Modern Tire Dealer

FEB 2019

Magazine for the professional tire industry

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M T D F e b r u a r y 2 0 1 9 26 F i n d i n g T e c h n i c i a n s recovered to 2008 employment levels. From 2008 to 2012, the number of new positions for technicians dropped by 62,600. By 2016 48,800 of those jobs, or about three out of four, had been recovered. And these numbers don't take into account the need to replace technicians who retired, were promoted, or left the occupation for an entirely new career. It also doesn't account for technicians who leave one employer for another and continue to do the same work. e Tech Force Foundation has worked to account for all of those variables, as well as the trends of what's happening in service bays (technicians needed per vehicle, service hours), the overall health of the economy, and vehicles in use and miles driven. Its goal is to create a true picture of technician demand (see chart on page 22). In 2019, it adds up to 77,886 technicians. Settle says the government has maintained its employment projection models based on old employment patterns. e government has assumed when an 18-year-old entered the workforce, that person joined a company and never le until it was time to retire. "ey'd show very few churns. We hear all the time now how kids are going to have seven-to-nine careers in their lifetime. We've already seen the effect of that. It was a factor of about three that (the old models) were off. For every one person needed, it was basically three." Kevin Rohlwing isn't surprised by those figures. e son of a tire dealer, Rohlwing is senior vice president of training for the Tire Industry Association. He's 52, and says many of his Generation X cohorts have le the industry. ey were working for baby boomers and grew impatient waiting for their turn to move up and lead. Other industries offered them that chance. e result? "We've got a huge talent gap. We've got the boomers and then the mil- lennials, and we've got nothing in between." Tire dealers need to start cultivating younger talent and recruit people into the industry, Rohlwing says. But they have to show potential for growth down the road. "Dealers are starting to understand that this younger generation is not just going to come in, get a job and work for money. ey want to know 'What's the path? What's the endgame?'" He says new entrants have some understanding that they'll have to work their way up, but they also want to know what's in it for them. "Just getting a paycheck isn't enough anymore." Tire dealers used to think of health insurance as the differentiator, but that's not enough anymore, either. Rohlwing says health insurance is expected, and your competitors are offering it. "It's a competition for talent. Who's going to get the best talent? It's about money. It's about benefits. It's about equipment." Owners and managers also need to take an honest look at their business' curb appeal. Nice-looking building, clean trucks and new tools versus unattractive building, old trucks and rusty tools. Training is another key, Rohlwing says. "Am I going to provide you training, or am I just going to let you shadow somebody and learn a bunch of bad habits and hope you don't get hurt? "is younger generation is not fooled. ey ask, 'What can you offer me? Why should I work for you instead of him?'" INSPIRE THEM TO COME, AND STAY Chris Blanchette is director of technical operations and innovation for Bridgestone Retail Operations LLC. On any given day Bridgestone employs 15,000 technicians at its Firestone Complete Auto Care, Tires Plus and Wheel Works stores. "We need these individuals to be inter- ested, engaged, educated, and we're willing to do a lot of that ourselves," he says. "We feel an obligation to provide that to our teams." A salary comparison of four trades Occupation 2017 median annual wage Automotive service technician $39,550 Plumber, pipefitter, steamfitter $52,590 Electrician $54,110 Heating, air conditioning and refrigeration installer $47,080 Median wage for all workers $37,690 SOURCE: BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS Cardeyair'e Trammell is learning hands-on skills, including how to mount tires, as a junior in high school. Bridgestone has outfit- ted a portion of the automotive classroom at East Community Learning Center in Akron with a small showroom and customer waiting area, and later this year students will open the doors to their own Firestone Complete Auto Care store to the public. Zaveon Carter operates a lift inside the East Community Learn- ing Center's automotive classroom. Trammell is a junior, and in the first year of a two-year program.

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