THA 118 Recruiting Students to Discover a Career in Automotive
Seth Thorson has specialized in the service of European automobiles since 1999. First, in Michigan and now at his current location in New Brighton, MN.
Seth was educated at a UTI in Chicago where he was at the top of his class. He then went to BMW Step to finish the master’s program. Thorson was hired in at a BMW dealership in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. From there he moved to an independent shop in Waterford Michigan and learned VW Audi. Seth’s passion remained with BMW and he was offered a chance to buy an existing shop in New Brighton, Minnesota near where he grew up.
He is the owner of Eurotech which specializes in BMW, Mercedes and Audi cars. He is a firm believer in using factory tools to ensure proper repairs and coding. His team of highly trained and certified technicians are able to diagnose today’s complex vehicle systems! His second location, Green Garage, works on all makes and models.
Seth also owns and runs a BMW tech support company called LMV Bavarian that provides support and programming to a growing network of over 200 shops via remote diagnostics. He also teaches national seminars on BMW diagnostics. Seth has also partnered with SSF auto parts in their unique ‘hands-on’ training program.
Seth belongs to AASP in MN, BIMRS as well as NASTEF. He is also a member of Cecil Bullards (Institute for Automotive Business Excellence) 20 group. He believes idea sharing and networking with other shop owners has helped grow his business. Listen to Seth’s previous episodes HERE.
Dave Macholz is the Academic Chair of the Automotive Technology program at Suffolk County Community College, the largest Community College in the State of New York.
Dave began his career as a Technician at the age of fifteen and worked as a tech while pursuing a degree at CUNY Queens College. After College Dave owned and operated his own shop and continued to work as a Technician until being hired as a full-time High School Automotive Teacher at Eastern Suffolk BOCES in Oakdale NY.
Dave served as the lead instructor for the AYES Automotive program at ES BOCES for several years before leaving to take a position as a full time Instructor at Suffolk County Community College in Selden, NY where he currently Chairs the Fiat Chrysler MOPAR CAP Local, General Motors ASEP, Honda PACT, Subaru U, Toyota T-TEN, and general automotive programs.
Dave is an instructor and program consultant for Worlpac where he teaches and manages a team of Asian market vehicle technical trainers. In addition to his instructional background, Dave writes technical articles for Motor Age Magazine, serves on several industry and publishing company advisory boards and is an advocate for continuing automotive education for working automotive professionals. Listen to Dave’s previous episodes HERE.
Aaron Dalton joined North Kansas City Schools in 2008 as an Engineering Technology Teacher teaching college engineering courses for 9 – 12 grades. Over the years, Aaron furthered his degree in Career and Technical Education (CTE) Leadership and became one of the lead teachers in the school district. In 2017, he was hired as Assistant Director for a Kansas City Area Career Center and in 2018 was promoted to Coordinator for School to Career Programming at North Kansas City Schools.
Aaron currently oversees all career pathway programs in 6th grade, middle school, high school, and off-site programs like Automotive Technology. In the evenings, he teaches drafting courses at the local community college.
Key Talking Points:
Don’t sell ourselves short. This is a fantastic career.
We’ve got our problems but more and more are turning around and fixing our issues
Be sure when you build a mentor and mentee program with an apprentice, you select the right person
Be sure your mentor doesn’t disenfranchise your new hire
This is a high tech job today and into the future.
Seth: Career path to trade program in high school to include income pathways
Middle school is an important part of creating interest and excitement into automotive careers
Get involved in career fairs.
Present or just talk to classes, parents and school and administration
Get former students working in the automotive to speak to students and parent
Hold shop tours. One of the best exposures to the automotive to parents and students.
Be sure counselors and principals come to visit your shop.
Post-secondary schools have OEM relationships with their specific programs
Independents must get involved and engage with the college by speaking to department heads and participation on advisory board.
The quality of post-secondary (college) programs helps generate recruitment via student word of mouth.
Many students who go to work for dealerships work in the maintenance area (oil changes) and get disenchanted.
Seth Thorson: Graduating students get shop tours at independents
He hired an apprentice from a most recent tour
Seth creates his own graduation program for a new apprentice as part of a career path
Includes ASE goals
This is a high tech industry
Not a dirty hands job anymore
When talking to parents and students, have students talk to them about their experiences.
A draw for recruitment
Resolve compensation issues
More profitable shop
Salary plus incentives
Tied to training and ASE
Do mock interviews for your school
Help with a NATEF review
You have to reach out to students because the ‘word’ may not reach them through the school unless we do it
Get high-school counselors to post-secondary automotive tech facility and observe
Set up some ADAS calibration if you have it and show them.
Independents must be prepared to discuss pathways and compensation plans with guidance counselors
We’ve got to figure out how to pay a living wage for technicians
Seth Thorson: Consider supplying a starter toolbox for new recruits from post-secondary
When you are presenting bring items to pass around and for students and parents to touch. Scopes, sensors, etc.
Many in education don’t reach out to independents, therefore, the independents must reach out to the high schools and colleges. Find the time the one hour it takes to help your business and the industry by reaching out to the schools.
We get too tied up in our silos. Get in your car and visit.
A special thanks to Seth Thorson, Dave Macholz and Aaron Dalton for their contribution to the aftermarket.
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