Keep The ChangePosted 2/4/2008
By Joseph "Joe" Torchiana
Technology, information, fuels, business models ... no one in the automobile industry is immune from change. This holds true for the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) as well.
Today's vehicles generally need more service than repair. Oil changes, coolant service, transmission service, brake fluid flushing, and serpentine belt replacement need to be performed at regular intervals as we drive our vehicles to higher mileages. It is not uncommon for a vehicle that is only five years old to have upward of 80,000 miles on it and regular maintenance and inspection play a huge role in getting to the higher mileages trouble free. Economically, some managers have determined that it is not profitable to have an "A" tech perform these routine services. Hence the opportunity for a new type of technician, one who has some skills and may develop into an "A" tech or one who stays at the "service" level.
This is a "different breed" of technician and the need for these comes at a time when they are just entering the workplace. Most of us started out in service stations - working after school and on the weekends - pumping gas, changing oil, changing fan belts, servicing cooling systems and gradually moving up to brakes, tuneups, electrical diagnosis and repair. But those days are gone. Convenience stores replaced service bays and on-the-job training has been replaced by postsecondary tech schools. Teenagers ask Mom or Dad to borrow the car and the credit card for gas rather than build their own car in the driveway (like my generation used to do). For recreation they play X-Box and PS2 games, and wonder how the car gets them from point A to point B. This is not a bad set of circumstances because the auto industry has always had a place for almost anyone who wanted to work.
All of this change has an impact on ASE as well. In addition to responding to the industry needs, ASE finds itself on the edge of a new beginning. Jan. 4, 2008, saw the retirement of Ron Weiner as president and CEO of ASE. His 25 years of leadership are unparalleled in the automotive industry. Tim Zilke, a 17-year veteran of ASE and the former COO and CFO, was promoted to CEO and president and has charted a course to deal with the changes this industry faces. I was elected chairman of the board. The experience that I gained on the ASA Mechanical Division Operations Committee will be put to good use in these next months as we adjust our sails to follow a new course.
Like all of us, ASE is challenged by change. Part of my responsibility as chairman is to help the organization respond to a changing marketplace. From light duty diesels to hybrids, ASE staffers are continually working to ensure that the certification process upon which we have all come to depend will stay abreast of changing automotive technology. It is my honor and privilege to work with an outstanding group of individuals on the ASE board to help guide this change. So, as the automotive winds shift, ASE will continue to ensure that there is a standard of care employers can depend on, consumers can trust and the technician can rely on when setting his compass on the goal of achieving ASE certification.
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