Boston Body Works: Introducing Students to the Real World
Patrick Cibotti, owner of Boston Body Works in Boston, has been there ... and done that.
That's why he wants to help vocational education students at Madison Park High School in that city - because Cibotti himself is a product of vocational education training. And, he's keenly aware of its value.
Lawrence teaches students the basics. And Cibotti helps prepare youngsters for the real world by letting them work in his shop. It affords the kids hands-on training, reinforcing what they learn in school, and an opportunity to be sure that's what they want to do as an adult.
It's a "win-win" situation for all involved. The students benefit from lessons learned at school and from the real-life training in Boston Body Works. Cibotti basks in the satisfaction of knowing he's "giving back" - helping youngsters just like himself years ago. And he benefits by gaining some great people who, after graduation from high school, become full-time employees.
Eight of his employees started out as students who took advantage of the co-op program.
Students who work in Boston Body Works get more than an opportunity for hands-on training. They also benefit from life lessons Cibotti imparts. For example, Cibotti tells them: "A lot of customers are shaken up after an accident and uncertain about the repair process; so I always say, 'Repair the customer first, then repair his or her car.'"
Cibotti also appreciates what it means to do a good job and instills this in the students he mentors in the co-op program. It's not all about skill, he tells them. "You can do the best job in the world, but if you don't treat the customer properly, the business will suffer. It's like spokes in a wheel," he tells them. "You have to have all the spokes on the wheel right." The spokes, he says, are the work on the car, the paperwork, how it's delivered, and how you talk to the customer.
The "spokes" analogy is just one of many of Cibotti's life lessons. Employee Cawin Dixon, who joined the shop after graduating from Madison Park 18 years ago, says that after all these years, he is picking up his boss' clichés. One of Cibotti's favorite quotes - one Dixon often recites himself - is, "What you give off is what you get back. We're like a mirror. If you give off bad tone and attitude, people give it back to you. The opposite holds true also."
Meantime, back at Madison Park High School, students get a double dose of good old work ethic and passion for their craft from Lawrence and his assistant, Richard Sauro.
Lawrence is in his 32nd year of teaching collision repair. He had worked in the collision repair industry before becoming a teacher. He teaches all of his students what he calls the "five Ds": discipline, dedication, determination, desire (to succeed) and diligence.
Sauro's experience includes working many years in collision repair, managing a shop and more than 20 years' experience as an insurance appraiser.
Both Lawrence and Sauro echo Cibotti's opinion that besides a good mind and good skills, students need to have a passion for their craft to succeed in the industry.
Cibotti and the vocational education teachers also see eye-to-eye on the value of vocational education, and stress the importance of environment.
The owner of Boston Body Works does everything he can to reinforce the program.
One thing he did recently was donate a replacement for the outdated "Auto Body Repair" sign outside the classroom. It now says, "Step into the Future through the Collision Repair Doors."
Editor's note: ASA strongly supports vocational education programs and is all for co-op programs. In fact, when ASA hosted its 2011 "Taking the Hill" day May 13 in Washington, D.C., members urged congressmen to support funding for vocational education programs. ASA encourages students to explore the many rewarding careers in the collision repair field.
Name of Shop: Boston Body Works
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