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From India to the U.S., the American Dream is alive and well

New ASE board member Tejpal Singh Gill shares his story of rising from an entry-level technician to shop foreman and integrating himself into the industry

Washington, D.C.—Tejpal Singh Gill, a diagnostic specialist and shop foreman at a dealership in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., has been recently elected to the board of directors of the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), the non-profit organization that conducts national certification tests for automotive technicians. Behind this honor is a 30-year career of increasing responsibility and service. Gill is an ASE Certified Master Technician and serves as a quiet role model for the profession.

Born and raised in Village Dhudike, District Moga, Gill came from a farming family and worked on farm equipment with his uncles. His formal village education included primary, higher secondary and two years of college. “I was the first boy in the family to go to college. In middle school, I learned basic mechanical concepts of diesel engines, tractors, cultivating and harvesting equipment.”

Arriving in the U.S. in 1984, Gill said he was adrift but eventually landed a job as a production supervisor with a manufacturer of printed circuit boards. “It was a decent job, it paid well, but it soon started to feel like just a job.” The 30-year-old Gill enrolled in an automotive technician training program in Landover, Md., and was eventually hired at a Lexus dealership in Chantilly, Va.

He has spent his entire career with the dealership and has risen through the ranks. “The shop foreman was a very pleasant person, he was very knowledgeable, and he showed me how to be a good technician,” Gill recalled. As a novice technician, he was willing to ask questions and receive help from his supervisor, take training courses, and earn industry certifications from ASE.

“I had another quality that everyone, my shop foreman, service manager, and the owner noticed — I would not sit around when there were no cars to work on. In the first month, I cleaned and organized the shop to the point that one day the owner mentioned to the service manager that there was something different about the shop. The manager told him that it’s the new guy, when he is not working on cars, he is organizing and cleaning the shop, it looks great.”

This dedication has served Gill well, as he has risen from an entry-level technician to become a diagnostic specialist and now the shop foreman. Along the way he said focused on Lexus training, became a shop leader, participated in industry events and joined industry groups, culminating in his election to the ASE Board of Directors in 2022. 

“A strong work ethic and perseverance accelerated my accomplishments,” Gill said. “I had been actively involved with the Lexus Diagnostic Specialist Council, and Lexus staff had high regard for me. Lexus Eastern Area office staff approached me that they would like to nominate me for the ASE Advisory Council with my permission in 2019. I agreed and submitted all required information. In late 2021, the president of ASE called me and asked if I would be interested in taking a director’s position on the board — I accepted it with honor and today I am celebrating the 50th anniversary of ASE.

‘‘I am the first Sikh to be selected to the board of directors by ASE. What a great honor.”

With three decades of experience, Gill has become is a big booster of the profession and has seen its status rise as automobiles and trucks have become more sophisticated. “If a young individual wants to pursue a career in the automotive field, now is a great time because there is a tremendous shortage of qualified technicians.”

Gill summarized the role played by ASE’s technician certification program: “ASE not only validates technicians’ skills, knowledge, and ability by testing, it also highlights their commitment and dedication to the profession. It helps employers, service managers/shop foremen look at one’s overall commitment and how serious they are being technicians.”

“I am very pleased with where I am today.”

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