As an auto instructor with over 14 years of experience, Matt Kerhin, Tech Ed Teacher at Hartford Union High School, has a lot of insight into the automotive industry.

We were honored to sit down with Matt to talk about his auto program, the trends he sees in the automotive industry, and how the connections he has made on WrenchWay have helped improve the auto program at Hartford Union High School.

About Hartford Union High School

Hartford Union High School, located in Hartford, Wisconsin, is a growing school with dedicated faculty and staff serving 1,300 students and their families. Among the faculty are Matt Kerhin and Eric Garretson, who teach the school’s automotive program. Matt and Eric cover three levels in their program: auto maintenance, auto service, and auto technician. They average about four classes a day with 75-100 students per term. To say they are busy is an understatement.

Recently, the need to connect with local industry, update their equipment, and get support for their growing program, was stronger than ever. So, Hartford Union High School partnered with WrenchWay to use the free School Assist tool to help.

WrenchWay: Connecting Schools with Local Shops

Hartford Union High School Receives Vehicle & Equipment Donations from Local Shops Through WrenchWay

Similar to many high school auto programs, Hartford Union High School has struggled to acquire updated equipment and tools to teach its students effectively. Outdated shop equipment makes it challenging for them to attract more students and provide real-life scenarios that students will encounter in their potential careers as technicians.

“Having technology that’s conducive to the vehicles that we’re working on has really become important, especially as we have these students working and going to competitions. Students are finding that what we’re using [in class] is not what they’re seeing. This is why we have been honored to have some updated equipment donated recently.”

Matt Kerhin, Tech Ed Teacher at Hartford Union High School

WrenchWay helps bridge the gap between the industry and schools, enhancing technician training programs. On School Assist, schools can post requests for tools, equipment, speakers, job shadow opportunities, and other resources needed for their auto/diesel program. Shops can view these requests, message the instructor, and fulfill requests directly on WrenchWay.

With small budgets, having industry support is essential—which is what brought Matt to WrenchWay. Matt was able to post his program’s needs on WrenchWay so local shops could know exactly what their auto program needed. Just this school year, their program received a newer car, updated tools, and textbooks from local shops and dealers!

Here is how those donations unfolded:

Car Donation

Just before the 2023-24 school year kicked off, Uptown Dodge Jeep Ram responded to the WrenchWay School Assist request posted by Hartford Union High School regarding the need of a newer used car. Working together to communicate the school’s needs and what the shop could offer, Uptown was proud to donate a 2013 Ford Explorer to the Hartford auto program.

high school auto program around car donated

Tool Donations

A few months after posting a School Assist request on WrenchWay, Joe’s Slinger Service LLC responded to the school regarding acquiring updated tools for their school’s shop. Joe, an alumnus of Hartford Union High School, offered an extra parts washer and strut spring compressor he had around the shop.

Matt, auto instructor, with equipment donated from local shop

Textbook Donations

Russ Darrow Automotive Group responded to the school’s request and was able to donate auto textbooks needed to align with the WATDA (Wisconsin Automobile & Truck Dealers Association) state automotive curriculum. This also included an online component to help the instructors update online resources for students as well.

high school auto class with textbooks that were donated with the help of a local shop

Building New (& Re-Engaging Old) Relationships with Local Industry

One challenge instructors often experience is they have an existing contact at a shop, but then that contact leaves and that relationship with the shop is gone.

A major benefit of WrenchWay for Matt is not only has he been able to build new relationships with local shops and dealerships on WrenchWay, but he’s also re-engaged with new connections at shops he’s worked with in the past.

“My original contact, a service manager, had actually left and went to another dealer. So it wasn’t until the new contact reached out on WrenchWay that the connection was re-established..”

Matt Kerhin, Tech Ed Teacher at Hartford Union High School

Partnering to Grow the Automotive Industry

Matt’s contagious passion for growing the automotive industry is truly inspiring. We see instructors deal with daily challenges like enrollment, funding, and more every day. Through partnerships with schools, such as Hartford Union High School, WrenchWay remains committed to its mission of promoting and improving technician careers… And helping schools is a big part of that mission!

“I think if we can get a positive perception out there, through WrenchWay to the younger kids so they can understand what that job is really about, that’s going to be a big benefit.“

Matt Kerhin, Tech Ed Teacher at Hartford Union High School

If you are interested in seeing what donations and connections your school can receive with the help of WrenchWay, create a free WrenchWay School account, or contact us for more information.