2018 World Class Technicians: Michael Aubrey
As part of a weekly series, Ratchet+Wrench will take a look at 2018’s World Class Technician recipients, including a brief bio of their career, and their thoughts on the industry. Our second feature is on Michael Aubrey, shop manager at Spartan Automotive.
There are an estimated 879,000 technicians in the United States, with more than 300,000 of them holding ASE certification. Nearly 2,000 technicians have earned the status of “World Class Technician” since its inception over 30 years ago.
To earn World Class status, a technician must achieve certification in 22 specialty areas during the 2017 certification test administered by ASE.
What drew you to the automotive industry? What made you passionate about it?
Basically started as a kid, working on my friends bicycles, ripping apart my dad’s lawnmower, basically whatever I could get my hands on. I was always really interested in cars… I decided to go a different route, and join the air force so I could work on airplanes, and I spent four years doing that. Worked at Edwards Air Force Base working on test aircrafts and fighter aircrafts, things like that.
In 2002, 2003, I got back into standard auto repair. It was more stable, easier to make money, actually more consistent. First shop I worked at, I actually knew through racing, and it was the first place I really got into diagnostics, standard automotive repair, and becoming ASE certified.
I grew up in West Springfield. So when I joined the air force, I wound up out in California, spent 20 or so years out there. I went back to West Springfield, and through a friend of a friend, went to Spartan to apply for a job. That’s really the only shop I’ve worked at. They’re such good guys to work for, I didn’t feel I needed to go anywhere else.
How and why did you earn your World Class certification with ASE?
It was a challenge from my boss. He showed me an article from a tire magazine, from these two guys who were world class technicians. He said, ‘why don’t you do this?’ At the time I was already an automotive master tech, and through that challenge I decided to do it.
What’s your favorite part about working in the repair industry?
Really why I do cars instead of anything else… It’s just something I’ve always been passionate about. as far back as I can remember. My grandfather had cool cars, and I just liked cars. To be able to work on cars every day, it’s a challenge. The modern technology can be really challenging and really annoying, but it’s fun to be challenged and try harder and be able to keep up with it.
What are your thoughts on the technician shortage currently facing the industry? What are some ways shops can get people more like yourself involved and passionate about auto repair?
From the shop level it’s really hard… But you look at some of the people like Mike Rowe trying to really push that you don’t need a four year degree to make a living. You can do things with your hands that are fun, challenging and rewarding. For us, it’s really a matter of trying to get young people in and showing them that. It’s not like you can make hundreds of dollars fixing cars, but you can make a good, comfortable living, and provide for your family and have a good job. Being in the industry as a mechanic, I’ve been in unemployment for just two weeks since October of 1986. Because of the shortage of qualified technicians, you’ll never be out of work.