So that’s the
technology we’re putting these cars and and we
have to figure out how that’s going to
work and if it doesn’t work and so it’s just
just amazing technology. You know
bluetooth technology and you know how
you can dock your iPad’s in your car now. You tell the car turn the
temperature up. You sit on to you turn
the temperature 70 degrees, turn the
radio station. All the technologies in
the car you’re gonna have to fix that.
Yeah so it’s and you’ve got to know
computers and electronics like I said
earlier. I learned electronics in high school, still
use that today’s. Strongest class you
could probably take it’s always just
talk about millivolts, milliseconds, and
you gotta learn how to use it. Use a lab
scope very proficiently. All this stuff us just out there.
Any questions?
Did I scare you too much?
Thank you so much David. Lets move on and then we’ll
have questions I’m sure there’s lots of
questions. I already have some. This is
Sean Duggar, got that one right.
Sean Dugger who works for Heirs Auto
Repair and what you tell us a little bit about yourself.
Thanks for having me.
Sean Duggar, I am a ACE master certified
automotive technician with my L1
advanced certificate. I’ve been in this
industry for about 16 years now. I had a little bit different
introduction to it, at 16 got I my license
first thing I do as well break my dad’s truck
I had to pay for it.
So after paying for it I had the mechanic explain to me what he did. I went
home and crawl underneath the truck and
look at what he did and said
can’t be too difficult. You know I’m
pretty mechanically inclined
I know I’m gonna go out and break his truck
again. I don’t want to pay for it so
I enrolled in the automotive program at
San Marcos High School
The automotive program was actually kind of a savior for me because you know in
high school I struggled. I was bored I was
not challenged and so my grades suffered.
When I got into the ROP program it,
well motivated me to get the
rest of my classes because part of being
part of the ROP program and you have to
keep your grades up. You had to have
good attendance so it
really did, it help. It helped me get
through high school. From there,
instructor Bill Brand, I talked
to him about asking if he knew anyone that was hiring,
looking to hire someone to start working
in the shop and he introduced me to a
Robert Nicke Aires.
I was almost 18 at that point. It’s my
senior year in high school so I started
working for Aires and I started as just
the cleanup guy. I would clean the shop,
wash cars, help the guys, whenever I could
and after high school, I started taking
classes up here at City College
Automotive classes with Bob. You know I
got, I got bored because it was
just, it was just working cleaning the shop, washing cars.
I really want to get out there and start
working on the cars. The opportunity
just wasn’t there at the time so I did,
get a little bored and I took a break.
I went to the military but the
automotive background gave me some
pretty interesting opportunities in the
military. Even you know my job had nothing
to do with cars or fixing cars. I was
a put in charge of what we call it our
motor pool NCO. Basically, I was in
charge of my platoon’s humvees
so I oversaw the maintenance repair work for our vehicles. What was the fun thing
about that was if one of them went down
the field,
I got to go out help them get it out,
recovered it out of the field. I oversaw the
repair and then I got to go take it back
out to where broke down and test it
to see if it it was going to fail again.
From there, from there I went in and actually
took over our company’s motor pool. Which at the
time that was about
6 pay grades above what I was being paid at the time, so, but it was interesting.
It wasn’t just Humvees, it was all vehicles that were assigned to our company
I didn’t really repair any of them
you but I said it was in charge of all
their maintenance and repair make sure
everything was taken care of on it. But, I
got out of the military and needed a job.
So. I came back to Robert Nicker and said I needed a job.
I said, you know, I need a job and they had an opening
as a service adviser.
Which wasn’t really my thing but you
know I got in and wrote service forms
for about a year. Then, I turned around and started
continuing education with the Bob
here at City College. They had a
position open up in the shop and I
jumped on it. Didn’t even have to ask me twice I moved out to the shop.
You know, I started off just doing oil changes. Just slowly working my way
up to where I’m at today. Today,
I’m going to have two locations their
main location that they’ve been for
30-plus years on the corner of Chapala and Victoria.
