“MTTI has helped our organization—it’s a team effort. We enjoy seeing the students have success.”
I was 34 years old, with 2 children. I had been successfully working for 16 years in retail and retail management. But the work—and even the awards I won—left me feeling unfulfilled. As more and more brick and mortar stores closed each year, I became concerned about the uncertain future of the industry. And my resume for all those years of work just read: ‘retail—retail—retail.’
Growing up, I never really had a chance to work on bikes or cars. My Dad built and rebuilt motorcycles. My Dad was in a motorcycle club—all the guys in the club wrenched. Having grown up around mechanics, the whole culture of the garage intrigued me. I liked the way mechanics, in a garage or dealership, work together as part of a team.
On the same day I received that notification, I visited MTTI. In retail management, they taught us to take measured steps—not jump blindly into something. Despite not knowing much about the automotive industry—or whether I could be successful as an auto mechanic—I leaped. I had read reviews about MTTI, and knew people who had graduated from the school; everything was positive. Cheryl, the Admissions Rep, toured me and my wife through the building and shop. My wife gave me the ‘OK’ to enroll. Three days later, I started class in the Automotive Service Tech program.
Arturo is an unsung hero in the shop. He shows you things step-by-step—breaking it down so you can do it yourself. Glen, the main Instructor is amazingly smart—he knows everything about cars. There wasn’t a question we asked that he wasn’t able to answer. He is super-passionate about auto technology, and takes a genuine interest in his students.
I don’t think most people recognize the value of Career Services at a school. Think about what it is like to hunt for a job—to fill out application after application, and get rejected. Having someone with a rolodex, who can just plug you in, is invaluable. Erin is awesome! She said, ‘Here’s a list of people who are hiring.’
I was looking for the managers who would take time to see me—ones with whom I could develop a good rapport. Erin suggested I contact Herb Chambers Honda. Sandra Lotero, the Assistant Service Manager at Herb Chambers, put me in contact with their Service Manager, Tom Meier. I was open and honest with Tom about my abilities. I told him that I have a strong work ethic, and that I was willing to learn anything!
I started working at Herb Chambers a few months before I graduated from MTTI. I went there after class, from 4-8 pm. After graduation, I was hired full-time. Right away, I recognized a difference compared with working in retail. Retail is driven by numbers; the metric is how much you are selling. It’s cut throat, not cooperative. I’m enjoying the culture at Herb Chambers, where people help one another.
That’s the metric I want. As soon as I arrived, I set out to make people comfortable so they would want to work with me. The shop has little groups of people who network with one another and are comfortable working together. When you network with good people and help one another, you can do great things.
When I couldn’t figure something out, Matt walked me through the job. Matt is in his mid-twenties; he’s already a Honda Master Tech. He’s absolutely brilliant when it comes to cars, and the ‘go-to guy’ for everybody. There’s no real benefit to him for helping me; he’s just willing to share his knowledge and skills, which speaks volumes for his character. Anthony is a night student at MTTI, working days at Herb Chambers. A really good mechanic already, he’ll be phenomenal when he graduates from MTTI. He’ll help out with a job when it is hectic, and cheers everyone up with a quick joke.
As a new graduate, it’s a bit intimidating to walk into a garage where you will be working with accomplished mechanics. But management here has your back; they make your entry smooth. When they see you are working hard, they show their appreciation–and that encourages you. My Manager, Tom, is great. He understands the pressures, because he has worked in a garage. He’s done the job and has moved up, so he supports the guys!
I thank my wife, Michelle for supporting me. She was a super-mom, clocking in long days and nights. She would get the kids up in the morning and put them to bed at night—while I got up and went to school, and after school went to work. Many times, I had to FaceTime with my kids, at their bedtime, to say goodnight. My wife and I made the decision that if I was going to train as an auto tech, I would do it the right way. Now, we both couldn’t be happier with the decision we made.
I love working in the automotive industry. I’m feeling successful. At MTTI, you get out what you put in to your program. I gave it everything I had—everyday. I worked hard to graduate and find the right position in the automotive industry. Coming in, I wanted to know that the job I was training for is one I can do for life. Working as an Automotive Technician at Herb Chambers Honda, I feel am getting the great future that my family and I deserve.
1. Spotlight: Joe at Herb Chambers Honda, working in his bay.
2. Joe performing an inspection.
3. With Herb Chambers Honda, Service Manager, Tom Meier.
4. Joe with Matt and Anthony at Herb Chambers Honda.