I recently received an interesting phone call. A shop owner in British Columbia asked how much one should charge an apprentice to rent a former technician's tools. It seems the older technician had retired and left his former employer his...
I recently received an interesting phone call. A shop owner in British Columbia asked how much one should charge an apprentice to rent a former technician’s tools. It seems the older technician had retired and left his former employer his tools. This shop owner had an apprentice who needed tools and was willing to rent that former technician’s tools until she had come into possession of her own.
Jim Anderton and I did help this shop owner calculate a reasonable fee for the tools; but this phone called raised some interesting questions which I would like to hear some feedback from our readers. As technicians retire, is there a way we as an industry might help make their tools available to apprentices at the beginning of their careers when they have few tools of their own.
One thing I often hear is how difficult it is for young people to enter this trade because of the high cost of the tools needed to start. Unlike many other trades, this is not one where you can show up to work on the first day with a screwdriver and hammer. When I spoke with Ronald Tremblay, owner of Vancouver-based The Garage last year, he mentioned when he started work as a technician, the tools needed to fix a vehicle could be mounted on a workman’s rack and probably numbered about a dozen. That number has now increased probably 10-fold, not including the ever-increasing range of scan tools needed to diagnose a vehicle.
If this industry could come up with a way to make tools more readily available to apprentice technicians, and at fees that are reasonable, we might begin to see more people taking this career path. Europe overcomes this issue by having the shop own the tools. Technicians may have a set of favorite hand tools they carry about them, but the majority of the tools used during the day in the bays are loaned out to the technician for the day and returned at the end of the shift. While such a system is non-existent here in North America (or at least I have not come across a shop that does), coming up with a means of making tools available on a lease or rent program in shops is an option that, I believe, should be given serious consideration.
Another advantage is for those technicians who have retired such a rent or lease program would allow them to have another source of income and the satisfaction of seeing their tools helping a new generation of technicians.
Let me hear what you think of this or even if you have a story about something similar happening in your shop.
Have your say: