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Meet Joe: One of the Many Veterans Working as Service Techs Across the Country

By Juliet Guerra, NADA Director of Media Relations

America’s new-car and -truck dealerships are a great place for military veterans to establish a long-lasting, rewarding career. For veterans and civilians, alike, experience in the automotive industry is not a prerequisite, including for service technicians who maintain and extend the life of vehicles.

NADA recently profiled a veteran and current service technician that came to his automotive career through Ford’s Automotive Student Service Educational Training (ASSET) program.

Joe Santee, a heavy line service technician at Penske Ford in La Mesa, Calif., is just one of the many technicians across the country that has found a fulfilling, well-paying career in a dealership.

Joe went through the Ford ASSET program with Cuyamaca College after serving in the U.S. Navy. The two-year program offered Joe a paid internship with valuable in-dealership experience, as well as his Associate’s Degree upon program completion.

“Once I found the ASSET program, I felt my military experience and enjoying working with my hands, meshed well into this industry,” said Joe. “[Through the program,] you get a taste of every part of the vehicle so you can understand the basics of diagnosing and fixing problems you are going to see with the vehicles.”

In November 2019, Ford Motor Company contributed $100,000 to the NADA Workforce Initiative, which aims to spark interest in careers at automotive and commercial-truck dealerships, with a special focus on service technicians. Ford’s donation proved the automaker’s commitment to ensuring the universe of dealership employees including service technicians remains full now and for years to come.

“Ford is acutely aware of the current automotive service technician shortage,” said Frederiek Toney, president, Global Ford Customer Service Division. “The NADA Foundation’s Workforce Initiative is just one program Ford is supporting to raise awareness of and access to training and job opportunities in this growing field.”

Ford is just one of the OEMs working to educate the next generation of the workforce on the benefits of a career in the automotive retail industry. Penske Ford shop foreman Vern Bowen said it best in the video featuring Joe: “Being a technician has evolved so much over the decades I have been in the business. It has become so much more technical, so much more involved and complicated. Our industry has evolved to where we really need smart, intelligent, intuitive, creative people to come into this business so that they can [maintain vehicles for the long run.]”

To learn more about NADA’s Workforce Initiative, click here; to learn more about Ford’s ASSET Program, click here.