By Chasidy Rae Sisk
Tools and uniforms and new floors – oh my! These are just some of the items that Enterprise teams around the country have helped provide to their local collision repair educational facilities, through their support of the Collision Repair Education Foundation.
“We’re committed to helping provide opportunities for the next generation of vehicle repair technicians to receive high-quality, hands-on repair training through access to the latest vehicle models and technologies,” said Mary Mahoney, Vice President, Replacement & Leisure Division at Enterprise Holdings.
“As the world’s largest car rental provider and an industry leader in mobility and technology, we have a huge stake in the health of the automotive repair industry,” Mahoney continued. “Through our support of the Collision Repair Education Foundation, we’re proud to support the students who are vital to the future of the collision repair and automotive insurance industries. We’re encouraging other industry leaders to join us in shaping the future of automotive repair.”
Upgrades in Chicago
Recently, the collision repair program at Thornton Fractional High School Center for Academics and Technology in Calumet City, IL received brand-new epoxied floors, an upgrade made possible by Enterprise. Thornton has also received a new paint booth and student uniforms through the Foundation’s facilitation of the industry’s generosity.
Jorge Navarrette, Collision Repair Instructor at Thornton, shared some thoughts on the impacts this support has had on his program and his students. “The flooring donation through CREF has impacted our program in a positive way – not only does it look more modern, but the new floor gives our shop a more professional appearance. Donations and networking through the Foundation have created opportunities for other improvements and updates that our school board has decided to fund for our program. For example, because we received the CREF flooring donation, the school board decided to also repaint the walls and update the lighting, which I had requested for years and don’t think would have happened without the flooring donation.”
“It may not seem like much, but for a program like mine, new flooring, a fresh coat of paint on the walls, and new lighting make for a totally transformed, professional learning environment,” Navarrette continued. “These investments improve students’ learning experience by not only feeling more professional and in touch with today’s industry standards, but tool and equipment donations help students learn with the same technology in the shops they will work in after graduation.”
Gary S. Jefferson, Enterprise Replacement Sales Director in Chicago, explained why he has been involved with CREF’s efforts for nearly two decades. “Supporting local collision repair programs is the right decision because all industry partners benefit in the long run. With a shortage of technicians in the automotive industry, we need to continue to educate students about the career opportunities that exist within dealerships and body shops. The programs offered through schools are the best way to attract talent and open doors for students with full-time positions. CREF’s activities and support are vital to the collision repair industry because they bring the industry together to support our future employees. I am pleased to see the investment Enterprise continues to make with CREF to help secure the future of the industry.”
Another member of the Chicago Group, Aimee B. Kam, Replacement Rental Sales Manager at Enterprise, explained why the industry needs to support collision training programs: “When I am out in the field talking to our business partners at both dealerships and body shops, their biggest challenge is the technician shortage. It’s so important for our industry to continue supporting the training and recruitment of both auto body and mechanical technicians.”
Navarrette agreed, “Without the Foundation’s continued support, programs like mine wouldn’t have the same opportunities and networking abilities available. The students, the industry’s future technicians, feel more supported/motivated to pursue careers in the collision repair industry. It’s so important that the collision repair industry supports CREF – that continued support helps collision programs continue to adequately educate and prepare the next generation of industry professionals.”
Supporting Two Schools in Southern California
In Southern California, an Enterprise donation to CREF was equally divided between two local schools: El Camino College in Torrance, CA, and Cerritos College in Norwalk, CA.
“The funds donated by Enterprise through CREF were used to purchase new hand tools, DA sanders, welding helmets and more for our collision repair program. We were able to replace much of our ‘tired’ inventory with new pieces, and everyone likes new equipment! Having the appropriate tools and equipment helps students’ motivation, retention and learning in the shop,” stated Anthony Chisum, Instructor of Automotive Technology at Cerritos College. “Each student now has the necessary tools and equipment needed to complete the required tasks for labs. There is something about holding new, quality equipment in your hand that helps to facilitate the learning environment; our students seem to get motivated by newer equipment because they can see that the industry is willing to invest in them.”
Mitchell Shenkin, Enterprise’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing in Southern California, noted, “The industry has struggled for many years to find new talent. Collision repair offers so many opportunities, but getting the word out is the challenge. A healthy stream of talented, enthusiastic, and well-trained employees for the collision industry is critical for all of our futures, and that’s why I got involved with CREF. The Foundation is an important partner for Enterprise because helping to support the collision industry is a top priority.”
Chisum agreed, “We all know our industry struggles to find the necessary human resources required to fill needed positions. Investing in local schools helps to fill that gap by gaining student interest in the CTE trades. One point of caution to collision shops: our industry has not kept up with similar industries in terms of starting wages, or for that matter, journeyman wages, which is a major factor in students’ decision making when they’re looking to get into a trade. It’s the 21st century, so students can easily research wages and see the disparity between body and mechanical wages. I know this is challenging, but to draw these students into this industry, you need to show them the ‘promised land,’ or they’ll pursue a different career path.”
These donations were granted to CREF at the request of employees by the Enterprise Holdings Foundation, which allows Enterprise employees of to give back to their local communities by requesting donations for nonprofit organizations in which they’re actively involved.
Industry members interested in getting involved and supporting the Collision Repair Education Foundation’s efforts to assist secondary and post-secondary collision repair training programs should contact Brandon Eckenrode, Director of Development, at 312-231-0258 or Brandon.Eckenrode@ed-foundation.org.
The Collision Repair Education Foundation, founded in 1991, is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting collision repair educational programs, schools, and students to create qualified, entry-level employees and connect them with an array of career opportunities. For information on how to donate to programs supported by the Education Foundation, visit us online at: www.CollisionEducationFoundation.org.
If you would like more information about this topic, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.