Auto Service World
Feature   March 1, 2000   by Auto Service World

Over the Counter: March 2000

Ontario Readies Parts Specialist Apprenticeship

A parts specialist apprenticeship program is being readied for release by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

Ontario is one of the few jurisdictions to not have a parts person apprenticeship program, says ministry program coordinator Barney Mensell. “You can learn (the trade) by empirical methods; manufacturers have a lot of training materials, for example.”

Mensell says that the apprenticeship is intended to be voluntary. “This is a good news thing. It’s there for those who want it, though there will be no requirement.”

Mensell says that the trade was identified by the ministry as one which was in need of an apprenticeship program and the program was developed at the urging of industry, an assertion which has some in the aftermarket concerned. There appears to have been very little if any consultation with the traditional aftermarket players.

“There is a question about who was asking for this,” says Randy Moore, incoming AIA chairman and a member of a Centennial College advisory committee which has discussed the program. Moore says that he is concerned the program has been developed at the urging of non-traditional aftermarket players such as dealers and heavy duty businesses. The ministry’s steering committee includes a number of OEM and dealer parties as well as heavy-duty interests. ACDelco and Canadian Tire are also represented.

As yet, a curriculum has not been released, but the proposal includes two 10-week classroom sessions and the requirement that the apprentice be employed.

Centennial College in Scarborough, Ont., has applied to offer the program.

Peter Woodall, who is in charge of the Motive Power Apprenticeship program at Centennial, says the college is looking forward to offering the program, and it hopes to be able to do so by mid-April, but it has already been delayed once.

“It would be a voluntary trade; it wouldn’t be mandated, certainly not at this point. We plan to run the program four times a year. We were planning to run the 20 week program, but the ministry wants apprentices to take a 10 week session, then get a year’s experience, then come back to the second 10 week session.”

The 600-hour program does not require tuition, but does require apprentices to have a sponsoring employer. It is expected to be offered at several locations around the province.

AIA and CARS Take Tool Tax Fight to Ottawa

The Automotive Industries Association went public with its campaign against the tool tax, in a bid to free up the $50 million in tax revenue the government costs technicians by not allowing them to deduct the cost of tools from their taxable income.

AIA president Ray Datt and Dan Bell, president of the Canadian Automotive Repair and Service (CARS) Council, made presentations to media and government officials covering both the unfairness of the current tax situation as well as its impact on the industry’s ability to attract new technicians.

“A 1999 national industry survey indicated a typical technician or apprentice has invested some $15,000 in personal tools, while more than 50 percent have invested more than $20,000, and over 10 percent have invested more than $50,000. Sixty percent of technicians reported costs exceeding $1,000 annually just to replace or update their tools. Many have to spend much more,” said Datt.

While the tax situation has remained unchanged for many years, technological change has increased the burden on technicians dramatically, says Bell.

“In 1985, the cost of the tools that a technician required to perform a fuel pressure check was $50. Today, to complete that same check, a technician must use tools valued at $800. On top of this, some tools are specific to only one vehicle type. For example, Cummins Dodge diesel tools cost over $1,500, but can only be used on Cummins Dodge diesel vehicles.”

Both Datt and Bell said that the current tax situation not only costs current technicians money, it also acts as a deterrent to young people entering the trade, a situation which already threatens to compromise the industry’s ability to service the vehicle population as older technicians leave the profession over the next number of years.

“We want to ensure that Canadian motorists will have access to young talented automotive technicians to repair and maintain their vehicles in the years ahead,” says Datt. “We want to encourage young people to become automotive service technicians. Today’s technicians are highly trained computer literate professionals. The expenses related to being a technician are high, but with a fair tax deduction, young Canadians can feel confident that they have entered an exciting and challenging career with a future.”

Specialty Sales & Marketing to rep UltraFit

Specialty Sales & Marketing has signed a deal with UltraFit Manufacturing to rep its line of exhaust products in Canada, with the exception of Ontario.

Kennedy Sales Company will continue to represent the line in Ontario.

“We want to build our distributor and installer loyalty in Canada,” says Malcolm Sissmore, vice-president sales & marketing for UltraFit. “SS&M certainly has the top notch sales staff and the overall credentials to help us do that, so we see terrific growth opportunities for us both.”

Delphi Appoints Veterans To Run Canadian Aftermarket

Delphi Automotive Systems has announced that it has appointed Cle Smith and Emmett Grant to head up Delphi Aftermarket Canada.

Smith, the former president and CEO of Dominion Automotive Industries, which ceased operations last year, leaves his position as president of the Traditional Division of Grant Brothers Sales Ltd., to become manager, Delphi Aftermarket Canada. Emmett Grant, who retired from his position at the head of Federal-Mogul Canada last fall, will serve as a consultant. Both are long-time veterans of the Canadian automotive aftermarket, both also having served as chairmen of the Automotive Industries Association of Canada.

Frank Ordonez, Delphi’s general manager, Aftermarket Operations, made the announcement. “Cle brings important relationships with customers, vendors and trade associations, as well as top-level management experience that will prove invaluable as we focus our efforts on building a strong aftermarket brand in Canada,” said Ordonez. “Emmett’s and Cle’s knowledge of the Canadian aftermarket will be an important asset as we work to make Delphi the brand of choice in the Canadian automotive aftermarket.”

Smith is involved in automotive industry organizations, having served as chairman of the Automotive Industries Association of Canada, the Heavy Duty Distributors Council, and the Electronic Commerce Advisory Committee.

