NEW Electrical Training Center In Wendover Nevada
For the last few years I have wanted to find a way to train technicians. Although I am a big believer in ATG, CTI, WTI and NAPA training, I want to create an experience as well as classroom learning. Something like Craig at AC/DC does. Last week I was setting up a tool in the bordertown of Wendover UT/NV. It is on I-80 in the high desert. This town is a few miles from the Bonneville Salt Flats where many land speed records have been set. If you like wide open spaces, this area has lots of recreation opportunities from year round scuba diving to exploring mountains and old ghost towns. It is two hours from Salt Lake City and 6 hours from the California border. Due to the presence of several casinos, there are flights into the local airport from all over the West and Midwest. So one could fly directly to Wendover or Take the Casino bus from the Salt Lake Airport. You could also drive. No traffic in Wendover. There are also plenty of roads where you can "open her up", I mean to the posted 70 or 80 mph of course.
The opportunity is that there are some historic boarded up buildings there that could be used for classrooms and sleeping quarters. I have not found shop space yet but I have a lead on hangar space at the airport. In talking to the airport, it seems that they like the idea of repairing the boarded up buildings to preserve the history.
The type of training I would like to focus on is Electrical, Networks, Security, ADAS, Programming, ECU cloning (Using Second Hand Parts) and performance tuning. From attending classes for years, I have determined that many techs do not want to admit that they do not understand electricity. I see those who silently sit in their seat get their certificate and leave. I want to train technicians on both a high level, basic level and everywhere in between. If one wants to learn, the opportunity will be there.
I am not sure how long to make the sessions. I am thinking three days. That should give some serious time for learning without taking too much time from work. Since the folks on this network are the best of the best, I wanted to see what your suggestions and thoughts are. Maybe some would even like to participate in the project. I have a tremendous amount of work to do in gathering funds and securing the property. I will need trainers, teachers and support staff.
As a recently retired Post Secondary instructor, I'm not ready to sit around and do nothing yet. I'm VERY interested in talking to you on this subject.
I think your on to something Mike.....Boot camp lead by the best drill Sargent's in our profession......Let's talk some more....Soon.
It's a great idea Michael and one that makes absolute sense to many of us who know what type of training is needed. However, can you attract those who really need the training in sufficient numbers? How would you plan to reach out to them and develop a loyal customer base? I am a realistic with a positive attitude that sometimes faces challenges that can unfortunately make the possible, impossible. Many of us do or have shared similar dreams and desires, but the "mechanics" of bringing a concept to fruition can be a daunting challenge to accept. So, let's consider just a few of the readily "visible" thoughts.
Creating a physical venue that will attract the throngs needed to make work, is not all that difficult. However, those who readily express interest with a positive attitude and willingness to attend, are the usual crowd that we see at various training events and participating actively in various website forums or groups. Beyond these stalwarts, the biggest challenge faced is attracting technicians and in part shop owners who really need and can benefit from the training.
It seems that "coffee and donut" seminars that technicians mostly attend on their own time, is what the majority of independent repair facilities view as training. Daytime training even locally puts a cramp on small shop production, where there is no investment budget to accommodate attending training events. Asking or expecting (more like hoping) many businesses to send technicians away and pay travel costs, hotels, wages and food, can be like pulling teeth for the masses.
Also, post a course as "Basic Electrical Diagnosis" and few will come, because the mentality is that all are above the basics. Change it to "Advanced Electrical Diagnosis" and there will be more interest generated. Never yet have I encountered any electrons that were more advanced than others, yet marketing terms can have a great effect on enrolment.
Also, consider how effective training will be with large and small class sizes and the number of seats that need to be filled to make it work. I train in both a manufacturer sponsored apprenticeship program and product service training, where some course content is identical and some is unique to each program. In the apprenticeship program, our maximum head count is 16 students and the training materials and components generally support that number of students which is the maximum that our institute and union consider to be a safe student to instructor ratio. In PST, the normal class size is six students and the courses include station-based certification activities on the second or third day, depending on the length of the course.
