Having a focus and determination on filling knowledge gaps is what “separates a decent tech from a great tech,” says Luther
Leesburg, Va.—The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence occasionally profiles one of its ASE-certified professionals. Interested in sharing your story with ASE? Send an email with your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org or click here.
ASE World Class Technician
VIP Tires & Service
What is your position in the industry?
I’m an ASE World Class Technician for the VIP Tires & Service in Brewer, Maine.
Tell us about yourself. What made you decide to become a service professional?
From a young age, I always had an interest in drag racing and turbo-charged vehicles. I had a 1995 Eagle Talon TSI AWD and put an enormous amount of time and money into modifying that vehicle. I would take the car to National Trail Raceway in Columbus, Ohio, and drag race. I was always fixing a broken part or upgrading parts on that car. Little by little, it sparked a passion for the automotive repair industry and the rest is history.
Where and how did you get your training to get the knowledge you have today?
When I was a younger entry-level technician, I always learned everything I could from the master technicians working in the shop. I learned a lot along the way and always helped out when I could. I made many friendships along my journey. Working alongside the master technicians encouraged me to read and study complex repairs on various vehicle makes and models. In the past few years, I have done a lot of reading in addition to studying with Motor Age Training and AVI-on-demand. I am always striving to be a better technician every day.
How long have you worked as a service professional?
I have been in this business for 20 years.
What role has being ASE-certified played in your journey?
I started at VIP Tires and Service with zero certifications and in the last five years, I have obtained 25 ASE certifications. Learning the material ASE provided for the certification tests will not only make you a smarter technician, but it will also make you a better technician. You will begin to understand how various things work and operate. My customers see the certifications and trust that I will do a great job.
What are some of the top challenges have you faced as a service professional and how did you overcome them?
About 17 years ago when I was an entry-level technician, I would tense up on some of the bigger and more complex jobs. Whether it was a head gasket or exhaust manifold that was severely rusted, I would tense up and think of all the possible bad outcomes that could happen when I started the job. I was always fearful that anything that could possibly go wrong, would go wrong.
I feel this is a normal feeling for entry-level technicians. As time went by, I learned how to fix those problems that could happen and now they are what I like to call minor setbacks. I just take a deep breath and get after it. As you start to grow as a technician and learn how to fix difficult problems, those uncertainties no longer exist. Currently, what poses the biggest challenge is obtaining specialty tools for some vehicles when only dealerships have access to them. When this happens, I have to take the time to fabricate a tool to complete the repair.
Do you have any advice for today’s students who might be thinking about entering the automotive industry or becoming a service professional?
It is very easy to become overwhelmed as a tech. Every single job you take on is just a process. The cool tools, ripping motors apart, diagnosing electrical issues, and flashing modules are a lot of fun. If you enjoy challenges and value an honest day’s work, then this career might be for you. You have to not only invest in yourself with knowledge but also invest financially in tools of the trade. Automotive repair is a highly rewarding trade and as time goes by you will develop customers for life.
What do you like most about being an automotive service professional?
I like the daily challenges, shop environment, cool tools, and when a customer asks for me by name. When I take on a difficult job and help the customer, I fully explain to them what is wrong with their vehicle and what needs to be done to repair it. When a first-time customer builds confidence and trust in me, they often become a customer for life which is critical in this business.
Every technician has gaps in their knowledge and with working on all makes and models of vehicles, it is very easy not to know everything. Having a company that offers training is a lot of help, especially for entry-level techs. With automotive technology constantly evolving, it is important to seek out those gaps in your knowledge by yourself. You must figure out what areas you’re struggling with and study each area one by one. Having that type of focus and determination is what separates a decent tech from a great technician.