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In Richmond, Va., a group of dedicated employees gather each morning at 7:30 a.m. for a morning meeting run by Maaco owner Hanson Butler to review and plan the work for the day.
What is unique about this meeting is the 17-year-old in attendance — Alshun Smith, a first-year apprentice to veteran body technician Kenrick Cox.
Cox was born in Trinidad and Tobago and moved to the United States 25 years ago. He has more than 40 years of experience in the collision repair industry and is considered a master body technician, having learned the trade from his father starting at the age of 11.
“I’m a strict teacher, and I’m imparting to him that it takes time, patience and attention to detail to do the job right.” — Kenrick Cox
Cox is now sharing his knowledge with Smith, who began working at Maaco after graduating from high school this year. Cox is teaching him the skills needed to make complete and proper body repairs, as well as many life skills.
“I’m a strict teacher, and I’m imparting to him that it takes time, patience and attention to detail to do the job right,” said Cox. “Alshun is a fine young man and a quick learner. I’m very impressed with his progress so far.”
Added Smith, “What I like about the collision repair industry is that the work is never-ending, as there will always be cars to repair. I grew up loving cars since a young age. I’m currently working on my 2005 Acura TL, adding a body kit, rims and other additions. Of course, I will have it painted at Maaco. I feel like there is a great deal that I can learn from Mr. Cox. He is an excellent teacher, and I know that I am learning from one of the best. These skills will help me someday start my own business in automotive sales. I plan to buy cars from auctions, repair them on my own and resell them. My goal is to have my own car dealership in the future.”
At a time when finding new talent is very challenging, Butler’s Maaco facility has found a formula for success that he aims to repeat.
“These are two very special individuals,” said Butler. “Kendrick has learned everything from A to Z about repairing cars, both here and in Trinidad and Tobago. He had a strong desire to pass that knowledge on to someone new coming into the industry. Alshun is ambitious and more than willing to learn from a master craftsman. It has developed into a great relationship that benefits us all.”