This article is part of an ongoing series to highlight and promote the technician career — demonstrating to kids, parents, and teachers how becoming a technician is a rewarding career path that can be lucrative and open the door to many opportunities within the industry. Are you a technician who would like to be spotlighted? Sign up!
Technician Spotlight: Towner A.
Name: Towner A.
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Job Title: Automotive Technician
Industry Experience: 14 years
How did you get started in the automotive industry?
In high school, I got really into Hondas and met some older guys down the street that had started a performance shop. I became very involved from then on and surrounded myself with it. I decided to pursue it as a career and go to college for it.
I went to Bellingham Technical College, in Bellingham, Washington. I run an automotive scholarship program there called “The BVTI Director Raymond S. Smith Scholarship.” This scholarship is in memory of my great grandfather, who was the director of Bellingham Vocational Technical Institute and taught an automotive class.
My first job was at a used car dealership, and I’m very thankful for my first experience. I had a few short attempts at dealerships, but I didn’t spend more than six months in a dealership. After achieving my ASE master and L1 certifications, I landed my dream job at Bellingham Automotive, and really took off there. The cost of living in my hometown became unrealistic, and even as a well paid, successful technician, my family of four was priced out. My wife and I began researching places, and we chose Grand Rapids, MI. I was fully aware I’d have to re-establish myself and start over. After six months, I came into contact with Ervine’s Automotive Repair and Grand Rapids Hybrid. After a few conversations, I fit right in, and this was the place!
What is your favorite part of being a technician?
I really like the feeling of productivity and satisfaction from a finished product. It is a constantly changing and evolving industry, allowing me to continue learning.
What’s the best advice you can give to someone looking to enter the industry?
Advocate for yourself, give everything a fair shot, and find work you truly enjoy because there is so much variety out there. You don’t have to be stuck at a shop or working on something that doesn’t work for you. Figure out what you like and what works for you.
What has being a technician taught you the most? / What skills has your career given you?
The importance of having a good team. Understanding whether or not you can wrench and crank out good hours — it won’t come to fruition without a solid team. Being a technician has increased my reading comprehension through reading repair procedures. It gave me a broad knowledge of mechanical and electrical systems, which I have been able to apply outside of cars.
What are some short-term and long-term career goals you have for yourself?
I recently passed my ASE L3 test, and I am actively increasing my hybrid and electrical knowledge at my current place of employment. On a more long-term note, I intend to submerge myself in as much hybrid and EV work as I can get my hands on.
What do you wish more people, especially high schools, knew about the profession?
You can make a good living and the stigma around being a mechanic is changing. People are willing to pay for quality technicians, and this is a career path you can take pride in. It is evolving into a much more advanced career choice, and it is being looked at differently.
What would you say to someone who is trying to decide if this is a good career?
You’re going to have to give it an honest five or more years to figure out if you’re having growing pains or truly don’t like it. The shop you work at will have a huge impact on your overall success and experience, so don’t settle. As technicians, it’s important to follow what we want to do, and the automotive path excites us the most! Now is an excellent time to become a technician. Stay confident, and advocate for yourself. Go where you’re celebrated, not tolerated.