Then they three years ago, they opened up on Anacapa just down on the
street here. You know, the economy
being the way it was
we really didn’t have it
as busy as we’d like it to be. At that
shop so there’s only one technician and
that’s me.
So I’ve got a huge shop that I get to
run all by myself and one of my bosses
is there but Nikki she stays in the office.
and I’m in charge of the entire shop
Which is kind of nice it’s a huge shop
and I can put three cars in the
shop and have all three of them torn apart.
And it’s part of this job, which is really
being able to multitask. You can be
working on this this car here while
in your head you’re diagnosing
this car. And on this end with this car,
your plan on how you’re going to
complete it. You got deadlines,
time, you know, people need their cars.
You tell people they’re not going to have their car
for two days they panic, even in Santa Barbara where you could take the bus or
bike anywhere. People panic when you
tell them that they’re going to be
without a car for a while. So you got to
be able to you know how to reassure
customers and it’s okay and we’ll get
your car fixed in time. So,
it’s a high-stress industry, but, you know
it’s a lot of fun
But, education is key.
It’s big. You know education is continuing
it’s continuous.
We’ve got CTI classes which is put on by
Car Quest,we do those with him
every other month. So that’s
two nights a week after work. That
usually goes from six to nine thirty ten
o’clock at night. Then you gotta
drive home. I live in lompoc so I’ve
got to commute both ways. Then on
top of that we’ve had a hybrid class
that we did at the shop.
We’ve also did a Volkswagen Audi. So we have,
it’s just constant continual training. So
it’s something you have. It’s a
commitment you can’t just go in to put
your eight hours in and go home.
You know, you show up I get to work
at 7, I don’t put in quite the hours that he does.
But I also have more hair
than he does. (Everyone does)
Yeah but you know, I start at seven
o’clock if there’s something to do at seven o’clock
I’m doing it .You know
lunchtime is at noon but if the car’s
not done and the customer is waiting for it, it’s
gotta be finished so you know you miss
your lunch. And you know, 5 o’clock is the end of the
day but if that car’s not done you know
you’re staying 6, 7, or sometimes until
o’clock at night. It’s
whatever it takes. It’s a huge investment
but you know, it’s
what you need to do to keep the business
running. So yeah that’s about it.
Thank you.
Well now, I’m going to just open it up for
some questions. I think it’s really
interesting for some reason that the
economy has impacted your business
because I mean it seems like in Southern
California everybody needs their car and
everybody needs it fixed. but. I guess,
people just kind of make do with the
spit and paste a little more than we
used to.
Does anybody have a question right off? Or
should I ask a couple or anybody have a
burning question for one of these guys?
I just have a comment, when you said you’re
willing to stay there until seven or
eight o’clock, as an employee that’s unbelievable.
Most people today five o’clock and they’re gone.
Well, you know my bosses.
It’s just to let everybody else know
that’s the kind of attitude that you
gotta have if you really want to keep the
job. You just have to do what it takes to get
the job done and be happy doing it. But
you do have to find a happy medium with
you because especially with the
economy the way it is
getting tougher and tougher out there. So
you’ve gotta be willing to make that commitment.
But some of us some of us
don’t mind.
Yeah, yeah, that’s good. Like some of the
things, I grew up turning wrenches at age
nine years old. I just really regret not
taking advantage of high
school. My life took a different path
now just recently, I got back to city college.
I’ve always had a passion for engines
my uncle used to build engines,
the cars from the ground up. Start
with a frame and then see what he used
to put together. See the aftermarket ice
is to blow my mind.
You know, so I’ve always had it. It was
always a part of me and I like watching
staying out there until 12 in the morning and
watching him tear down the car and he
wouldn’t stop until he was done. He
wouldn’t stop until that car fired and then
you he would go to bed. You know and and part of
me has a little bit of that in me to. You know you
gotta get the job done. Especially
when you’re talking about customers.
