Auto Service World
Feature   April 1, 2005   by CARS Magazine

Service Provider Professionlism

Ed Jagt of SSGM Garage of the Year Pro-Tech Tire and Auto in Barrie responds to editor Jim Anderton's editorial "Money and Respect" in the January issue:...

Ed Jagt of SSGM Garage of the Year Pro-Tech Tire and Auto in Barrie responds to editor Jim Anderton’s editorial “Money and Respect” in the January issue:

In response to Money and Respect SSGM-Nov. 2004

Dear Jim:

Yes, we Techs have taken it on the chin for 50 years or more.

However, you have to realize that we as an industry have done this to ourselves.

“Oh, let me listen to that noise for you” “It must be the lifter or wheel bearing or whatever” and then “Oh no charge for that thanks for dropping by” but the best yet would be “Sure I’ll come over tonight and change your water pump for you, you just buy the beer”. How professional is that???

Most of us Techs are good-hearted people, and very adaptable to all the changes in our industry. Yet we don’t think of ourselves as the professionals that we are!

I am a Tech/shop owner and I’ve had to take lots of training myself to keep up with the changes that have come over the years. I’ve had to earn licenses for my Class A, Natural Gas (3), Propane (3), Drive Clean (2), Ozone Depletion and probably I have taken others but am unable to remember them at this time.

At my shop, we all believe in training and that it is a major part of our existence in this industry. We believe that with the right training and equipment we are able to repair and service anything. Because of this we are also trying to change our public image so that we are viewed as a more professional trade.

You Jim asked me once “Can you make money in this industry?”

I answered yes. My guys are of the highest paid in this city; and why not, they are the highest trained (in my opinion), and my shop has the latest and greatest tools and equipment available. My door rate is also the highest in the city, and we are one of the busiest shops in the city. I provide an excellent benefit package for my staff and yes; I make money too!! I believe that if we change the way we regard ourselves from “Grease Monkeys” to Professional Automotive Technicians then everything else in the industry will follow. Why should I only charge $69.00/hour because John down the street is at $69.00/hour? Believe in yourself and your knowledge and charge what you feel you are worth … possibly $85.00/hour or more.

I believe that this Industry is getting better and better as time goes on and that we all can enjoy many prosperous years in our chosen careers.

Ed Jagt, Pro-Tech Tire and Auto in Barrie

Speaking of people in our industry that don’t always get the respect they deserve, Injectronics trainer Mike Duguay responds to Bob Greenwood’s column in the December issue of SSGM about training versus development:

Hello Jim;

I wanted to take this moment to comment on Bob Greenwood’s article (December Issue) entitled … “Training or Development”.

What follows, are my comments / experiences / feelings, on what Mr. Greenwood had to say.

1st: During a luncheon meeting with my employer, he mentioned to me that it costs his company a minimum of $5,000.00 to develop, research, publish, each and every course that is presented to technicians/shop-owners alike. The 12 – 14 hours that Mr. Greenwood mentioned, to me anyway, is on the low-end of the scale!

2nd: “Consider what we want … from a technical instructor today … he/she MUST have complete answers/solutions”. I would like to express, just how true this statement is! On average, I will devote 4 – 5 hours of additional study (research, if you like), for every hour I teach/instruct. Why? Because, as Mr. Greenwood highlighted, it is required of me! Many long hours, of tedious reading research / support material … tsb’s … manufacturer’s bulletins, etc., all add to the quality of the presentation for the paying student(s). Am I complaining about this? … Absolutely Not!… I’m just reinforcing Mr. Greenwood’s comments.

3rd: “Consider the instructor’s enviroment … travel … away from their family … living out of a suit-case … etc.”. This, is so true! For 9 – 10 months of the year, I will, on average, be away from my wife (and my children / grand-children), 20 days each month. On more than one occasion, my wife has called me on my cell phone, to make sure that I am getting sufficient rest … am driving safely … not eating junk-food … etc.

And, yes, the classes I teach, are for the most part, presented in the evening. And when a student, says “thanks, for coming here, teaching me this information, etc.”, it helps to reinforce my efforts to keep going!

Before I conclude this E-mail, Mr. Anderton, I would like to share with you an example of a previous week’s schedule, that I followed:

Monday, 5.30 AM. Wake up, taxi arrives, arrive at airport by 6.45 AM.

Fly from Abbostford to Calgary, arrive at 9.30 AM.

Pick up rental car, and drive to jobber’s warehouse in Edmonton to pick up previously shipped teaching prop(s), student’s books, etc. (Arrived in Edmonton about 12.00 PM.) Find a motel, and take time to review up-coming class lesson. 3.00 – 4.00 PM, arrive at teaching location, in Edmonton, and set up classroom (depending on the number of students, room size, etc, this could take up to one hour to complete!) 5.00 – 5.30 PM, students begin arriving, dinner is served, and I begin instructing at 6.00 PM, and wrap up the lesson at 10.00 PM. Then I will pack up the prop, etc. and arrive back at the motel by 11.00 – 11.15 PM. After completing the necessary paper work, it’s usually ‘lights-out’ by midnight.

Tuesday, 6.00 AM. Wake up, and begin the drive west to Grand Prairie, arriving at approx. 11.00 AM (depending on weather, road conditions, etc.). The rest of the day, pretty-well follows the same time frame.

Wednesday. Same time schedule as Tuesday, except that I will now return to Edmonton, to teach a second class at that location.

Thursday, 7.00 AM. Begin driving south to Calgary, arrive at local jobber’s warehouse and arrange to have the teaching prop, remaining books, etc., shipped to next instructor (which could be anywhere in Canada, or the USA.), or back to head office in Manitoba. 2.00 PM, arrive at Calgary airport, check in my bags, and patiently wait for the 5.50 PM flight back to Abbotsford. 6.30 PM, plane lands at home airport, and I am back home by 8.00 PM.

Depending on the teaching schedule, I could be teaching at a fourth location on Thursday evening, and thus my travel-home day would be moved to Friday.

At any rate, I hope this helps all who attend such classes to understand how much effort is put forth to bring to them quality information, which is designed to help them to fix diagnose today’s vehicles. I trully enjoy what I do, and, on occasion, the travelling is exhausting. But as long as I, and my family, are able to work with this life-style, I will continue to work with Injectronics Training Ltd to present the latest technical/diagnostic information to shop owners and technicians alike.

And to all who take the time to attend and support these classes, I would like to extend to all, a sincere “Thank You”!


Instructor for Injectronics Training Ltd.

The same Bob Greenwood column evoked a strong response from south of the border, too:


I was so impressed with your letter – your thoughts and vision, you truly amazed me. My first thoughts were of how outstanding you put them together and how logical they were, and how little room you left for debate.

I forwarded your letter to several of my friends. My replies and or lack of them had my curiosity, how could anyone not come to the same logical conclusion? After all, these are people that are members/leaders of industry organizations.

One reply was from a very forward thinking person, his reply was the same as mine. Fantastic !!! How do we get this to other shop owners?

As of this e-mail I could only get a hold of one other shop with a phone call. His reply lead me to believe he just did not get it !

Our industry is made up of too many individuals that have only short term thoughts.

People that have your unique ability to analyze the root cause of industry-wide problems put it into a strategy that will correct it, will be easier, however maybe a longer process than thought it was going to be.

Thanks ,

Bruce Koeppen – Master Technician

Contract Sales & Service Inc.

Menomonee Falls Wisconsin

P.S. Please do not leave our industry !!!

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