Auto Service World
Feature   October 1, 2013   by Allan Janssen

Edmonton tech named Canadian Technician of the Year

Blaine Boutin, of Dyneco Automotive Service in Edmonton, tops nationwide search which drew 29 nominations from coast to coast.



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’ve always been doing repairs. Growing up on the farm, we always did our own repairs. We fixed everything there, just learning as we went.”

Blaine has spent the best part of 25 years developing his skills as a diagnostic technician, and working his way up to foreman and lead technician at Dyneco Automotive in Edmonton, Alta.

Now the 43-year-old technician has been named the Canadian Technician of the Year.

The award comes with $5,000 in cash plus an assortment of prizes from sponsors Snap-on Tools of Canada, Federal-Mogul, Total Lubricants, and AIA Canada.

Blaine originally considered electrical engineering as a career after doing audio installations at a stereo shop.

“I was really interested in that and I started doing electronic repairs. That’s what made me think of getting into electronic engineering,” he says. “After a while, though, I figured out that wasn’t really what I wanted. If I stayed with it, I’d end up building computers at a desk.”

Instead, he took what he learned at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology into the automotive bay.

“I transferred it right into this,” he says. “I learned a lot about electrical; I learned a lot about electronics; and I learned how the systems in electronics and computers work. To this day that really helps me.”

Now he supervises three other licensed techs and two apprentices. His success in the bay is unquestioned, and it led his boss, Dyneco co-owner Mark Stevens, to nominate him as the Canadian Technician of the Year.

“Blaine’s dedication to the trade is unbelievable,” says Mark. “The guy is a stand-up technician as far as educating, and diagnosing, and trying to explain some very complicated repairs to our clients.”

He says Blaine excels at the kind of work that mechanically-oriented technicians are not the best at.

“Whether it’s intermittent electronic problems or drivability problems related to noise and vibration, he just doesn’t get stumped.”

Part of that is because Blaine loves a good training course.

“Most techs just show up for the meetings,” says Mark. “Here’s a guy who prepares for them and helps to lead them!”

Mark co-owns Dyneco Automotive with Dave Meunier, a well-known management trainer. He says Blaine is a textbook example of a technician who has gotten “on board” with management principles, even though he spends most of his time in the repair bay.

“Blaine’s intelligent and his intuition are impressive,” says Dave. “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.”

Dave and Mark both say Dyneco’s reputation for quality work has a lot to do with Blaine.

“We always knew what we had in Blaine,” says Dave. “There were lots of people that started sending vehicles from other shops for Blaine to figure out. He was always our go-to guy to solve the toughest diagnostic problems that no one else could solve.”

“That’s not to say it’s always easy,” Blaine laughs. “Everyone gets humbled now and then!”

But those who watch 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 done right the first time. If you work at our shop, I expect you to do your very best work.”

He says Dyneco maintains its low come-back rates by employing 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.”

He enjoys working with all the guys in the shop, but particularly the apprentices. He tries to show them that automotive repair can be a collaborative job – something he learned years ago from his own mentor at Canadian Tire, Marc Bourret, now a trainer for the Edmonton Rush lacrosse team.

“He didn’t give me the answers. He wanted me to think. He wanted me to understand what I was doing,” says Blaine. “And I still do the same thing.”

He says flowcharts can lead technicians “down the garden path” and force them to spend more time than they should, testing things that aren’t really relevant.

“I try to get the guys to first think about how things work. Look at the big picture. When you think of things that way it makes it a lot simpler,” he says. “Everyone thinks diagnostics is so complicated. But it’s all signals; it’s all electrical. You just have to think about what the component is trying to accomplish.”

Blaine says he won’t be turning wrenches until he kicks the bucket.

“Oh no! I couldn’t! This job is too hard on the body!”

But he has given some thought to teaching. He has plenty of good advice for young apprentices.

“You need to listen. You need to ask a lot of questions and listen to the answers,” he says. “I think a lot of people come into this industry thinking it’s going to be easy. It’s not easy. You can’t just grab some wrenches and become a mechanic. It’s not that simple anymore. It’s way more technically advanced than it ever has been. And you have to be willing to learn.”

He’s already taken a baby step into the teaching world by getting involved with the provincial apprenticeship committee, which recently rewrote the apprenticeship curriculum.

“I really enjoyed that. We just did a complete overhaul of the curriculum for apprentices in this province. We took out what is outdated, what is no longer relevant, and we added in all kinds of new technology,” he explains. “We had to get back up-to-date, because it hadn’t been overhauled in over 10 years.”

Part of that included incorporating some maintenance procedures that hadn’t been covered before. Blaine is a big believer in preventive maintenance, proving the value of that model with his own 1998 Chevy truck.

“It’s got 418,000 clicks on it with the original engine, tranny, and differential. There are no leaks on that truck, because it’s been fully maintained from day one. The maintenance schedule is the reason it’s still running,” he says. “The maintenance schedule is going to save you money in the long run. I’ve seen the numbers.”

There’s something appropriate in Blaine’s driving a 15-year-old vehicle that is kept on the road with a combination of muscle, preventive maintenance and TLC.

“This is the find of stuff that’s fun to work on,” he says. “It’s one of the reasons I love this job. It’s definitely not boring!”


Thank you, judges!


The Canadian Technician of the Year award celebrates those who demonstrate leadership in the industry, their shop, and their community.

Finalists were judged according to their skills in general repairs, diagnostics, and customer service, as well as their commitment to training, improving the image of the industry, and projecting a positive attitude.

Special thanks to the industry judges who gave their expert opinions:

* Matt Armstrong – Licensed technician at Sussex Corner Service Center, Sussex Corner, N.B.

* Rod Gillies – Licensed technician and owner of GillTech Auto Repair in Red Deer, Alta.

* Allan Haberman – Trainer and diagnostic troubleshooter with ACA Mobile Diagnostics and ACA Training in Winnipeg, Man.

* Clara Hooper – Owner of Buny’s ’N Bugs Auto Repair in Chilliwack, B.C.

* Dan Lazin – Licensed technician and owner of Advanced Automotive in Cambridge, Ont.

* Matt Martel – Licensed technician and owner of Lebrun Service Centre in Ottawa, Ont.

* Michael Smith – Technical writer for CPCPA in Montreal, Que., which develops training courses for automotive technicians.

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