Thank you, you touched on a good point. All three of
these gentleman mentioned that, they, this
was just something they love. You feel
you just love cars. You had an
aptitude for welding and making things
work.
That’s heavy motivation right there you wanted to drive
recklessly, basically. Yeah I can relate
to that, one, I trashed my mom’s
boyfriend’s truck. Like when I was 16
16 years old so I uh-huh.
I just bent it back into shape… and I
have one question for for each of you.
It’s just what do you think is
your, is the major skill, or strength that
you possess that really serves you in
your job, or in your business. What do you
think, that you know, we get that question
a lot in interview. You know, like what
do you think is your one best quality? Or
you know what’s really serving you in
your career or your business?
Yeah, you know I could start. I always was very mechanically inclined
but more than that there’s a
desire to learn. You know it’s like,
today’s cars,you know it’s not just
being good with your hands and you got
to be a mechanical engineering,
electrical engineer, you got to
be able to look at something built figure out
how come it comes apart and you put it back together
I mean growing up I was
always taking stuff apart you know I got
in trouble because I never put it back
together they didn’t care and all I got it apart,
I knew how it worked but I didn’t need to
put it back together but I got grounded
because I took the weed whacker apart. My
step dad wanted to use it and it wasn’t working.
You know, but it is the desire to
learn and you got
to be open to all different types of learning.
I mean it’s not just one thing I
mean every instructor you’ll have
is going to teach it differently.
You’ve gotta be
open to the technique and
absorb the information.
Yeah you think that’s really important
especially with how much engines,
mean automobiles and the industry has
changed.
I mean you really have to adapt, like you
were saying, you did a clinic over the
weekend, you know to learn how to do not
do some of those new stuff.
I have to say my strength would be in a diagnostic
skills and understanding of how the product
works and just having all those tools in
my pocket to do the car correctly and
fast and efficient. Its
a learning experience every day
there’s nothing that you take for granted. You think one time
to fix it this way and next time it’s
something totally different.
Yeah it’s not fun but you try to hone
your skills and it just takes your
persistence and understanding how it
really works and sometimes the the basic thing
for example, a list or corroded wire and
assistant will drive everything crazy
and you spend hours chasing your tail. All it
was that one connector so you know you
never short change your your basic stuff.
You got know how the system works with
what everybody needs. Eventually, that’s your strength right
there is just understanding knowledge of
the system.
In a training class has shown that we
put on. Larry’s Party’s puts on and the instructor,
that teaches our training class made
this comment at the very beginning of
these classes which was 10 years ago, now.
He said “There’s no doubt in my
that every technician in this room can
fix every problem on every car,” he said,
but you need to do it fast. If you have
enough time, enough money, and enough
parts to throw at it every technician
this room can fix every problem, every
car in the world not a problem.
He tries to teach these guys is their
diagnostic skills so that they can actually do it.
So my business and I think all
three of ours are level of technical
expertise is not nearly as high as what
these guys have to do. But everybody in
all three to industries we have to be smart. I have guys working for me that are
different levels of intelligence. The
ones that are smarter just do the job better
the ones that are not as intelligent,
their heart might be in it, they might like
it. You might not be as quick enough,
you’ll reach conclusions as these guys
are making snap decisions and
diagnostic skills and we have to follow
a path what happens this is this. What
happens when you look at path, any
diagnostic whether it’s computers or parts
we’re doing essentially the same thing.
We’re juggling, we’re taking these six
oranges and we’re doing this and this,
and somebody throws a cell phone in
there, you drop one and then somebody
throws a red apple in there. It’s
this one, and we’re going so constantly
were just multitasking and doing it all
day long. So you just got to be
have some level of intelligence to do it.
That’s the biggest, the best too all of us can use.
(And be a multitasker I heard use a couple of you say that)
It’s not a job for everybody
and I’ve seen people in my
industry that we’re great at something
else that didn’t require those skills,
but not good at what our issue was and I
wouldn’t be good at what they ended up at
Right, it’s a different set of skills
Well and also with the industry Sean you’re saying how your
first job when you came back from the
military was service writing.
