We received 29 nominations for our annual Canadian Technician of the Year award. A panel of 12 judges has been going through the nominations… and we’re down to a short list of just eight guys. We’d like to introduce them to you. Over the next eight weeks, we’ll tell you about our finalists. And on October 1, 2013, we’ll announce a winner. So stay tuned!
Fixing cars is ‘the easy part’ for entrepreneur
Chris Baughman, owner of C.B. Automotive in Bancroft, Ont., says working for himself brings its own challenges and rewards.
By Sarah Voigt
After 10 years of working as a technician, Chris Baughman needed a change. He loved his work, but was tired of playing by someone else’s rules.
In 2009, he took the plunge and opened his own shop in Bancroft, Ont. He still works as a tech, but he can finally do his job the way he wants to. While he admits it’s not as easy as being an employee, he finds being an entrepreneur far more enjoyable.
“Owning your own business is a lot of work, and it’s not as easy as some people may think. Fixing cars is the easy part, but there’s a lot of extra things to worry about as an owner,” he explains.
Owning his own business gives him the freedom he was after. “I can do things the way I want to. I’m not pressured to sell more than I need to or convince people they need services that they don’t. It’s challenging, but much more enjoyable.”
Baughman says helping people is his primary motivation… and he always does what he can to reduce his customers’ stress.
“I like it when a customer is expecting a huge bill and I’m able to help them out for less than they thought,” he says. “I make sure to only sell them what they need. When people come in after a breakdown, they’re already upset. I try not to add to their stress.”
His approach to automotive service has earned him the trust of his customers and respect from his staff. His former employee, Troy Thompson, says his old boss not only taught him to be a better technician, but also a better person.
“Chris is so devoted in the mechanical area that no matter what he has going on, he’s always willing to help someone that comes into the shop. The most important thing he has taught me is the importance of honesty, and our customers would say the same.”
It’s what led Thompson to nominate Baughman as the Canadian Technician of the Year.
In his nomination essay, he wrote, “Chris is fun, easy to work with, calm, and understanding.”
The promise of absolute honesty at C.B. Automotive is supplemented by frequent customer training. Baughman believes that education is the best thing you can give a customer, and he makes sure all of his customers receive a thorough explanation before they walk out the door.
“My customers are more than welcome to come inside the shop. We like to show them their car and make sure they understand how and why we did the repairs. It’s a lot more informative than just reading it on an invoice.”
On the technical side, Baughman is a knowledgeable tech who’s not afraid of a challenge. He identifies electrical pinpoint diagnostics as his specialty.
“Electrical pinpoint diagnostics are a real victory at times. It’s rewarding to come to a result that you never thought would be possible given the symptoms the car has. That’s why it’s tricky, and why you have to stay up-to-date with training.”
Outside the shop, Baughman continues to help the people of his community as a fire station commander at Highlands East, and as a Red Cross instructor. He spends several nights a week training in first aid and CPR. He’s dedication to safety is what makes him unique, and he devotes much of his personal time to looking after his community in critical situations.
Baughman is also a proud father of an 11-year-old boy, who spends time at the shop from time to time.
Despite his busy schedule as a shop owner, emergency responder, and father, he recently started a new venture… as a beekeeper!
“It started out as just a hobby and quickly became an obsession,” he says. “I find them really fascinating.”
Baughman has certainly fascinated our panel of judges. His devotion to his customers and staff has made him a finalist in the Canadian Technician of the Year contest.