FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Greater Cleveland Automobile Dealers’ Association
“Grow Your Own” Tech Program Helps
Northern Ohio Dealers Fund Apprentices
Cleveland, OH (August 20, 2015) - For the second straight year, the Greater Cleveland Automobile Dealers’ Association, through its Auto Dealer Educational Assistance Foundation (ADEAF), is helping dealers across Northern Ohio find new automotive technicians. As a part of a unique program called the “Grow Your Own” Apprentice Service Technician Grants, the GCADA offers its member dealers grants to offset employment costs of apprentice technicians from qualifying post-secondary schools.
“This program is an investment that should go a long way toward helping our member dealers staff their service departments for years to come,” says Louis A. Vitantonio, president of the GCADA. “As the baby boomer generation inches ever closer to retirement, there is sure to be an increasing need for qualified service technicians. This program allows our members to expand their staff by employing an apprentice that can receive valuable hands-on experience. That will help ensure that the next generation of service technicians will be able to deliver the highest possible level of service for our member dealers’ customers.”
Through the program, the ADEAF will reimburse a dealer the approximate equivalent of two months’ pay or a maximum of $3,200 when they hire an apprentice automotive technician. The employee must be a graduate or currently considered a second year student at a qualified school, and be enrolled or recently graduated from an automotive technician curriculum. Pre-approved schools with an automotive technician curriculum include Stark State College and Cuyahoga Community College, although other schools may be approved at the discretion of the Board.
Currently in its second year, the program has already been a great help to dealers looking to find aspiring automotive technicians.
“We performed a follow-up with our member dealers participating in the program, and found that the majority of the apprentice techs who entered the program in 2014 are still with their dealerships today,” says Dennis Rose, director of field services for the GCADA. “It’s very important that as an association we help the industry get new blood into dealerships’ service departments. And with all the computers and technology in today’s vehicles, these kids seem to be a natural fit. They have grown up with iPads and smartphones so they are used to dealing with technology, but they still need appropriate training and hands-on experience.”
As a part of the 2014 program, apprentice service technician Nicholas Geraldi was hired at Liberty Ford in Solon last year. He’s still at the dealership today.
“He’s worked out so well that I actually went back for another apprentice tech grant this year,” says Jack Blair, service manager at the dealership. “I now have two students working at our dealership, and I am very proud of them both.”
Apprentice automotive tech Cody Soehnlen came on board in May of this year.
“This is simply a great idea,” adds Blair. “It allows us to test these guys out to see if they have what it takes and it allows them to see if they really want to be an automotive technician.”
Other service directors are also quick to applaud not only the program, but the apprentices who are participating. The newest hires are now in dealerships; Abboud Tabajni is an apprentice working at Ganley Ford West in Cleveland.
“If the people coming out of this program are anything like Abboud, it’s going to be a great program,” says Mac McClafferty, parts and service director at Ganley Ford West. “He’s working out really well. Financial assistance always helps when you are trying to bring in people and train them. This is a tough business right now, and it’s even tougher to find people with an education that also have hands-on experience.”
Even dealers who are trying it for the first time are impressed with what the program offers.
“But to tell you the truth, it wasn’t the only reason we hired Andrew Trumps back in May,” says Scott Acker, service manager at Bob Gillingham Ford in Parma, OH. “When we found out about the program, it was like getting a bonus. It also allowed us to use the money we saved on his salary to get Andrew the additional training and tools he needed.”
“In order for an automotive technician to have any kind of a chance, they need to get into the atmosphere and be around it from the ground up,” adds Chris Bryan, service manager at Pallotta Ford Lincoln in Wooster, OH, who entered the program this year with apprentice tech Vinny Morris. “They can’t just be thrown in. They have to be around people with experience and learn from them. That can be a slow process.
“These young techs need to watch the older guys, who can monitor them and point them in the right direction. That’s something I had when I started out. This program helps us do that.”
About the GCADA
The Greater Cleveland Automobile Dealers' Association (GCADA) has served the retail-automobile industry and community with integrity and distinction since 1915. Today, located in Brecksville, Ohio, GCADA represents over 250 franchised motor vehicle dealers, which include new-car, truck, motorcycle and RV dealers in a 21-county region of Northern Ohio along the Lake Erie shore and beyond. More information on the GCADA can be found at www.gcada.org. Contact us at 440-746-1500.
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