Ontarios Josh Booy is a self-described tech geek who loves the excitement of learning new skills, and the challenge of fixing cars.
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!
Woodstock tech looks for ‘the toughest jobs’
Ontario’s Josh Booy is a self-described tech geek who loves the excitement of learning new skills, and the challenge of fixing cars.
By Allan Janssen
If Josh Booy can’t find the right tool to fix the car at hand, he’s apt to build it himself.
The 27-year-old licensed tech at Steve’s Automotive in Woodstock, Ont., has been known to take soldering iron in hand to solve recurring problems with some store-bought circuitry and scrap metal.
At a recent training course, he learned the emissions from a vehicle’s tailpipe could be converted into digital signals… so he built a device to measure them, with supplies from the local hardware store. Total cost: $15.
Right now the self-described “tech geek” is in the middle of perfecting his own signal generator – a piece of equipment that generally sells for upwards of $3000.
“I’m working with $26 in parts, and that ought to do it,” he says. “I’m not sure when I’ll have it done, though. Whenever I get some time, I guess!”
It’s just another example of the initiative and resourcefulness that led his brothers Derek and Dave to nominate him as the Canadian Technician of the Year. And it’s part of what made him one of our finalists.
To Josh, however, that kind of dedication to the trade is just part of being a good technician.
“You have to be interested in things like that if you’re going to excel as a technician,” he says. “If you understand how something works, or if you understand what the problem really is, you’ll be able to solve it. That’s pretty much where we’re at in fixing cars. You can’t just power-and-ground stuff anymore. It’s all computer-controlled electronics. That’s what I really like about this industry, the way it’s changing.”
Staying on top of things requires constant education, and that’s fine with Josh. He takes every course the company sends him on. And when the company has maxed out on its training budget, he’ll spend his own money to take a course that has captured his interest.
“We pay for about 16 courses a year,” says Derek, his service manager at Steve’s Automotive. “As a business, we take training very seriously and it is mandatory. But even when that training is done, Josh wants more… and he does it on his own. It’s definitely a benefit to us, because he’s a lot smarter for it.”
“Yeah, I love it,” admits Josh. “When you learn new things, you can do so much with it. Like, when I learned how to do a volumetric efficiency test, I thought, this is awesome! You learn how the car really works. It’s great. But you have to find the best courses and the best trainers. You have to search for it.”
Derek says Josh definitely goes that extra mile, whether it’s fixing cars, or taking training, or mentoring another technician.
“I always joke around with him that he needs to spend more time with his family, because he’s here training so often. He just loves it,” he says.
For Josh, the real joy of the job, is finding the root problem.
“I hate being beaten by a car,” he says. “I worked on a farm once and the farmer fixed all his own tools and vehicles. His motto was, ‘If a man made it, a man can fix it.’ And that really stuck with me. I take that to heart. I really don’t like to be beaten.”
He says he looks for the toughest diagnostic jobs.
“Those are the ones I like best,” he says. “Not everybody does, but I like a challenge.”
And part of the challenge is beating the clock. Derek says Josh routinely bills more hours than he’s actually in the shop. His average proficiency over the course of a year is about 150%… and his pay would reflect that expertise.
“We have profit sharing here, and it’s based on your proficiency, so there’s definitely an incentive to do quality work as fast as possible,” says Derek.
“Working quickly has been in-bred in me, especially working for a time at a dealership,” says Josh. “If you’ve got the right tool for the right job, and you’ve got the information, you can go pretty quick. I strive for that. The more experience you have, the faster you can go. I like to be the fastest.”
When he first started working at Steve’s, for example, he learned the previous best tech’s proficiency numbers, and he endeavoured to beat them. Within a few months, Josh had better numbers.
He’s generous with this knowledge, however, never hesitating to share his expertise.
“It’s very rewarding to help another tech," says Josh. "We just had one this morning, a failed emissions test. The car was running lean, but idling fine. The tech didn’t know where to start. It was fun to walk him through the job.”
His brother Dave, service manager at the company’s Owen Sound location, says Josh is his first call when his technicians are faced with a real head-scratcher.
“Just last week, he helped on of our seasoned techs diagnose a 2004 Ford F450 6.0 diesel with a misfire – over the phone!” Dave wrote in his nomination letter. “Our tech owned a lab scope but had never been trained on it. With the phone set to speaker, Josh (in Woodstock) walked our tech (in Owen Sound) through the testing procedure and was able to rule out the FICM as a possible cause of the problem. We were sure the FICM was the problem, as per DirectHit and other diagnostic trees. Rather, Josh successfully diagnosed the #2 injector over the phone.”
Dave describes Josh as one of the most committed and driven techs he’s ever worked with.
And in his work as a youth leader at a local church, Josh is trying to inspire the next generation of technicians.
“A few kids have shown an interest in the trades, and I try to encourage them,” he says. “In my view, any trade is valuable. Not every kid will thrive in university. Some are perfectly suited to a skilled trade. I try to get them excited about that.”
No doubt his talks with them are inspiring. His own excitement about the trade is infectious!
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Read about our other finalists:
Jeremy Allen, Scotia Hyundai, River Hebert, N.S.
Chris Baughman, Chris Baughman Auto, Bancroft, Ont.
Blaine Boutin, Dyneco Auto Service, Edmonton, Alta.
Michael Briggs, Grant Street Garage, Ottawa, Ont.
Duke Chafe, Chester Service Centre, Chester, N.S.
Have your say: