Editor’s Note: At the time of this writing, CMA Hyundai of Lynchburg was known as Craft Hyundai.
Today’s automotive maintenance industry isn’t what it used to be thanks to fast-moving technological advancements that make a technician career job equal parts skilled trades and information technology. Increasingly more systems within a vehicle have relied on computerization since the 1970s, and today’s vehicles can have upwards of 60 computers inside of it telling every system how to do its job.
That’s why when we had the chance to talk to Jason Fleming, service manager at Craft Hyundai in Lynchburg, we were excited to hear more about how the field is constantly changing and adapting to new technologies.
Like other skilled trades industries, the automotive maintenance field has faced older workers retiring, without a queue of younger workers to fill their shoes. We asked Fleming three questions about Craft Hyundai and what it takes to be an automotive maintenance technician in today’s industry.
What does hiring look like at Craft Hyundai? What positions are you looking for and who makes a good hire?
We’re looking for someone who is dedicated, motivated and passionate about learning. We’re looking for someone who is tech-savvy because everything is computerized. This work is in the same curriculum as electronic engineering and anyone who has a background in the automotive industry is highly desirable. Beyond that, the dealerships and manufacturers provide critical skills training. Someone who is entering this field should be willing to grow and continue learning. They need to be able to broadly analyze a situation, think critically and use common sense.
When you think of an auto shop, many may think about a picture of dirty hands and oil-stained rags laying around. What does the field look like today?
That is a common stereotype. There is a difference between routine maintenance, and a technician that does that day in and day out, versus someone who is trained to repair new technology. There’s an average of 60 computers, or control units, in some vehicles. There is a “brain” in every component of your vehicle. The repair process is so much more involved due to the electronic nature and computerization of the vehicle. You can’t just replace a pump anymore. You have to check to make sure things are communicating with each other and with the failed component. It could be a mechanical issue but it could be computer related. There are lots of skills required to diagnose a car.
With new cars released all the time, what does training and continual training look like for workers in your industry?
At Craft, there is the initial onboarding period, say you know the basics but are limited. You’d have lots of one-on-one time with a senior mechanic. We’d do that for around two weeks and after that, things get rolling with the manufacturer training. There are lots of virtual and in-person training at no cost to the employee. Everything is continual and if you complete 60-80 hours with the manufacturer, you can get certified through them. Our company also covers travel and training costs if an employee has to travel to get more training.
There is always going to be a need for skilled labor. Vehicles have become more of a tool of survival than a luxury, so almost everyone has one or has access to one. If it’s man-made, it’s destined to break. The skills you learn from each manufacturer can take you anywhere. And right now, the compensation for the work has greatly changed over the last ten or so years. We’re seeing a higher pay in this skilled, technical labor compared to folks graduating with bachelor’s degrees.
Craft Hyundai is a supporter of Virginia’s Community Colleges through the G3 Business Ambassador program. If you think you’re a fit for a role at Craft, visit its website to learn more.