Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend the 2011 National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Technician Recognition Awards celebration. This year’s event was held in Charlotte, N.C., at the Marriott City Center. It’s always nice to visit Charlotte this time of year and avoid some of the gloomy cloud cover that invades us here in Northeastern Ohio. Charlotte is a growing city and home to NASCAR as well as other professional sports organizations. As such, the majority of our participants made sure to tour the NASCAR Hall of Fame or head to the track for a few laps in a live car.
ASE plays an important role in our industry in that it provides a level set of testing criteria for the service side of the automotive market as well as the collision repair industry. I think it’s a testament to this non-profit organization’s credibility that every major original equipment manufacturer as well as most of the aftermarket companies were at the awards celebration to honor and recognize this year’s winners. For many years, BodyShop Business has sponsored a Collision Technician of the Year award to recognize the top-scoring collision repair tech in the nation. This year’s recipient was Michael Baker of Pacific, Mo.
Mike has worked in the collision repair industry since 1975, is ASE certified in collision repair and currently works for Pro-Tech Collision. He attended the ceremonies with his wife, Judy, and was surprised by his daughter and grandson who came in to watch him receive his award. He’s an avid car person and was one of the guests who went off to take a few laps at the track the following day. Mike, I hope you turned in some good lap times!
Every year, more than 190,000 ASE tests are taken, and this event recognizes the top 40. To have been in a room with the top 40 repairers in this country was quite an honor. I had the opportunity to meet many of them, and they all had one thing in common: the desire to grow and learn. That’s what makes the really good technicians better; they’re constantly striving to learn new and improved ways to keep our U.S. fleet on the road and safe.
In 2012, ASE is making the move to electronic testing. This is a huge step forward for all of us in that it will streamline the testing process. Many people have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make this innovation a reality. My hat goes off to all those who volunteered their time and energy to move our industry forward.
You all know how I value training. I’ve expressed the importance of it many times in my column, and will continue to pound the drum as long as I’m part of this great industry. To Mike and all of the winners this year, I say “Congratulations!” and hope to see you again at a future industry event.