Each factory training course has a viable lifetime, before it has to be replaced. Some courses are only good for a year or two at a stretch, such as infotainment certification that I'm currently delivering. We had two previous courses circa …, that quickly became obsolete and were replaced by infotainment 1 and 2 that are currently offered. We can expect these courses on 2018 and 2019 vehicles to have a limited life time. The costs of developing instructor-led training courses tends to be higher than tweaking online courses to keep pace with technology advancement.
So, viability of the project will depend on an in-depth needs assessment and whether there is commitment or buy-in. If not, you could go broke before you get started. Years ago, two of us were doing ACDelco training during the daytime from the training centre and mobile at locations around the province. Most courses were two days maximum. When our institute chose to not renew the contract, we had a good following and our thoughts of setting up a small training facility in a boarded up local gas station with large shop facility were met with a hard dose of common sense and reality after doing some research. To attract enough bodies for courses to keep even one of us busy full-time was prohibited by overheads. We soon abandoned the idea, despite its merits. Dreams of what is possible, when it meets reality can be dashed.
There are reasons for and against adding a third day, which would be the maximum for student interest level and that also allows a shop to be without a productive technician.
We also regularly participate in Virtual Classroom Training courses that are broadcast live in two or three one hour segments. Some of the three day courses could be more efficiently delivered in two days, but the dealerships do not want their technicians away from the shop for any more than one hour a day.
This is why most often, the "traveling road show" such as the Mike Clearys (Hi Mike, its been a while) and other reputable trainers seek out locations, either shops large enough to accommodate enough bodies to make the training worthwhile, or local colleges willing to provide room in exchange for a seat or two. Even the latter can pose a challenge, given safety requirements, liability insurance etc.
To attract enough candidates for courses, it will take a focused marketing effort. Again, you will find historically that the same technicians and shop owners go to training, but those who do are a relative minority compared to those who really could benefit from training. This will be the biggest challenge that you face, making enough to pay the overheads, staff, instructors etc.
My son-in-law Shane is a cross fit trainer who worked in his Dad's facility where therapy and fitness are the focus on the main floor and cross fit was in the basement. He and our daughter, along with his brother and wife have just opened their own multi-faceted facility. This has been a huge undertaking over several months, along with several millions of dollars from investors. The location is one floor of a building that is at the base of a disused grain elevator. Permits, contractors and costs to accomplish this development was a huge and clearly expensive undertaking. To make this a viable proposition, not only were investors involved, but various long and short term membership and use commitments were made by a very supportive customer base.
Such a venture simply was not possible as a "family business" only concept in this day and age. Bringing everything to code was another expensive requirement. So, while at first thought, revitalizing an old facility with a "fresh coat of paint" approach, might turn out to be more expensive than first considered.
Developing courses also must be planned on real needs and a ROI, rather than creating a topic that we personally like or have a desire to instruct. There must be sufficient needs for any course that we might develop, to justify creation. We also need to get good "mileage" from every course that is developed, just to offset costs, training aids and vehicles. Pretty much nothing that is developed course-wise lasts forever, except basic electrical. Building a course for one specific model or system will initially net a number of enthusiastic takers, but it will always have a very limited lifetime. Just ask Mike. He is constantly refining his content to keep it fresh and in pace with technology, to be able to attract some dedicated attendees in the locations he visits. It is always a work in progress. Vince Fischelli is probably one of the true Masters of electrical training with a solid model.
Michael, I wish you the best with your concept idea for this training location opportunity and look forward to seeing what unfolds going forwards.
Thank you for your assessment.
Here are a few things I want to do to lower cost.
The old Army base that the buildings are located on are falling apart. I am hoping that the historical society / county would work with us to provide the facilities at low or no cost. By repairing the buildings and preserving them, it provides multiple solutions for both us and the county. Too early to know.
