Auto Service World
Feature   March 25, 2014   by

The Doktor is in!

Christopher Doktor celebrated his 20th year as a Mazda technician by winning the company's annual technician competition. He said his win was a result of some serious preparation.

Lallo Mazda in Brantford, Ont. must be doing something right.

For the second year in a row, one of its technicians has won the Mazda Master Technician competition.

Last year’s winner was Joe D’Sabatino.

This year, it was Christopher Doktor, who also scored the highest on the written exam given to all 300 of Mazda’s Master technicians.

Doktor is celebrating his 20th year as a Mazda technician. He said his win was a result of some serious preparation.

“My dealer principle was kind enough to give me a 2014 Mazda 3 to work on. I trained on it for three weeks leading up to the competition,” he said. “I wanted to get really familiar with every component on the vehicle. I basically took the whole thing apart to see where every connector is.”

This year’s competition, held last week at the company’s Richmond Hill, Ont. headquarters, challenged competitors to find six different problems on a 2014 Mazda 3 GS SkyActive. Each technician was given a laptop and a scan tool, and they were allowed to bring their own basic hand tools. After two hours, the technician that scored the most points by correctly diagnosing and repairing each issue was given the title.

The field of contestants was comprised of the top three scorers on the written test, as well as one tech from British Columbia, one from the Prairies, two from Ontario, two from Quebec, and one from Atlantic Canada.

Second place went to Ghislain Côté of Accés Mazda in Victoriaville, Que.

Coming in third was Lee Poetter of Dubois Mazda in Woodstock, Ont.

The other competitors were:

* David Deweerd, Stratford Mazda, Stratford, Ont.

* Yannick Nadon, Elite Mazda, Gatineau, Que.

* Reynold Bergen, Crown Mazda, Winnipeg

* Todd Squires, Penney Mazda, St. John’s, N.L.

* Jeffrey Gibbons, Destination Mazda, Vancouver

* Perry Phuong, Westowne Mazda, Etobicoke, Ont.

* Rick Gregorio, Wolfe’s Langley Mazda, Surrey, B.C.

The panel of judges that administered the competition included Mazda’s regional technical trainers, previous winners, and a number of long-term Mazda employees. A judge supervised each technician during the competition and each vehicle was thoroughly inspected afterward.

Back home in Brantford, Ont., Peter Merklinger, service manager at Lallo Mazda, said he was impressed – but not entirely surprised – that Doktor and D’Sabatino were back-to-back winners.

“Both Joe and Chris are very interested in the vehicles, especially the electronic diagnostic end of it,” he said. “They really have a flare for it. They do a lot of reading and they take their training more seriously than most. They want to fully understand the vehicles they work on. And that makes a big difference.”

Mazda made a few changes to the competition this year to keep a level playing field for all the competitors.

“We change the criteria for the competition every year, because we usually have a few people return to compete again,” said Craig McQueen, technical trainer for the Ontario and Atlantic regions, and one the competition’s coordinators. “We always pick a problem that they can find in our service information. If they look up the symptoms, they should be able to find the repair on our Mazda service system.”

Three technicians who competed in last year’s challenge tried their luck again this year, including Yannick Nadon from Elite Mazda in Gatineau, Que., who placed third last year.

“It was a lot harder this year,” said Nadon. “It was different. All of the problems were geared towards the first problem and you had to fix that to get going. It was very challenging but it was well organized and fun.”

This year, a separate rewards banquet for the Master Tech competitors was held on the night of the competition. The top techs were invited to Mazda’s national gala in downtown Toronto the following night, which also recognized dealership staff in the parts, sales and finance departments.

While Doktor will now be ineligible to compete at next year’s competition, he encourages young techs to get involved in skills competitions.

“You have to challenge yourself. Every day in this job is a challenge,” Doktor said. “With all the electronics onboard, you really have to know what you’re doing. But it can be a lot of fun, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat!”


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