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New to the team but not new to the business (VIDEO)

by | Mar 12, 2024

Greetings, Shop Press readers!

I joined the Dorman team earlier this year and you may have already noticed a few posts with my name on them. Maybe you’re even asking yourself “What makes this guy qualified to offer an opinion or try to tell me how to work on cars?” And rightfully so! There are way too many self-proclaimed experts on the Internet offering their opinions on everything automotive.

So read on and decide for yourself whether I’m a source you can trust or not.

My main role here is as a trainer with the Dorman Training Center. The instructors on our team are among the best in the automotive aftermarket and we travel the country training professionals in everything from air conditioning to hybrid/EV technologies. I write the occasional technical piece for Shop Press and review some of the content posted for technical accuracy.

Prior to joining Dorman, I was the technical editor for our nation’s oldest automotive trade publication, Motor Age. I spent 12 years in that role with a focus on producing a quality print publication with lots of technical features on the latest OEM technologies along with a solid helping of how-to content, all aimed at helping the professional technician. One thing I learned early on as a writer/trainer was that I had better be sure that the information I was providing was the most current and most accurate information available. Believe me, our readers did a great job keeping us honest!

It wasn’t long before I also understood the importance of digital content. I started the magazine’s YouTube channel and social media pages, a first for the industry. The channel has well over 600 videos now and pushed past the 100,000-subscriber mark just before I left. We also were the first to offer “live” webinar training that was held in a real shop and demonstrated on real cars, with real technicians demonstrating the latest troubleshooting and repair techniques.

Why be so obsessed with training? The vehicles being built today are among the most complex marvels of engineering that ever came off a manufacturer’s assembly line. Today, the difference between fixing the car right and fixing it wrong is a fine line that is easy to cross. It takes training and accurate information to be successful, and often takes an investment in special tooling to perform.

And I hate to say this (being an older guy myself) but the older you are and the more experience you have, the more of a handicap you are facing because you are so used to doing certain services the way you always have. With the addition of systems like Advanced Driver Assistance Systems and others, even the routine repairs cannot be performed the same as they once were.

The message I deliver to professionals all around the country is borrowed from the book, Future Shock by Alvin Toffler, “The illiterates of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write, they will be those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”

But I’m getting a bit off track. I’m not here to preach (yet) but to provide you with my qualifications.

See all that tire mounting compound? Getting sloppy here also helps when trying to index the valve stem; a slippery tire can just be held while the table spins to the correct spot.

Photo: Mike Apice.

I spent most of the 35 years before Motor Age with a wrench in my hand. My first job was as a service station attendant while I was still in high school at the age of 15. Yep, I was the “man with the star – the big, bright Texaco star!” I’m betting very few of you remember those days but back then, it was the local service station/garage that took care of the family car, and it was there I began to learn my trade.

My next major shift was a few years later, after I had graduated high school. I was attending Virginia Commonwealth University and being a city campus, parking was often a challenge. So, I bought a motorcycle to ride to school and it didn’t take long for this means of transportation to capture my enthusiasm. I traveled south from my home in Virginia to Daytona Beach, Florida to attend the American Motorcycle Institute, a private trade school that specialized in teaching motorcycle mechanics.

I returned home, worked as a motorcycle mechanic, and spent the next few years working for local Honda and Kawasaki dealerships. The opportunity to move to Florida and work at a Honda dealer just north of Orlando came up and I wasted no time making the move to the Sunshine State.

Wanting to grow in my chosen field, I took a job teaching at the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in Orlando, where I earned teaching credentials and certification from the National Association of Trade and Technical Schools. I fell in love with teaching and took a great deal of pleasure in seeing the lights come on when a student was having a tough time grasping a lesson or solving a hands-on challenge.

But unfortunately, it was hard to support a family on a private trade school instructor’s pay. After trying a few career paths more in the white collar world, I realized that my most marketable ability came in being able to fix things that, in many instances, others couldn’t fix, and I made the move back to cars/light trucks at the dawn of OBD II (mid-1990s) and have been there, for the most part, ever since.

Along the way, I earned my ASE Master Certifications and numerous OEM training certifications. I’ve had the opportunity to work on nearly everything that runs on gasoline, from lawn mowers to aircraft, learning a little more from each experience.

I’ve worked for dealerships, the big chains, and small independents, so I’m very familiar with the challenges each brings to the working men and women of the automotive aftermarket. It is helping the professional technician keep up with the challenges the ever-changing technologies the OEMs are throwing at them that kept me motivated as an instructor, writer, YouTuber, and editor. I am constantly asking myself, “What can I do that will help these men and women earn a better living than they are earning today?”

The move to Dorman and the connection with the Shop Press team gives me a platform and opportunity to do even more for the professional automotive technician; that is, provide you with the latest, most accurate, up-to-date technical and repair information possible so you can face the challenges today’s cars pose with confidence. And I encourage you to visit the Training Center, at, and tell us how we can help you fix it right the first time!

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