Yes like writing up the tickets in taking
the people and what not.
Recently I had my oil change at, shall
remain nameless, starts with a J and ends with a lube
The guy who
is doing that intake was fabulous at it.
I mean he was a fabulous salesperson and
I was wondering if he was as good at
at the other stuff, you know and
sometimes that’s an important
piece of the puzzle in your
career quests like
what part of this industry that you may
be attracted to or love are you suited to?
It seems like you guys really kind
of found your way and I love the story
about the guy who’s the driver you know,
who really found his niche within your
business. It’s working for his life
and you know he’s doing a good job and
you’re lucky to have him and he’s lucky
to have you.
We’ve seen in this industry on all of
our different levels, people with
people skills make the better service providers.
We’ve had a a service writing class
that Car Quest has put on in the past and
the guy that teaches the class actually
goes out in his business will go out to
a shop and he will teach them out of
service write. this is what he does all
over the country. He will tell us
that he says I recruited some of the
best service writers I’ve ever had from
restaurants where I’m having dinner,
Waiters, Waitresses, if you’re a people person I can teach you to
service write, you’re not working
on cars but I can teach you how to
service right. Once you have people
skills pieces, but if you don’t have people skills
I can teach you that. So that’s
recognizing what your strengths are if
you’re quick thinker and your jugular
and stuff you could be a tech, or if you’re
parts if your people person or if you’re a
combination of both of those you know
you can multitask and do both. But, the
best service writers, you guys
would agree that, you know the people
would do the best at it. I’m not
talking about being a person that,
I’m gonna not gonna use the B word but
the BS word, you don’t have to be a tell
untruths. Just be honest with people but
you have to be able to deal with people
and be happy at your job and positive about it.
Absolutely, I think the biggest difference between a service writer and the technician is that
the service writer can’t take his job
home. But the technician is, I mean, you know.
Like I said, I live in Lompoc, so as I’m driving home especially when I got a car that I’m really struggling
with,
I’ll be sitting there talking
with my wife, who does nothin’ with the
automotive industry and after
10 years of marriage she started to come
back with “Well did you check this?”
haha good for her
Well I just have a comment and I’m just
pleased to hear how diverse and interesting the work is.
I mean, that it’s always something new,
that you keep learning, that you keep
active, you know. You’re challenged by it
and I think that’s one of the aspects of
the industry that sometimes you think ok
well fixing something that’s like you do
the same thing over and over. Or not you’re always like,
you know, changing oil or changing tires
or whatever but it sounds like there’s
there’s always challenges
There’s problems to be solved.
There’s ways, there’s new things to be
learned, it keeps your brain going
Keeps you happy, I mean you guys all be doing this basically your whole adult life
Pretty much, so that speaks well I think
for the profession and how engaging it is…
how stimulating it is.
It’s a growing profession, I mean there’s
a massive shortage of technicians you
know I mean it’s tough finding a good
quality technician, you know, and that goes just from shop to shop
someone that might work really well with
me may not work really well with the
next shop. But you know
it’s definitely it’s very difficult to get
to find technicians out there.
I had a customer, an older gentleman, who’s in the service
station business and repair for his
entire life. He made the comment to
me one day he said that he retired ten
ten years ago when it was not nearly as
complicated as it is now. The analogy
to use was doctors vs mechanics or
technicians and he says doctors have one
model, it hasn’t changed.
(I come from, two models)
and it hasn’t changed thousands of years -there’s technological
breakthroughs in health, of course. But he
says we have 500 models, and
Global has efferent software that you
have and everybody has their own
computers, and, cars now have several
multi computers talk to each other,
our world is just getting more,
exponentially more complicated, like that.
Not, not, that doctors have it easy by
any means but they have two models.
Yeah, and it was a neat analogy
when you put it that way, you know.
