Shop owners in Colorado are interested in the transition to electric vehicles
January 2022 was important for EV.THRIVE as it marked the company’s participation at an in-person event for the first time. This was the Automotive Service Association (ASA) Colorado Summit, a two-day conference and exposition organized by the Colorado board and hosted by Lincoln College of Technology (Lincoln Tech) in Denver, Colorado. We had a booth and designed a class on “Embracing the Transition to Electric Vehicles” targeted to the Colorado audience.
The first day was organized as a leadership forum centered on important challenges the independent repair industry faces today. As expected after two years of global health and supply chain crisis, the topics were near‑term. The invited speakers discussed redefining success as an entrepreneur, leading during a crisis, and the definition shop culture. The day included structured breakout sessions which allowed shop owners to network and to share experiences and best practices. Nathan Bryant, our co-founder, participated in a panel discussion on the future of the industry, moderated by an ASA national representative. The panelists shared their views on the future of the industries through the lenses of education, marketing, and how social media impacts both. The second day was a training day, with technical and management classes, and time in-between for the attendees to visit sponsors’ booths. EV.THRIVE’s ninety-minute course was presented by Nathan twice, during morning and afternoon sessions, in front of forty attendees. The key message of the EV.THRIVE class was that automobile manufactures have begun the transition from internal combustion engine vehicles to electric vehicles (EVs) and, as the sales of EVs increase, so are the service needs and the opportunities. The class started with an overview of market conditions, options for navigating the change to EVs, and how to communicate with EV-curious customers today. Nathan went deeper into new opportunities for service and maintenance, highlighting equipment needed to service these vehicles safely, and providing guidance on where to find service information. The class also included an outline of important non‑technical aspects to consider when building personalized timelines for transitioning to EVs.
We are grateful for the positive feedback and already look forward to tailoring the class to other ASA chapters planning events this year.
Here are our main take aways from the Colorado summit.
1. Attracting talent to the automotive repair industry remains a challenge. Attracting and developing talented individuals who can become tomorrow’s problem solvers remains challenging and and there has been no considerable progress in the recent years. The automotive repair industry lacks glamor and recognition and is still perceived as a dirty industry where students not excelling in math and science might find a good place to earn a living by working long hours, evenings, and weekends. There is important competition from other industries, such as construction, energy management and IT.
- Education experts recommend starting to talk to students as early as sixth grade. During a panel discussion, the topic of getting young students interested in the repair industry surfaced multiple times, along with the fact that repairs are becoming increasingly “clean”, interesting, and technically demanding, far away from the ratchet and wrench approaches and the clichés too often surrounding the industry. Asked when children should be introduced to automotive technology, Dr. Kelly Moore, Campus President at Lincoln Tech, responded without hesitation: “Sixth grade!”. Reaching the parents was another big point raised.
- The industry needs to attract more women. By not highlighting the new, clean, and interesting aspects of the automotive repair industry and the exciting, measurable, and rewarding results, the industry is keeping away a significant percentage of the incoming workforce, as much as 50%. This is talent which can help shops better succeed now and as the shift to electric vehicles happens. Women are already amazing service writers, accomplished technicians, and innovators - one of the leading new shop management software companies, also present at the summit, Shop-ware (San Francisco, CA), is founded and lead by a woman.
2. Shop owners in Colorado are interested in the transition to electric vehicles. Feedback from attendees to the EV.THRIVE class was clear. Shop owners from metropolitan areas and small towns alike (think Denver and Bolder along with Canyon City and Durango) were extremely interested in learning about safety training required, the importance of selecting the right charging stations aligned with the shops’ location, needs and customers. Those visiting our booth were excited and ready to embrace the change.
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