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Editor’s Notes: How About a Career in the Auto Body Industry, Son?

Just the other day, I once again had the “what do you want to do with your life” discussion with my 15-year-old son. And I brought up a career in the auto body industry.

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Jason Stahl has 27 years of experience as an editor, and has been editor of BodyShop Business for the past 15 years. He currently is a gold pin member of the Collision Industry Conference. Jason, who hails from Cleveland, Ohio, earned a bachelor of arts degree in English from John Carroll University and started his career in journalism at a weekly newspaper, doing everything from delivering newspapers to selling advertising space to writing articles.

Just the other day, I once again had the “what do you want to do with your life” discussion with my 15-year-old son. Yes, maybe he’s a little young to think about that yet, but I was nonetheless interested in his thoughts. After all, those thoughts change by the day. First, he wanted to go to Ohio University and study engineering. But after this winter, he said he and his best friend had plans to go to college in Florida because he was sick of the cold. Kids.

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Knowing his interest in cars, I have often told him of the myriad career possibilities in the auto body industry, how the demand for young techs far exceeded the supply, how scholarships and sometimes free starter toolkits were there for the taking, and how maybe his dad’s connections could help him. Also, that he could be in and out of school in two years and be making good bank. The reply I usually got was, “Yeah, but…”

Funny, that was the same reply I got from him when I told him I would help him start a grass-cutting business this summer. In the case of auto body, the “Yeah, but…” was followed by, “I don’t really want to work on cars. I’d rather design them or something.”

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OK, fair enough. As far as the “Yeah, but…” with mowing, I’m pretty sure hard labor in the hot sun while choking on mower fumes was what made him hesitate. And I think it’s the same hard labor in auto body that scared him off, too.

Listening to the panel discussion titled, “Shortage of Qualified Employees, Developing Talent and Retention,” at the MSO Symposium at the recent NACE | CARS show reminded me of the opportunities out there for a kid like Jake. We’ll have another chat about his future career, and for all I know he’ll tell me he’s now thinking about being a pharmacist. I’ve never been pushy with my kids, though, preferring that they choose their own way. All I can do is supply him the info, right?

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