Crowdfunding seems to be a good way to finance most of the project. I see people asking for money for all sorts of projects from personal to commercial. Money is being donated for food trucks, saving dairy farms, down payments and so forth. The taco truck guy has $14, 765 of the $20,000 to hit goal.
State funding is available for both Utah and Nevada. With facilities on both sides of the border, funding could be gathered from both states. Still working on how to get it.
What is the hook?
Learning is the main focus, but why make the investment? We have our stated reason for wanting to train and our real reason.
It seems that many like to gamble and drink after a long day of training. On the Nevada side there is plenty of both. The venues are easy to reach, plenty of parking and not overcrowded.
During speed week, lots to see at the salt flats. Some may want to get in the 150mph or 200mph club. Could meet some famous racers.
The base was the site of the Manhattan project. There are some museums devoted to the history of WWII.
A good break from the city. 10 to 20 minutes out of town and you can have solitude.
Blue Lake. A 60 foot deep warm lake is just minutes away. Used by scuba divers all year.
Watch bombing practice by the Air Force. Quite a show at night.
Making connections with like minded technicians that love to diagnose.
Fond memories that will help the training facility sell itself. An experience you want to have again and again.
Right now it is just a dream. Local training in Salt Lake is hard to fill. I get it. Getting folks to spend even more money to travel 2 hours out of town or across the country seems crazy. I guess I am a crazy as I traveled to SEMA/AAPEX to meet with a few select people. It was productive for me. I also travel to KC for Vision every year. It just feels good to meet with others with a common goal. A common hunger for knowledge. A desire to understand the why behind the issues we face. There have to be more critical thinkers out there. More than just what we see at the common events. On a regular basis I meet great technicians that have never heard of Vision. How to reach them all? I don't know. Word of Mouth seems to be the best way.
Hi Michael. I sincerely hope that you can pull it off.
I've always been an advocate for the underdog who was willing to work hard to make their dream a reality. It sounds like an interesting opportunity for you to follow a dream, or at least a desire.
When dreams are followed by passion and likewise people who have the same...........it all comes to a reality.
Charles R …. AAM, CMAT L-1
Hi Michael. Please keep me in the loop. I would love to see something like this fly, and help out if I could.
These are some great ideas. I’ve been a tech for 50 years and know you never let up on gaining technical education because this trade does not slow down on advancement.
I race at Bonneville and last speed week went into the Napa store at east end of Wendover to buy some parts to get us through tech so we could race. I met the owner of the store. He is the mayor of east Wendover and a definite motor head. He has lived there and grown up there You May find him very helpful He did tell me he is going to retire and move south but I think he’ll have a hard time convincing him self.
I went into the store last week and Mayor Mike was out of town until the 22nd. I did send him an email with my ideas. He has not responded. Great to hear you race out there. One year I went out to race and found that my vehicle did not pass inspection. Anyone going out there should get a copy of the rule book so they know what they are getting into. It was fun to watch others go for it. I saw an 18 Wheeler almost make it to the freeway after hitting the safety net. Such fun!
Yesterday, I had a discussion with a very successful shop owner. I explained my idea for a training center. After some discussion, he said " I have a shop downstairs and a classroom up here. Why couldn't we do training here in the evenings?" He has a good point. We can't all start at the top. Getting started this way would give me a customer base. It will not cost a huge amount to start. It can be implemented immediately. Part of the income from the training can be added to the gofundme I have started. When the time comes, I can pull the trigger on a full blown training center.
The change to the program is that there will be classes for both newbies and seasoned technicians on different days. The newbie classes will start at the very base level. Oil changes, fluid changes, a/c service, rotations. After these skills are mastered, on to tire repair, TPMS systems, tire balancing, alignments, suspension. Classes will be limited to 15 students. There will be three instructors at each session. The seasoned techs will learn labscope usage, scan tool usage, electrical diagnostics, security systems, automotive computer networks, reflashing and reprogramming.
More to come....