And they practice, practice, practice
practice, practice, and we are professionals.
Well the other thing Phil is…
We have to fix our mistakes they can bury
theirs. They do.
Would you say the Internet has made
diagnosing easier or more efficient?
More efficient? Absolutely, because of antenna fix,
because of websites that you can bounce
off problems, offer so many different
text. I use that every day.
There’s a ton of information out there
on those websites we pay a fee for
that information every month but
definitely use that, very helpful,
ya know? I’d say it a good portion of
my day is spent on the web because we don’t
specialize in any one car, we will work on
just about anything that comes to that door
So it’s impossible to know every
system on every vehicle so a lot of my
day is spent researching theory and
operation you know ?
It takes time but yeah, the internet has been an invaluable tool
it may hamper service riders because now you’ve
got customers that think they’re more
informed you know but definitely helps us.
(I have a question for you Steve, was it a Volvo with a key monitor with a heartbeat?)
It’s a part of the alarm
system and when you unlock the car if
the things flashing red they registered
a heartbeat in the car so you know
someone’s broken into the car.
(So somebody’s still in the car?)
Yes!
Yeah someone’s still in the car. That’s
pretty frightening but the technologies there.
It doesn’t register the dogs or cats.
yeah, if the dog is stealing it, it doesn’t register it.
That can also work if you forgot your baby in the car, like, oh there he is.
So is everyone here already enrolled
in the automotive program? Is anybody
thinking about enrolling and not
enrolled yet?
Ok, you have any questions? Just to put you on
the spot back there?
uh-huh yeah actually do, I have a question:
what’s the difference between like shop
vs like a dealership?
Like Honda, you know, how they have their own shop vs. a little shop. Is there like personal time
say like there’s an apprentice there like
studying? Is it better for them to work
at the shop vs one of those bigger dealerships?
Well I could give you my experience
because I worked at a dealership and and
it’s a good place to to learn and they
can hide your mistakes with the warranty claims. So the things you break they can
just warranty it doesn’t cost the owner
anything. Versus and independent you break something or
blown engine up, well the owner’s got to
buy that. You won’t last very long so it’s
good to cut your teeth at a dealership,
you know?
I never worked in a dealership but you know we’ve some
of our some of the better tecs that I
know today started there. Others have
started in an independent but you know
it’s I think it in an independent
shop you you may or may not have a
little bit more one-on-one training with
one specific person. Like
a lot of my training started with the owner of the business and from there
it would progress to working
with like Master Technicians that are
already you know in the business. But, I’m
sure a dealer level I would imagine it’s the same.
People that I’ve known in the dealerships, and I think you guys may agree with this, that if there is an exodus they
might start at the dealership and
eventually work out into the private sector.
Very few people start the private
sector and end up in the
dealership. That’s true. Dealership
seems to me to be incredibly good training.
But you’re working on your back, you’re in that one car, that car has
several models but that said you have one car. You might get a guy that works his
entire career or half his career with Chevrolet agency
and he does not know anything about Ford
He can’t fix that Ford. He doesn’t know the idiosyncrasies, He has not been trained on it
He has general knowledge
but the idiosyncrasies he knows are just
on Chevrolet. I know a gentleman that work to Toyota and he
could arm you a Toyota
4runner v6 in an incredible time, fast,
incredibly fast. Give him my Chevy, no tools, no
knowledge no and so. A lot of the guys
want more of a challenge and they
will use the dealership as stepping point.
They’ll cut their teeth on it and then
they’ll move out of the dealership
and into what we call the real world
because the real world, there is every
car out there. There’s it’s getting,
eventually get more and more cars, more
models for manufacturers or
complications. They want to learn more
They want to be more versatile and
do that and the dealership guys will
counter with, well I know more about
that Chevy, then you’re after market guys know
no because they know a little bit about
a lot of cars and I know a lot about
this one car. I don’t agree with that
because the level of training that we
all have now. What we all put on now, I will put the guys who go to our CARQUEST
classes against any dealership
mechanic. I’m not downplaying the
dealership guy they’re not stupid they’re smart. But, I would put some of our technicians
in the aftermarket up against anyone of them.
