Former General Motors Chairman Jack Smith had a vision in 1995 of automakers, dealers and schools cooperating in an industrywide initiative to encourage and groom high school students for careers as auto service technicians.
That vision grew into Automotive Youth Educational Systems, a nonprofit organization in Troy, Mich., that trains technicians for careers in automotive repair.
Though U.S. dealerships employ 265,000 technicians, they could use more. Dealerships need 35,000 new technicians annually through 2010 to fill jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Don Gray was national service manager for Chevrolet when Smith asked him to develop and launch Automotive Youth Educational Systems. But Gray, 60, is retiring and turns over the presidency to Larry Cummings, owner of Larry Cummings Oldsmobile-GMC in Crawfordsville, Ind., for 22 years. Staff Reporter Ralph Kisiel spoke with Gray about his tenure and the future of this initiative.