GROVE CITY, Pa. Cliff and Curt Hovis saw an opportunity to take a defunct sports facility in this western Pennsylvania town and turn it into a innovative, cutting-edge training facility where their customers can meet under one roof for the latest in automotive training.
The Hovis brothers, owners of Hovis Auto and Truck Supply, which has been family owned since 1952, turned what had been the sports facility’s dormitories into a 10,000-square-foot hands-on training center. Along with the training center, which opened in November 2011, Hovis opened a new distribution center on the property.
“We recognize the critical need to provide technicians with comprehensive instruction, technical materials and educational programs, and we understand they don’t want to travel across the country to get it,” said Curt Hovis. With stores 14 locations, Hovis saw the opportunity to take a customer base that is largely spread out and give them the opportunity to learn under one roof.
The center offers a fully equipped body shop with mixing rooms, prep deck and oversized paint booth, a 14-foot overhead door for heavy-duty truck access as well as four-post and two-post lifts, a wireless alignment machine, tire changer, balancer and diagnostic labs.
Visitors to the training facility will notice photographs next to tools and tape marking areas around tool boxes on the shop floor.
That is Hovis employing 5S, the Japanese system of production efficiency that was pioneered by Toyota under the belief that tidy work areas make for happier and more efficient employees. It ensures that work areas remain uncluttered.
The training center’s educational curriculum brings together leaders in the automotive, heavy-duty and paint and body industries such as DuPont, AkzoNobel/Sikkens, 3M, Delphi, Federal-Mogul, Abex and Meritor.
The facility is within 30 minutes of most of Hovis’s 14 stores. Stores get deliveries twice daily from the distribution center on premises.
Cliff Hovis serves on the executive committee and board of governors for Federated Auto Parts, while Vice President Curt Hovis serves on a variety of paint, body and equipment manufacturer boards. In addition, Cliff also has served as a member of the board of governors of AWDA.
Hovis hosted an open house March 23-24 at the facility, which brought more than 200 customers to tour the site.
Since opening in November 2011, the Hovis Technical Training Center has trained more than 550 customers.
Open house guests were treated to a BBQ lunch, door prizes, giveaways and a special appearance by “The Chief,” Hovis Auto Wrecking’s 80-ton rotator wrecker.
The open house featured a business management course entitled “More Profits and More Cash for
My Automotive Repair Business,” conducted by Mike Allen, vice president, Federated Auto Parts. Manufacturer representatives and training partners from key suppliers were in attendance to speak with Hovis customers about new products and upcoming training to be held at the center.