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You are not supposed to get to the finish line in pristine condition. You are supposed to cross the line a burnt out, beat up hulk, and through the smoke and leakage, yell, “WHAT A RIDE!”

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Up To Standards

  • Author: Mike Weinberg
  • Subject Matter: What a ride!
  • Issue: Technician shortage

You are not supposed to get to the finish line in pristine condition. You are supposed to cross the line a burnt out, beat up hulk, and through the smoke and leakage, yell, “WHAT A RIDE!”

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Being this issue starts the new year, I have decided to give you the benefit or pain of my acquired knowledge and outlook on life for a couple of pages. The first issue to look at is the surplus of college “educated” people, versus the complete shortage and lack of skilled trades workers. Since the ’60s we have had parents across the country convincing their children that if they didn’t go to college, their lives would end in shame and poverty. Obviously a quality college education ending in a degree that is useful in pursuit of a career would be a positive outcome. What actually happens is that the “social pressure” to attend a college without the careful planning of what degree one should achieve is a waste of time and money. You have hundreds of thousands of young graduates out there who have degrees in political science, English literature or other socially acceptable or popular pastimes, graduates who cannot find work or pay off their loans. They will only get hired at entry level jobs in the fast food industry after investing years and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Now the flip side of that coin is the infuriating lack of respect and understanding liberal society has for the skilled trades. In 2014 a study determined that the auto industry would need to hire 25,000 new techs to provide a stable level of personnel for the next decade. Arrive now at 2016, and the same study says we will need 75,000 new technical hires to maintain personnel balance for the next 10 years in the industry. Why the increase in people necessary? People retire, die, change careers, etc., and no one is filling the background. This just covers the automobile sector, and if you figure out where the other skilled trades are, the problem is huge. Obviously, if you love what you do and can’t wait to get to work every day, you will never work a day in your life.

The skills required to be in any trade today have multiplied many times due to changing technology. The advances in operation and efficiency that we have in all of our machinery come at a price: Someone needs to be able to install and service them. The transmission business of my youth was real simple: two, three or four speeds, worry about linkage and vacuum, clutch clearances, and very simple control systems. From that simplicity of technology, we have now graduated into 10 speeds, or in some designs infinitely variable speeds with very complex computer control and complete involvement of all systems on the car. Electronics rule the day, with a helping of hydraulics on the side, and the guy who is good with an ohmmeter and a scope will never be out of work. Complex technology requires highly trained technicians, who are in scarce supply.

This tech shortage will not get better until we have some parity between society’s stupid disdain for those of us who work with our hands and the ivory tower educators’ smug belief that their classes actually mean something and make a difference. Four years, $150,00 investment (wrong course of studies) against the average auto tech, plumber, electrician, welder, carpenter, nurse, etc. Compare the first 10 years of earnings and job satisfaction, and who is better off?

Now we go to politics. Don’t worry, you will not be subjected to any political opinions here, you get much too much of that through the filthy mainstream media. A few observations need to be made. All of our politicians are the same, both sides of the aisle live in a different world than we do. They are a protected class who makes sure that they only work a few days a week, spending the rest in getting re-elected, to continue their “right” to get wealthy at our expense. They make rules and laws for us but exempt themselves from the same rules. They arrive newly elected with an average net worth and they all leave vastly wealthier than they came. They act immorally and illegally but never pay personally for their indiscretions. What happened to character, truth, honesty, morals and love of country? We are now governed by the most self-absorbed corrupt group of people in history who are aided by a mainstream media that is so out of touch with reality that they must be bought and paid for.

Think about it in simple terms: The Congress creates deficits with the president, which means all the citizens owe more money. They then run in the next election against the deficit they created, inspiring us to vote for them because they are now against their own creation. If you wish to see how this flows into other areas of society, you can look at Hollywood, the media and the sports world. Hollywood is now cleaning out all of the casting couches that have been there since day one. The oldest deal in the world: You want the job? What are going to do for me? It was never right, but it existed until now when people are beginning to notice. We have super problems with our NFL heroes. There is no reason not to protest what you see as an injustice.

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There is, however, a correct way to do it, which does not involve the national anthem or the flag of our nation. It is very strange to me that the flag and the anthem provide the opportunity for these athletes to make millions of dollars in complete safety, while men and women making $3,000 a month are fighting all over the world to ensure our way of life. They all come home under that flag, either walking, wounded or draped on their coffins, and that flag is presented to next of kin after the ceremony by an officer of equal or greater rank. This country is not perfect. It never will be, but there is no place on Earth that can offer more opportunity and benefit to its citizens. The NFL will go out of business over this. It is only a matter of time.

It seems that I have been writing this column forever. Eight decades worth of experience has taught me many things, the first of which is that you are only as good as the last thing you did for someone. I have watched this industry grow beyond all my expectations, into something spectacular. The technology is never ending and ever changing, for sure it is never going to be boring. I remember the early days at ATRA when a group of like-minded men sat down and created a simple trade association for mutual benefit of solving industrywide problems. That progressed into its present form through the hard work and vision of many people all of whom love our industry.

I remember sitting down with Les Langsford and speaking about his goal of creating this publication, which grew very well and still prints my story. I can’t name names because there are thousands of them, I will miss some, and be worse off for it. It has been my pleasure to work with fantastic people in this industry, all of which gave me their time, knowledge, friendship, and an education. Every meeting you have will expose you to lots of talent, if you wish to be part of it. Engineers, technicians, fellow shop owners, all have much to offer your continuing education if you wish to latch onto it. I did hundreds of seminars around the world where people paid to be present regarding transmission repair, never once did I come back from a seminar without some great new information that people shared with me. The continuing education of your life is a daily experience that will never stop as long as you have the desire to learn. To me this is exciting stuff, and learning new things is a privilege in which you always come out the winner, a smarter person.

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A few weeks ago I was formally introduced to our health-care system and got my own primary-care physician. I never had one before, as I had never had the need. Most of my association with doctors came from damage acquired by racing, and they would put me back together and I would function again. I used the major league physicals you need every year to renew my various race licenses as my annual checkup. Now I have developed a shortness of breath deal. I felt like sometimes I was at 10,000 feet without oxygen. It would come and go, and I set about getting checked out. Long story short, I spent a week in the hospital and went home with five stents in me to open up some of my coronary arteries. God loves me, and I have been given a second chance to continue my education. It was pretty amazing technology, and I actually watched them insert the stents on a huge computer screen. I figured if I learned how to do it we could offer it to the public at reduced prices. It didn’t seem as complicated as a late model valve body.

I am not preaching here, I am relating that which has always made me feel good.

DO THE RIGHT THING.

If you wish to be truly happy you have to like yourself. This is not about ego, it is about believing that you are a quality person who is honorable, forthright, and a standup guy. Treat everyone fairly, it will come back to you. Try not to lie as you will never have a good enough memory not to get caught. Be courteous to everyone; respect they have to earn. I firmly believe that your word is your bond, and that the only thing that you have that counts in this world is your name. An old wise guy once told me in my youth, “Never cheat, and when you lose pay up” – words to live by. I wish all of you a prosperous and healthy new year. Continue your education, be a good citizen, be kind to your fellow man, believe me it comes back to you. Share some kindness with a stranger and watch it come back to you.

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