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Encouraging the Next Generation

By Lorenzo Pellicciotta

Car Repair, CARSTAR, Oakvile Car Repair, Oakville Collision

Lorenzo Pellicciotta

It was a rainy day in 1977, and my mother had come to my school for a parent-teacher interview.  The vice-principal, Mrs. Skuthe, was telling my mother how poorly I was doing in school.  “Big deal!” I huffed. “I don’t see how good grades will help me when I’m out of here!” She turned to me and asked what I wanted to be when I grew up.  “I’m going to be a mechanic, like my father,” I said, figuring that would put an end to the argument.  “All right,” she said. “That’s good.  But tell me, what kind of mechanic do you want to be?  Do you want to be the kind that works in a cold, dark, dingy garage, living in a small apartment, making enough money to buy a case of beer once in a while?  Or do you want to be the best mechanic out there, working in a big, clean shop, making enough money to live in a big house and own a couple of beautiful cars?”

I’d never really thought about that.  Her question really sunk in… and stuck with me over the next few years.  Suddenly it was important for me to do everything to the best of my ability.  I made it my mission to be the best I could be.  Along the way, I won many trophies and medals.  I graduated from high school with good grades in 1983, and I enrolled immediately in an apprenticeship program.

Three and a half years later, I was a licensed auto mechanic.  Over the years, I’ve worked at three different import dealerships.  In 1991, I won first place in a regional service technician competition.  Moving on to the nationals, I placed third in all of Canada.

Being on top of my game and wanting more, I eventually decided to start my own business.  In September 1995, I opened a 12,500-square-foot facility, doing both collision and mechanical repair.  In April 2003, I opened a second location: a 19,000-square-foot collision shop.  I now have 24 employees.

This industry has been very, very good to me.  It’s paid for my home, cars, motorcycles, holidays… and all the other comforts people aspire to.  Despite what some people say, I believe you can still make a very good living fixing cars.  That will never go away.  If a kid’s passion is to fix cars, then let’s encourage him or her to be the best they can be.  If they go for it the way I went for it, they will succeed.

It really bugs me when I hear a parent say there’s no way they’re going to let their kid become a mechanic.  They want to send their kid to university.  But I know a lot of kids who’ve gone through universitry and end up taking starter jobs for 30k a year.  They could have done so much better in the skilled trades, if that was their passion!

Parents need to stop saying discouraging their kids from becoming automotive technicians.  And we in the industry need to do more to welcome them into this wonderful trade.  If that’s where their passion lies, they’ll be a great addition to someone’s shop.  As long as there are cars, someone will have to repair and maintain them.  And if they’re smart and have a passion for it, they’ll make a very good living while they’re at it!

Lorenzo Pellicciotta is the owner of CARSTAR Oakville.

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