The Next Generation of Shop Leader

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Andrew Marcotte is a third generation leader in the automotive industry. His grandfather ran a shop and his father is the owner of five American Pride Automotive shops in and around Williamsburg and Yorktown, Va. 

After graduating from Virginia Military Institute, he joined American Pride Automotive as its general manager in 2017, a job he’d been preparing for since he was a young tot “harassing technicians, hiding tools and playing on creepers” in the shop.

“When I was little I had a ton of respect for my father and everything that he was doing. By the time I was late into middle school, early into high school, I knew that coming back and becoming part of the family business and continuing what he had started had a special place in my heart,” he says.

Marcotte enters the automotive industry as the next generation of shop owner, bringing with him the perspectives of the youngest millennials and the oldest of Gen Z. Unlike preceding generations, he and his peers are digital natives, swimming in technology without fear.

Early adopters to changing times

Today's auto care industry, of course, has seen a lot of changes. For this generation, it’s a challenge they embrace, but for some older technicians, it’s another round of auto shop anxiety.

“We have some technicians who have been technicians for a long time that work for us. I remember hearing vivid stories about when we went into fuel injection versus carbureted engines and how that was going to be the end of automotive repair, because things became that much more efficient. Same thing when we went from drum brakes to disc brakes. Now we're on the verge of another transition—[electric vehicles], the cutting edge of vehicle technology,” says Marcotte.

Like many in his generation, he sees electric vehicles as an opportunity to learn how new technology works, how these vehicles will serve people, and how to service it. Transitioning into the EV market will be one all shops must learn to navigate.

“Obviously, the points of failure still exist. They're not going to fail the same way that internal combustion engines do. Maintenance will always be there. They'll still need tires, they'll still need fluid exchanges. It's going to be more remove and replace as far as motors and doing electrical repairs,” says Marcotte.

With the Biden administration discussing a $174 billion boost to EVs, and the big three auto manufacturers in Detroit intend to go to a 50% EV production by 2030, shop owners can’t bury their heads in the sand. Now is the time to train and these new, young technicians will invariably be the ones leading the way.

“I think a lot of shop owners are really intimidated by the move to EV. We know it's on the horizon especially as the manufacturers open up the right to repair information so that we have the necessary information to be able to go in there and do the necessary repairs. That being said, it's not something we can really run from. It's something that's coming, regardless of whether we're ready or not,” he says.“The best thing that we can do is invest in our people and our technology and our facilities to be able to handle these situations.”

This means American Pride sends its technicians to online training through CTI, a training program from Carquest. While some of the technicians have had to get used to learning hands-on concepts online, it’s one way American Pride keep employees trained as it searches for suitable programs for its techs to learn EV.

“It's really on us to remain vigilant in finding these opportunities and providing new ways of learning,” Marcotte says.

Even though the industry is experiencing a labor shortage, he believes now is still the time for youths and young adults to get into the auto care industry. The jobs are plentiful and the pay is there. And in the dawn of emerging automotive technologies, it will only get better.

“I think we all know that for a long time now, parents have been steering their kids away from the trades to more college educated roles. It's harder than ever now to find technicians, especially qualified guys who can go in there and do really high-quality work. Those who can command an extreme premium in the marketplace. We have guys who are making six figures being technicians and they're young with really good skill sets commanding a lot of money on the open marketplace”

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