On Saturday, April 16, nine of New Jersey’s top collision repair students put their talents to the test in the state’s annual SkillsUSA competition. The contest, held this year at Somerset County Vocational and Technical High School, set the students to work on a variety of tasks associated with collision repair, including estimating, bumper repair, welding and adhesives. The contestants were scored on their final result, time management and finished product by a team of local industry experts.
Once again a fervent sponsor of the event, the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey (AASP/NJ) donated funds, as well as time, in order to make this event happen. Board members such as Collision Chairman Jerry McNee and Ted Rainer (who served as a judge for the welding sector of the competition) were in attendance to show their support for the future of the automotive repair industry.
“It’s great to see what the students are able to do coming out of school,” said Rainer. “With everything changing in the industry so quickly, there’s a lot of technicians out there that need to be trained on things like aluminum, some of these kids are coming out of school with that foundation already. Some of these kids are really talented. It says a lot about the level of instruction going on at these schools.”
This is a sentiment that was shared by New Jersey SkillsUSA Program Director, Pete Fryzel (I-CAR).
“In all of my tenure as an organizer for this event, I’ve never seen the level of skill that is here this year,” he explained. “Every year the kids get better and better, which really is a testament to the teachers who are bestowing this knowledge on their students. There’s a starvation of technicians in the industry, but it’s great to see that what is coming out of the schools these days is so valuable.”
It is for this exact reason that AASP/NJ contributes to this annual event.
“The young people are the future of the industry,” says AASP/NJ President Jeff McDowell. “Without trained people coming into the industry, we’re lost. A lot of repairers are aging out and approaching retirement. We need new, qualified technicians to take those places, which is why competitions and events like SkillsUSA are so important. The association is proud to be a part of it.”
New Jersey SkillsUSA organizers would like to thank this year’s judges: Anthony Thompson, Charity Ritter, Chuy Barrera, Edgar Chaves, Jr., Edward Winkens, Edward Mayer, Howard Feedman, Jerry McNee, Joe James, Malcolm Ginsburg, Michael Bonsanto and Ted Rainer. A big thanks as well to the sponsors of NJ SkillsUSA: Bridgewater Auto Body, Ultimate Collision, Tom Smetanka of Central Paint, AASP/NJ, Walter’s Auto Body, Bloomfield Auto Body, Main Auto Body, Ed Winkens of National Oak Distributors and Auto Body Distributing.
For more information on AASP/NJ, please visit www.aaspnj.org. For more information on the NORTHEAST® Automotive Services Show, please visit www.aaspnjnortheast.com.