You may remember a few months ago when I wrote about a collision repairer named Juan Carlos Gasga Perez who showed off on social media a clever T-shirt he had come up with that said: “AUTO BODY TECHNICIAN — I SOLVE PROBLEMS YOU DON’T KNOW YOU HAVE IN WAYS YOU CAN’T UNDERSTAND.” I wanted to find out more about Perez, so I followed up with him and discovered a truly inspirational story.
He started out in the automotive industry 25 years ago as a detailer at a Mercedes-Benz dealership, eventually getting promoted to detail manager and then running both the detail and wholesale departments. Wanting to make more money, he left the dealership to become a detailer at a collision repair facility, but while there, he expressed interest in becoming a body technician to the manager, who told him that if he could find a replacement for the detail job he was vacating, he’d give him a shot. When Perez found his replacement, the manager told him, “If I hire [the replacement] and I put you in the shop, and for whatever reason you don’t make it, I can’t fire him, so you’re kind of out of luck.”
Perez then asked, “Well, what would make me not make it in the shop? What do you need from me?”
“Hard work and dedication,” the manager said.
“If that’s what it takes,” Perez said, “I’ll roll the dice.”
Perez not only made it but was a star performer. Still, his ambition made him restless. Fast forward to today, and he is now the co-owner of a shop he is currently still building out.
I was very encouraged by Perez’s story because we hear today that one of the reasons young people get discouraged in the collision repair industry is they don’t see or aren’t given a clear path of progression that will allow them to get promoted through the ranks and make more money. Yet here was Perez, who it seems was given chance after chance to climb the ladder and — through hustle, hard work and determination — did just that.
Back to the T-shirt. Six years ago, Perez was thinking about shirt ideas and, searching online, found one with similar words to what he ultimately came up with. A few years later, his wife told him he needed more shirts because he always wore the same one to work. So he finally created and ordered the shirt with the exact words he wanted. And the shirt has gotten attention from the general public.
“I’m a bigger guy, at 5-foot-11 and 260 pounds, and people are always very curious to see what this big guy’s got on his shirt,” says Perez. “When I make that connection that people are actually reading it, sometimes I’ll stop and I’ll stretch it out for them.”
But, Perez admits, the interaction doesn’t usually lead to deep conversations about collision because, he says, “I think they quickly understand that the shirt says that they’re not going to understand what I do.”
He does, however, get a lot of, “Dude, where’d you get that?” from fellow collision repairers. Way to go, Juan, and here’s to continued success!
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