Grant began his career with Moog Automotive in 1964, and was subsequently appointed president of Moog Canada in 1980. In 1992, he was named president of Cooper Automotive Products Canada.

Federal-Mogul Retaining Visibility Group

Federal-Mogul Corporation has decided to retain its lighting, wiper blade and fuel businesses, which had previously been identified as potential sell-offs.

These businesses represent approximately $700 million U.S. in annual sales. F-M chairman and CEO Dick Snell said the decision was based on the contribution these categories make to the bottom line and the fact that market conditions meant any offers the company received were not up to expectations.

Moog Charity Ball Joint Launched

Federal-Mogul Corporation launched the Moog M2 Challenge for Charity to support the marketing of its Moog M2 Technology.

The charity donated $25,000 to a charity chosen by the winner of the Daytona 500, $100,000 U.S. if the winner was a past Winston Cup champion.

M2 Technology is the newest advancement from Moog. It is available in steering and suspension parts, including ball joints, tie-rod ends, idler arms, and sway bar links. It features a full-ball metal stud and double bearing with a new “gusher” design for improved steering response and durability.

CIAS Exhibitors: Need help at the show?

AIA is offering exh
ibitors participating in the Canadian International Automotive Show the opportunity to participate in the Canadian Automotive Institute’s Students Placement Program.

The Canadian Automotive Institute (CAI) at Georgian College offers a unique three-year certificate program that includes an aftermarket stream. The AIA Trade Show allows interested CAI students a chance to participate in a major aftermarket event. This is the third year the program has been offered; more than 15 students were involved at each of the ’96 and ’98 shows. The exposure to aftermarket industry offered by the AIA Trade Show plays an important role in encouraging CAI students to pursue careers in our industry. Exhibiting companies receive knowledgeable help at the show and have the opportunity to meet and evaluate a potential employee. CAI offers its program in both English and French, so a number of bilingual students are available. Bilingual CAI co-op students can assist your permanent staff to communicate with your clients at the show, or free up time for permanent staff to mingle with customers, perform more complex tasks or attend meetings.

For further information call Mireille Schippers at AIA: (613) 728-5821 or e-mail her at

RTI to Supply Midas with A/C Service Equipment

Midas has selected RTI Technologies as the preferred supplier of air conditioning service equipment.

Midas announced it would be entering the a/c service market during Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week, naming Visteon as its primary partner.

Under the agreement with RTI, the Midas outlets will be supplied with turnkey packages including recovery and recycling equipment, service tools, flushing materials and consumables such as lubricants, o-rings and orifice tubes. The agreement also calls for RTI to provide basic a/c service training and support throughout the U.S. and Canada.

A reader writes:

Dear Mr. Greenwood,

I would just like to express my congratulations regarding some of the past few articles that you wrote.

I am a licensed technician with over 14 years experience in the automotive trade. I subscribe to SSGM magazine and also have access to Jobber News. Currently I am enrolled in the Automotive Marketing/Business Administration program at the Canadian Automotive Institute located in Barrie, Ontario at Georgian College.

I have decided to further my education in a field that I love so much. Being an Automotive Technician is a very strenuous career with little rewards, namely the vast knowledge that must be acquired and the inability to deduct tool expenses.

I am writing in regards to all the recent articles that you have written namely the article that was published in the November 1999 issue, “Shortage of Technicians May Be Driving Your Customer Crazy.”

I feel that consumers need to be more educated about the pains an Automotive Technician has to endure while trying to earn a respectable living. As I previously mentioned, we are unable to deduct our tools that we must purchase ourselves (I feel that consumers believe that this is all provided for us); why can’t we deduct them, after all we are spending on average between $10,000 and $30,000; musicians etc. are able to deduct their instruments (if the Government can justify this, I would like to hear it).

You mentioned competent technicians in your article. I know that not all technicians are competent, but the ones that are are the ones that keep themselves updated by reading articles; taking night school courses; attending seminars etc. I wish that consumers would know how much training goes into being a competent technician. Automotive Technicians are not “grease monkeys”; when I hear people say that it makes me burn inside.

I would just like to quote this article, “On the positive side, the industry, and the consumer, need to recognize the skill and overall talent that is required to be a competent technician today. Society rewards talent through its pay scale, and the pay scale for this profession has been too low for too long.”

This is also another reason that I chose to save my earnings and return to school. I am a diesel, electrical and driveability specialist and have my air conditioning, propane and natural gas licenses on top of my class “A”.

Kudos to you Mr. Greenwood for the fine articles that you write. I just hope that more people read them besides automotive technicians, installers, jobbers and distributors.

(Name withheld by request.)

PartSource continues to add to its store total, announcing that a 7,800-square-foot store will be opening in Oshawa, Ont., this Spring. The franchise is to be run by Bryan Armstrong, most recently senior manager, commercial operations for PartSource.

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Mannesman has announced that it will be spinning off its Engineering & Automotive business in an IPO as a result of the parent’s merger deal with telecommunications leader Vodafone. Mannesman is also a telecommunications leader in Europe. The company’s automotive holdings include Sachs and VDO businesses.

The company’s engineering businesses focus on materials handling, controls, hydraulics and plastics technology. A new name for the Engineering & Automotive business had not been announced by press time.

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Modine Manufacturing Company has filed a suit against Delphi Automotive Systems Corporation in the United States for infringing one of Modine’s patents on PF (parallel-flow) air-conditioning condensers. The patent was previously defended against Showa Aluminum, in 1996, preventing it from importing infringing products. Modine says that Delphi continued to make the products for GM vehicles, even after it was notified of Modine’s concerns. Modine is seeking an injunction and damages.

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