This article is part of an ongoing series to highlight and promote the technician career — demonstrating to kids, parents, and teachers how becoming a technician is a rewarding career path that can be lucrative and open the door to many opportunities within the industry. Are you a technician who would like to be spotlighted? Sign up!
Technician Spotlight: Lindsey B.
Name: Lindsey, B
Job Title: Retired Shop Owner
Industry Experience: 36 Years
How did you get started in the automotive industry?
I started working in a garage my grandfather owned when I was eight. I went to college for three years as a mechanical engineer and technologist. During college, I would work at my uncle’s garage to help make some money for college. When he retired, I opened my own garage and ran that for 25 years. It was a small mom-and-pop garage. I had the opportunity to get bigger, but I decided to stay as a small garage. It was the best thing I ever did for me and my family. It gave me the opportunity to watch my kids play sports and spend time with family. Eventually, I had to retire because of my back, but I still have no regrets. I would tell anybody to get into this trade.
Do you have a lot of family in the industry?
My uncle and grandfather both owned a garage. My grandfather opened his garage right after the second world war in the small town I come from. I liked the idea of owning my own shop because I always thought it was one of the four corners of any town. You have a garage, store, post office, and church. I always thought of it as a cornerstone for the community, and it’s just in my blood. I tried working in construction for a couple summers, and it wasn’t for me. The money was good in construction, but it just wasn’t for me. It wasn’t about the money, it was about what made me happy.
What is your favorite part of being a technician?
It was different every day. You get up, and every day is a new challenge. Your brain never gets to stop, and you are constantly thinking. That’s what kept me in it; the people and the challenge. I had the best customers. I knew their families, got to know them really well, and even went to their weddings. It was not a dealership mentality. I got to see the cars, meet the families, and it was the best.
What were the greatest skills you learned as a technician?
As a technician I learned the ability to communicate and think through problems. There are always going to be cars that frustrate you, but the challenge was great. If you’re working on something and someone else comes in with a problem, you have to be able to multitask. Not only did it teach me so much about people, but it also taught me so much about myself. Everything about what I did as a technician and shop owner has made me a better person.
What do you wish more people, especially high schools, knew about the profession?
I wish they knew how much knowledge and money it takes to be a good technician. People need to understand, we used to be described as the stupid trade when I first started, and now things are changing. People don’t know the amount of wiring and technology in a vehicle. Now we have more technology in cars than ever before, and we have to keep learning. We can’t be complacent. Technicians need to constantly be learning new things. We are the doctors of cars.
What are your thoughts on the education system for technicians?
We have a lot of trade schools, but they have to be invested in properly. We also have to be consistent in what we are teaching these kids. The curriculum can’t be different depending on which trade school you go to, because not all schools can afford the same resources. We need education on what is changing and advancing in the industry.
What is the best advice you would give to shop owners?
Work hard, be honest, and care about the work you do. Be transparent. If you’re having trouble with a car, be honest and say you’re having trouble with a car. Garage owners have to not fight with each other. It’s a big world, and there are enough cars for everybody, so we should share the knowledge. You might run into something you’ve never seen before, but the guy down the road has done it many times. We have to help each other out. We come from being looked at as a dishonest trade. As long as you’re honest, you can make a good living. I’d rather make less money and be honest with people than make more money and lie. My first boss taught me to treat everybody like it’s the last time you’re going to see them, but I didn’t want to do business like that. I wanted everybody to come back and be repeat customers.