The Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) announced the winning teams at the inaugural Top Tech Mentor/Mentee Competition that was held Sept. 28 at Ranken Technical College in St. Louis, Mo. The goal of the competition was to recognize the performance of the next generation of collision technicians and their mentors on critical skills necessary to repair today’s high-tech vehicles. Mentor and mentee teams performed and were tested on competencies the industry has deemed necessary for an entry-level technician.
The first-place team included Bradford Amison, mentee technician, and Frank Allen, mentor, from Service King in Leander, Texas. Amison, who graduated from WyoTech in Laramie, Wyo., has been a mentee for two years. Allen, who has been mentoring young technicians for over 20 years, feels strongly that with a good mentoring program, the industry will be able to encourage individuals to enter and become skilled in the trade.
The first-place team will receive $2,500 for each team member, and the sponsoring business will receive a Chief PNP90 riveting tool valued at $8,000.
The second-place team included John Gault, mentee technician, and Bryan Parnell, mentor, from Caliber Collision Centers in Mt. Moriah, Tenn. Gault, nicknamed Ritter, graduated from Mid Florida Tech and has been a mentee for almost a year. Parnell, who has been with Caliber for over six years, has been mentoring technicians for a year and a half.
“Mentoring is important because quality body repair is a dying art that we must pass along to the younger generation,” said Parnell.
The third-place team included Ian Chambers, mentee technician, and Ralph Gonzales, mentor, from Service King in Dallas, Texas. Chambers is currently attending Collin College and has been a mentee for just under one year. Gonzales has been working with Service King for approximately 20 years and has been a mentor for the last four years.
“I believe it is important to me to show the next generation how to complete a quality repair,” said Gonzales. “It also gives me an opportunity to change a person’s life for the better.”
The second-place team members will each receive $1,000, and third-place team members will receive $500. Both the second and third place teams’ sponsoring businesses will receive a Chief MultiMig 190 welder.
Additional competitors at the inaugural event included:
- Marcus Edwards, mentee, and Alex Joiner, mentor, from Gerber Collision
- Alex Rodgers, mentee, and Ken Strickland, mentor, from Gerber Collision
- Kyle Ray, mentee, and Joseph Baker, mentor, from Metropolitan Community College.
- Robert Burkett, mentee, and Todd Kinzel, mentor, from CARSTAR
- Alex Rodriguez, mentee, and Miguel, mentor, from Fix Auto
“Mentored training is critical to developing our future technicians,” said Ivan Albright, technician development program manager at Gerber Collision. “When industry and schools work together, we will enable entry-level trainees to build the skills and proficiency required to become journey-level technicians.”
“I am proud to lead a program that allows newer entrants to the collision repair workforce to provide high-quality repairs through a structured mentor training program. A critical foundation for our success is working with these schools that provide the most current education.”
Added CREF Director of Strategic Partnerships Christen Battaglia, “I want to congratulate all the teams that competed in the Top Tech Mentor/Mentee competition. Their energy and expertise is a shining example of how collision industry mentoring programs help new technicians succeed. I would also like to thank the sponsors of the event. Without their generous support, we would not have been able to celebrate the success of these talented technicians and their mentors.
“Having a strong pipeline of skilled collision repair technicians is critical to the long-term growth of the automotive industry,” said Troy Weaver, Vice President of Global Refinish for Axalta. “Axalta is proud to be a part of the solution by supporting the young men and women who receive training from CREF and who compete in their skills tests. The skills they are learning today will be invaluable assets for the collision repair industry tomorrow.”
Sponsors for the event included:
- Axalta Coating Systems
- Gerber Collision & Glass
- Chief Automotive Technologies
- Norton/Saint Gobain
- Service King Collision Repair Centers
- Caliber Collision
- Ranken Technical College
- Enterprise Rent-A-Car
- SAS Safety Corp.
- Automotive Technology, Inc.
For more information on CREF, visit collisioneducationfoundation.org.