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!
Finalist known for his commitment
Nova Scotia technician Duke Chafe says a deep love for his community keeps him dedicated to the craft of fixing his neighbour’s cars.
By Sarah Voigt
For Duke Chafe, the best part of his job at Chester Service Centre is the challenge.
“Everyday is something different, and that’s what makes it interesting,” explains the 55-year-old licensed tech from Chester, N.S.
Only a few years ago, life presented a whole other challenge for Duke. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. To the surprise of his family and co-workers, Duke continued to work each day during his treatment, which included surgery and radiation therapy.
His daughter, Harmonie, who nominated him as the Canadian Technician of the Year, believes his hardworking attitude undoubtedly contributed to his remission. After his successful battle with cancer, he was chosen as the honorary chairman of the village of Chester’s annual Relay For Life fundraiser in 2011.
When he’s not turning wrenches at Chester Service Centre, Duke is a volunteer firefighter. For over 30 years, he’s been serving his hometown and for the last nine years he has held the position of fire chief. As fire chief, it’s not uncommon for Duke to be called away during a job.
“We average about 150 calls a year,” he says, “and 40 percent of those calls are during the work day. It’s not always easy to do both jobs but we’ve learned to make it work over the years.”
Last year, Duke’s dedication to his community as volunteer fire chief earned him a ticket to Ottawa where he was presented with a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award by Minster of National Defense Gordon O’Connor.
Despite his busy schedule as a full-time technician and fire chief, Duke’s love of cars is what keeps him interested, and he knows that in order to be a good technician you have to stay current with the latest technology.
“You can never get enough training. Vehicles are constantly changing, and you need to keep up in order to be successful.”
Duke’s long-time employer, Terry Bremner agrees… and he’s seen Duke’s training pay off in the shop.
“For years Duke was our main troubleshooter,” says Bremner. “He’s great at finding electrical problems. We’ve got lots of guys to change oil and work on brakes, but it takes a lot of studying to be a good troubleshooter.”
Aside from his diagnostic skills, Bremner commends Duke for his dedication to both of his jobs. “He’s very committed here, and as fire chief. He likes to have a hand in whatever’s going on. When he decides he’s going to do something he sticks with it to the bitter end.”
When he’s not working at Chester Service Centre or responding to fire calls, you may see him cruising the streets of Chester in his 1978 Camaro Z28. With just a few modifications, Duke was able to make it almost identical to the car he used to own as a teenager. He’s proud to show it off to anyone who is curious about it.
Above all, Duke’s involvement in his community is what drives him each day, and he says that’s something he loves about his job. “I’m lucky enough to be close to home everyday, and that’s the way I like it. Being in a small town, I really enjoy working so close to my friends and family. I’m able to be there for them when they need me.”
Duke’s hardworking attitude and dedication impressed our panel of judges. Duke is one of eight finalists in the Canadian Technician of the Year Award.