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 described as ‘good all-round tech’
Michael Briggs – who foiled a would-be bank robber – says helping people is one of the rewards of his job.
By Sarah Voigt
Michael Briggs knows that a good customer experience is the key to success.
That’s what he’s learned during the last 16 years at Grant Street Garage in Ottawa.
“For me, helping the customers is very important,” he says. “We’re on a first name basis with about 85 percent of our customers here. When you take that extra mile to talk to them, it really means a lot to people. They’re not just a number; they have a name and they mean something to us.”
Mike is an important player at the business his father started in 1964. Since obtaining his license in 1997, he has worked hard to become a leader in the shop. He’s also quick to work the front counter whenever he’s needed. The friendly atmosphere that the Briggs family has created is what draws new customers in, and Mike’s professional attitude and technical knowledge is what keeps them coming back.
Technical skill is in Mike’s blood. His father Rick says, “Mike has always had an interest in mechanics, just like myself and his grandfather,” he explains. “I’ve got pictures of Mike from when I was restoring a 1962 SS convertible in my garage at home. He couldn’t even reach over the fenders but he worked right with me, side-by-side.”
Mike and his father Rick continued to work side-by-side at Grant Street Garage until Rick retired recently.
Mike’s passion for mechanics continues to be a driving force in his career, and he prides himself on being a “good all-round technician.” He says he isn’t afraid to take on the jobs that have other techs stumped. If a car comes in with a steering or suspension noise, it doesn’t take him long to pinpoint the cause.
He attributes this keen ability to his commitment to training, and like many technicians, he wishes there were more training available in his area.
“The way the industry is changing right now, you’ve got to keep up with training,” he says. “We’re always willing to take more training courses but I find that a lot of the really good ones are held during the day. That makes it tough on small shops like ours.”
He says it’s better for him if the course is available during the evening.
“We stay busy throughout the year, so it can really back-log everybody here when someone’s gone during the day," he says.
"We don’t mind taking the courses at night. It means coughing up a little bit of time with your family, but you do what you have to do.“
Mike is never afraid to do what needs to be done in order to help people, and for the last five years he’s been a volunteer firefighter in his community. Whether he’s helping a customer understand their vehicle, or responding to a fire call, he says helping people is part of his personality.
A few years ago, a local woman learned this first hand when she ran into trouble at the bank up the street from Brigg’s garage. After nearly being robbed, Mike was one of the first to respond to her cries for help.
“I was working in our pit doing an alignment. I happened to look up the street and saw a fight had broken out and a lady was screaming for help. I took off to see what was going on.”
Mike quickly realized that one of the men in the scuffle had attempted to rob the bank. After being unsuccessful, he targeted the woman outside who was carrying a large amount of money. Mike managed to restrain the robber until the police arrived.
“It was one of those things that definitely doesn’t always happen in your lifetime but it was a good thing to do, and the police were quite happy because the guy was actually wanted for robbing banks in London, Ont. as well. They said it was a good pick!”
Outside the shop, Mike is now a father of two young children, to whom he dedicates most of his free time.
Mike has impressed our panel of judges and is one of the eight finalists in the Canadian Technician of the Year Award.