I can hardly believe I am sitting here writing my final column for 2016. It seems like such a trite thing to say, but, where has the year gone? Let’s just get these next few sentences out of the way. Did you reach or move toward your goals? Have you taken time to evaluate where you are and where you wanted to get to? Well if not, you’d better get it done.
Now that that is out of the way, I want to follow-up with last month’s column. I discussed the shortage of good automotive workers and the fact that we do have some help. It was not anything revolutionary, but dig out the November issue and get caught up if you like.
Since I wrote that, I have had several phone calls and e-mails about the subject of scarce talent to employ. The message is all the same: No talent. No youngsters. No interest.
Also since I wrote those words, I had the good fortune to attend the Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) Job Fair in Columbus, Ohio. It was held at Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center and was nothing short of awesome. More than 300 young students were there to learn about our profession of working on and repairing vehicles. There was pure excitement in the air. They were excited, the instructor was excited and the vendors who participated were genuinely engaged.
There were equipment companies there. Several consolidators, paint companies, I-CAR and yes, even insurance companies were represented. One dealer group was there and two really cool food trucks. But wait, what about shops? Who is it that needs techs? I found it stark by comparison. Those who need the students were not present.
Today, I had a call from a lady I met several years ago in Chicago at a waterborne conference we held. She had a very interesting perspective. There are those of us in the industry not doing our part to promote our industry. Most shop owners have not even allowed or tried to get their children into the business, she said. She was very articulate in the whys of this: Dirt, cold floors, aches and pains, lack of margins. The list went on.
We all know the downsides of what we do, but if we cannot even promote our own profession, why would we expect anybody else’s families to get involved?
I guess we can just close and lock the doors when each of us is done or do something about it. Schools love support. We are all business people — go talk at a career fair. Take an apprentice student in. Promote your business as a production facility. That’s what it is, you know.
There are 250 million vehicles out there. They are not going to fix themselves. Nobody is going to offshore vehicle repair or parts distribution. There is a future here. Let’s get out and support organizations that promote our industry.
It starts with you and me.