So I would, and that may not answer your
question but there is one that’s
necessarily, if there is one better than the
other. I think our guys are better than
or equal.
I have a comment on that. When I look at a dealership you talk good about your car
When we talk somewhere private shop
sometime you talk to the person speaks
in your car. So you get to know the person who
is fixing your car. So you get to talk to them.
A dealership you fix your car but you leave at the desk, you don’t know the person fixing your car.
You’re there but it’s hard to get a good look.
You don’t know the first hand knowledge
At a private shop you know what’s going on, in private shop you see them all the time
your regular customers coming in, they know
your name.
I had a quick car repair question that came up like, because now both of you work on all
kinds of cars.that’s right and obviously
Phil you supply everything
do places that specialize in
certain kinds of autos do they tend to
be more expensive? Or does it matter or like because
I was thinking those places that are
specializing in Volvos or Mercedes or something.
They just know how to do that so they
probably do it fast and do it
theoretically very well. I was just very curious because it must be kind of competitive, I was just curious, is it kind of competitive across-the-board?
I don’t think that’s true, labor times are pretty much the same.
You’ll find the dealership, you know,
labor rates always higher they charge
more at the dealership than an
independent would. So you probably get a
better price at an independent.
We just don’t have the big overhead that dealership does.
You might find that labor rates are
similar but if it’s a more exotic car
like Mercedes or BMW the parts might
cost more so that might be higher.
But, the labor will be typically around the same rate.
That shows you that this is not my area of expertise.
That’s a good question.
I have a good honest mechanic tho.
How do you work with your clients to retain them?
How do you keep your clients here in Santa Barbara? How do you keep them for 10-15 years?
I have clients that I’ve had for 20 years and now am doing their kids cars.
Pretty soon they’re gonna
have kids we’ll be doing their cars so
you gain that trust. Like you touched on Donna, I’m working on your car
you’re talking to me, I’m diagnosing how to fix your car, you know, I’m the guy you talked to.
I’m taking care of your car.
You’re not talking to service writer or
service advisor then go to the cashier
and you know we talked to the guy that
open the hood of your car so you really
just hoping they did it right or just hoping they did it at all.
So you know as, they trust me with the issue and that personal issue that I give as an independent.
(how you do you build that trust?)
(Like do you, have you thought about that?)
I just do it i’m just honest you know
I do it because I’m a honest, happy guy and I love what I do.
That’s good and they trust me I do
a good job, don’t have a comebacks
the car is fixed right the first time and
everything, everyone’s happy.
I had the experience with my mechanic or a couple of times I’ve taken it in an he said
I don’t think anything’s wrong with that I
think it’s ok it’s you know it’s in it okay,
and I’m always like wow he could have
you know he could have charged me for that.
That really built my trust
for instance and I was like if
he’s willing to, you know spend 15
minutes looking at it and deciding that
it doesn’t really need a new part. I am
going to come back to him, you know
I want to give him the money once it does need a new part.
That’s my best advertising word of mouth right there. You’re going to tell 10 other
people. Hey this guys is going to take care of you’re not gonna ripped off. That’s how it works.
I think that when you’re talking to the person who’s fixing the car it important to
communicate the problem better with the mechanic because he is going to have a much better idea of
what questions to ask so that the
repairs go smoother and faster and better
Then you take it in and you’re
dealing with the service writer like
Bill said, service writers are people
person, but they don’t really
necessarily know about the car.
Yes so they’re just trying to list into
the person and is jotting down what they are
saying and that’s it! But to save time
and money I think that the more
experience you have communicated with
the customer and in the knowledge base
you’ll get the jump on the past base.
I think that’s the advantage of the independent over dealership.
If you ever go to the dealership and they write down things, you’ll notice
they write customer
“claims,” and this is the problem.
