Nearly two years ago, Charlie Gilchrist, then president of the National Automobile Dealers Association, warned that the biggest threat facing the industry was a shortage of qualified body shop technicians.
Even before Gilchrist sounded the alarm bells, Barton Ford in Suffolk, Va., was doing something about it.
The dealership has been teaming up with nearby schools to create a local talent pipeline that it's using to keep its service department humming.
Barton Ford set up a paid internship program with the College and Career Academy at Pruden, a technical school about 4 miles away, and has hired at least six students from the school over the past three years. This month, the dealership partnered with Ford to donate a 2015 F-150 Platinum to the school so students would have a modern vehicle to practice repairs on during class.