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!
Diagnostics are a welcome challenge for Edmonton tech
Shop foreman Blaine Boutin says he’s a stickler for making sure things get done right the first time.
By Allan Janssen
His boss says he could have been a surgeon if he’d put his mind to it, but Blaine Boutin insists he was born to fix cars.
“It sure seems that way,” he says. “I’m passionate about this trade. I know there are a lot of negative things that have been said about it. It’s expensive to get into, and our image isn’t the best. But the truth is you can still make a decent living at it, conditions are a lot better than they used to be, it’s fun, and you’re dealing with interesting stuff. It’s definitely not boring!”
Although he went to the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology to study electronic engineering, Blaine found he was more suited to life in the repair bay.
“I found I could incorporated what I learned at NAIT into what I do now… mostly electrical and diagnostic work,” he says.
Through the years, he’s risen through the ranks, to lead-hand at Dyneco Automotive in Edmonton’s south-east side, where he supervises four licensed techs and two apprentices. His success in the bay is unquestioned, and it helped him become one of the eight finalists in our annual Canadian Technician of the Year award.
“Blaine’s intelligent and his intuition are impressive,” says management trainer Dave Meunier, co-owner with Mark Stevens of Dyneco Automotive. “He puts things together in a hurry. I’m telling you, he could have been a surgeon if he’d wanted to be, but he definitely has a passion for cars.”
“Blaine’s dedication to the trade is unbelievable,” he says. “The guy is a stand-up technician as far as educating, and diagnosing, and trying to explain some very complicated repairs to our clients.”
Stevens nominated Boutin as the Canadian Technician of the Year based on his track record.
“He has a thorough understanding of electronics. He’s very well versed in sensor operations, wave-forms, power-ground, voltage-drop, a lot of things that mechanically oriented technicians are not the best at,” he says. “Whether it’s intermittent electronic problems or drivability problems related to noise and vibration, he just doesn’t get stumped.”
The only downside is that it has become harder to find challenging training courses.
“I find the training these days is a little on the basic level,” he says. “If you want to take more advanced training, it can be difficult to find. That’s why I depend a lot of time reading. I read everything that comes across my desk. It’s the only way to keep current.”
In fact, he’s been known to take trade magazines into the company’s Monday morning meetings to discuss the technical articles.
“Most techs just show up for the meetings,” says Stevens. “Here’s a guy who prepares for them and helps to lead them!”
As shop foreman, he gets involved in a lot of troubleshooting.
“I call myself a fireman because I have to put out a lot of fires,” he laughs. “Everyone gets humbled now and then. Part of my job is to go over and help figure out why a job’s hung up. I have to keep things rolling.”
Many of the people who work with Blaine – or who have the privilege of watching him work – are amazed at the depth of his focus and skill. He is a meticulous technician.
“I won’t accept sub-par work, and I absolutely hate comebacks,” he says. “I’m kind of a stickler to get things were done right the first time. If you work at our shop, I expect you to do your very best work.”
Blaine says Dyneco keeps a low come-back rates with strict quality control procedures.
“We train the guys so that when they’re done a job, they go over their work again, and then road test it. I do a lot of road testing to just make sure it’s been done right. You have to go the extra mile to make sure every job is done right. Spend an extra 10 minutes rechecking things, because if it comes back, you’ll probably have to spend hours on it. That just kills productivity.”
Blaine is helping to lead the industry forward. He works with the Provincial Apprenticeship Committee, which recently rewrote the apprenticeship curriculum. Working with apprentices is something he enjoys. He likes seeing them put their academic training to work.
“I want to see these guys succeed,” he says. “First they get the classroom training and then they get the practical experience while it’s still fresh in their minds. I find it works best that way. My challenge is to make sure they don’t develop bad habits.”
One of his charges is his own 17-year-old son, Rylan, who works part time at Dyneco.
“He just finished high school and we keep him busy doing floors and cleaning cars. I’ve done a little training with him on the basic stuff, tires and such. But I don’t think he’s interested in entering the field. He wants to get into engineering.”
Who knows? Maybe Rylan’s interest in engineering will eventually lead back to the repair bay, like it did for his father.