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BJ Penrod, owner of BJ’s Auto Theft and Collision in Denver, Colo., was thrilled to learn that he entered the winning bid for a private tour of Jay Leno’s Garage. The auction was held to benefit the Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) and its work to support collision repair educational programs, schools and students.
“As soon as I heard about the auction, I added ‘tour Jay Leno’s Garage’ to my bucket list,” said Penrod. “My wife Lisa and I watch the TV show, and we can’t believe we won – she’s even more excited than I am!
“I heard about CREF’s auction from my BASF paint supplier, and since we’re big fans of Jay Leno, Lisa and I were very interested. We agreed to start with a $5,000 bid, adjusting our bid as it increased because we had our hearts set on it. We were still shocked that we won with a bid of $10,600. We feel fortunate that we’ve won such an amazing experience, especially knowing that the funds are benefiting such a great cause: the future of our industry.”
As the auction winner, Penrod will be permitted to take three guests on his private tour of Big Dog Garage, where Jay Leno’s Garage is filmed and where his collection of nearly 200 vehicles is housed. The date of Penrod’s tour has not been determined, but he has chosen his guests.
“My wife of 40 years and I have been in the racecar industry for many years, and Lisa is just as much of a gearhead as I am – she loves the smell of 90 weight and can’t wait for our trip,” he said. “We’ve invited a couple we often travel with, and we’re hoping to visit Chip Foose’s shop while we’re out there. We’re waiting to schedule so we can try to work around Jay Leno’s schedule because we’d really like to meet him.”
The Jay Leno Garage Tour auction was facilitated by heavy-duty vehicle lift manufacturer Stertil-Koni, whose equipment is utilized in Leno’s Big Dog Garage in Burbank, Calif. Carl Boyer, shop equipment specialist for Stertil-Koni, first met Jay Leno and his crew at the 2012 SEMA Show.
“Jay and his crew are very genuine people, and we enjoyed working with them,” said Boyer. “Jay is one of the most gracious and charitable people I’ve ever met, and he’s very supportive of a variety of non-profit organizations.”
“For obvious reasons, corporate donations will be tough for many this year, and CREF is sensitive to the fact that many aren’t in a position to contribute like they have in the past,” said Brandon Eckenrode, director of development for CREF. “At the same time, schools need more help than ever; many have expressed concerns about reductions to their already limited budgets. We decided to explore creative ways to raise funds, and CREF is collaborating with industry partners to create auctions for unique experiences and items that will attract all sorts of bidders, not just collision industry professionals.”
Upon hearing about CREF’s new fundraising efforts, Boyer was initially inclined to donate equipment, but he quickly realized, “That would only attract the interest of a certain demographic, so I started thinking outside the box about an auction we could coordinate that would have a much broader appeal. Jay Leno’s Garage came to mind. When I contacted them and told them about everything CREF does for the collision repair industry, they offered up a private tour to auction within 48 hours.”
Since becoming involved with the collision repair industry, Boyer has been “impressed by the industry’s desire and drive to facilitate change and improvement to ensure a safe, proper repair of their customers’ vehicles. The industry is very motivated to restore vehicles to their pre-accident condition. Repairers I know speak very highly of CREF and their noble cause to provide an opportunity for students to enter the collision industry where they can make an excellent living, while simultaneously ensuring the industry has access to well-trained talent.”
Although Penrod was unaware of CREF’s mission prior to learning about the auction, he recognized the importance of their work immediately.
“There’s a shortage of body men because few members of the younger generations want to be in this industry. CREF’s goal is to bring these younger guys into the industry and make sure they are skilled when they enter the workforce. The work CREF does is important, and I’m happy to know that the funds are ensuring future collision repairers are receiving a proper education – through this auction, not only do I get to fulfill one of my dreams, I also know I’m helping to make someone else’s dreams come true by ensuring they receive the training needed to be successful.
“We are besides ourselves with joy that we won this auction and get to support these young guys and gals who will be in entering the industry. This collaboration is a great deal for everyone involved, and all we can say to CREF and Stertil-Koni is, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you!'”
Added Boyer, “It’s well-documented that there is a shortage of skilled techs in the industry. CREF is very important because the organization empowers students who may not have had an opportunity otherwise to learn a great trade. Those skills will enable them to enter an industry that’s short on skilled technicians, where they can use what they’ve learned to pursue an exciting career path with excellent wage opportunities. Anyone unfamiliar with CREF should take a few minutes to research their objectives, their actions and the effect they’ve had on previous students. What CREF does makes a positive impact on a lot of lives and fills a large need in the industry. They need the support of businesses and individuals who believe in their work to support the industry’s future workforce, and I hope the success of this auction encourages others to get creative and come up with their own auctions to support CREF.”
CREF is grateful to Boyer and Stertil-Koni for their support and for connecting them with Jay Leno’s Garage, ensuring that this first auction is a memorable one.
“Hopefully, this is just the first of many exhilarating auctions we’ll be able to line up with the support of the industry,” said Eckenrode. “This and future auction opportunities will allow CREF to expand its supporters beyond just industry partners and get the general public involved. We’re working diligently to coordinate additional auctions in the future that will include similar experiences with auto celebrities, as well as auctions involving unique items and memorabilia. CREF is very excited about the other auctions we’ll be announcing over the coming months, and we welcome others who want to work with us to create auctions and help us raise additional funds for schools.”
Industry members interested in supporting CREF’s efforts to assist secondary and post-secondary collision repair training programs should contact Eckenrode at (312) 231-0258 or [email protected].