Nearly a hundred technicians and shop owners from five Canadian provinces attended the annual LinderTech technical conference in Toronto in May.
It was the 10th year for the regional event organized by John and Leah Cochrane of Cochrane Automotive in the city’s west end, and sponsored by NAPA’s Ontario division.
The two-day event featured table-top displays of diagnostic tools, a hands-on class on how to get the most out of your scan tool, and master classes by John Thornton (Variable Cam Timing) and Peter Rudloff (Unravelling the Mysteries of Chrysler Diagnostics).
John Thornton discusses variable cam timing at the LinderTech training conference in Toronto.
Rudloff, owner of Pete’s Garage in Newark, Del., said he was impressed not only with the number of students who came out but with the dedication they showed to learning the latest tricks of the trade.
“When you see a class of 90-some guys like we have here today, you know that probably most of them are not being paid to be here. Most of them are here on their own dime,” he said. “That shows their dedication to professionalism.”
He has organized his own regional training events in the past, and he knows how much work goes into it.
“It takes people like the Cochranes who are willing to invest their time and money in organizing an event like this and making sure people show up.”
John Thornton (second from left) answers scan tool questions from Adam Barkley, Jason Berends, and Chris Brazeau, all from Berends Auto in Osgoode, Ont.
Getting the turn-out can be tough in our industry, Rudloff acknowledges, but he firmly believes the best and the brightest techs are hungry for good training.
“You’re always going to have a segment of technicians that won’t go to training, and you have a segment that will go to every event they can,” he said. “And in between, there are plenty of people that want to go but don’t have the opportunity, either because they have to pay out of pocket and they can’t afford it, or they just can’t get the time off to go.”
Rudloff believes treating technicians with respect, with adequate pay and easy access to quality training programs, is the key to solving what is widely perceived as a growing skill shortage in our industry.
“You have to know so much in this trade. You have to have a good understanding of electronic engineering, electrical engineering, fluid engineering… so many things at a pretty high level,” he said. “Someone who has that kind of intelligence can go make pretty good money designing cars or designing space shuttles. Why would you fix cars unless you had a passion for it? We really need to reward that in this industry.”
Joel McCutcheon of Anderson’s Transmission in Saskatoon, Sask., and Jason Stewart of Active Green + Ross in Barrie, Ont. learn how to get the most out of their scan tool at a full-day hands-on session.
One of the components of his classes is explaining to less technically-minded managers and shop owners what technicians need in order to fix cars properly. That includes the latest equipment, adequate time to diagnose a vehicle properly, and access to the best repair information.
The hands-on clinic, held the day before the classroom training, was sold out, with 24 students learning the finer points of using Pico’s Four-Channel PicoScope, and Snap-on’s Verus and Modis scan tools.
Cochrane Automotive was open to trainees only on May 1. The hands-on workshop showed techs how to get the most out of their aftermarket scanners.