That’s not building trust.
So how does somebody get,
once they have their education,
what would you give as advice to
somebody who wanted to find a job in the industry?
Or get themselves started, if you
wanted to find a job to start with?
I think the best place to start is start talking with the
instructors at City College I mean they
know the people in this industry
especially you know in a smaller area,
like Santa Barbara they they might have
an idea of who’s looking at who, you know?
Then and if you got to get out and
you start you know talking to some of
the shops. It doesn’t hurt to stop
and tell them who
you are,what you’ve done, and you’re
looking for a job. You know it’s
tough right now, the economy being
what it is, it’s tough, but you know it.
You’ll be able to be a little persistent
about it but you know it just you have to get out there.
I said but I really think you
know talking with my high school shop
teacher who was the one that turned me to
the place I’m working at now.
I think it’s probably one of your best
resources.
(How do you as employers and and managers, how do you tend to find employees when you’re when you’re looking for them?)
Talk to city
college instructor, that’s
how I got my tech now David is right
here. He just left , he works here works at my
shop in the morning goes to school in
the afternoon and will be graduating
pretty soon. Over full-time in the
shop is it’s been a great great worker,
hard worker and sharp. He’s been really
impressed and you’ll find most independent
shops in town will pretty
much only hire City College, you know
student or graduate. Scott just
because we want someone that has a basic
knowledge of the the car. Then
they’ll need some training you know for
the product we’re working on but you know that they gotta have a basic understanding
of what’s going on. So you’ve been unlocking the door to trust them.
So they won’t destroy a 40,000 dollar car real quick. So
if they don’t have to do it so it’s a
big big leap of faith, but, being in this
program is an excellent program to have up here
Most independence will use them.
(Can students come to some of the
IPA meetings and get to know shop owners?)
Yup, certainly. Once you get to know some shop owners…
that’ll opens a lot of doors. you know the flip side, shop
owners know that you have a strong interest in this industry because you know it is
tough to find a good tech.
A lot of it is you know, well,
part of it is desire, you’ve got to
really want to do this job it’s not just
something you’re gonna walk in, clock in,
and clock out and go home at five o’clock.
It takes a lot of effort and a lot
of time. So yeah I mean, to…
take part in like in the IPA, it’s going to
show the owners of these shops that
this person is really interested in this
industry.
As employers I think, I think we all feel the same, we like to see a prospective employee that wants to show
up at the shop and say I want to be your
sweeper. I want to start here. My best
counter guys have started as drivers. We
have hired people at the counter my best
counter people by and large. Really no exceptions to start off the drivers work
their way up so I think the best technicians
and I can name the bunch of
technicians in this town that started
off going to a shop and saying I need a job
Can I be your floor sweeper. I got a
guy in Montecito the guy that’s going to
end up owning the shop out there. Started
off, went through the city college program under
of course, Bob.
Went through the program got hired out
of high school as they’re cleaning boy.
Then worked at this shop through his
education at city college and then you just
he just, we just went right up because
it means that he’s a special person but
still that’s where we started.
Well it seems like those special people
understand that, all of you, I
think touched on this when you’re
introducing yourselves is that hard work is fundamental
I mean and and wanting to just work
because we just had a culinary one of these chats
and they were saying
the same thing they said to go
into a kitchen and say you want to wash
dishes. I mean it’s the same thing. It’s
like you want to be surrounded with your
stuff you want to be in the
environment that you want to work in. You show you demonstrate that you’re not
ready. You’re not willing to five o’clock
I’m going no, you want to be there you want to do that.
It’s exactly, what you’re talking
about it takes that person with that
drive to really shine amongst there’s a
lot of competition for the job even in
our shortage technicians are still a
competition for jobs out there.
everywhere. The one that’s going to stick
up above the crowd that the employers
are going to look at. That’s the one I
want is on You have to show that
incentive to go above and beyond.
It’s not complicated, that is in any occupation.


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