Of the 100 or so NATEF-qualified secondary and post-secondary programs in Ohio, three outstanding programs are at Woodridge High School, through the Faber Foundation, Auburn Career Center, and the post-secondary Ohio Technical College.
In 2000, when collision-repair-shop owner Jack Faber died after 50 years leading Faber Body Shop, his wife Carla helped build The Faber Foundation to assist the young men and woman of the Cuyahoga Falls area.
Guys Klapp, who managed his shop while coaching basketball at Woodridge, first coordinated the renovation of the Fabers’ 12,000-foot shop, recalls Todd Jones, the one teacher at the foundation school. The building is five miles from Woodridge.
The Faber Foundation serves a compact among six districts: Woodridge, Cuyahoga Falls, Kent Roosevelt, Stow, Tallmadge, and Hudson. Woodridge provided Jones’ services, and the building was leased to Woodridge for a dollar a year.
“Guy put in classrooms, offices, conference rooms, locker rooms and showers,” says Jones, in his sixth year of teaching at the school. “In the shop, two down-draft paint booths were installed, a tool room fully equipped, a Chief EZ Liner, rack and lifts. In the air-compressor room, two Quincy compressors were installed and a state-of-the-art air drier for moisture.”
The students are bused or drive to the garage-become-school.
His juniors begin at 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., and his seniors continue from noon to 2:45 p.m. with an average of 13–15 students per class. “Our classroom time is usually 30 to 45 minutes long, then we go into the lab,” says Jones, who worked in the trade for 23 years both as a frame technician and paint specialist. He was taught by master tradesman Dave Nagy, who started Nagy’s Body and Frame in Doylestown, Ohio, in 1973.
“Juniors start out on panels, fenders, hoods, and doors learning the basics,” he explains. “After the first semester, they start working on cars.”
Both his juniors and seniors repair customer vehicles — about 150 to 170 per year. “It is all word-of-mouth advertising,” Jones says. “We do everything from bumper jobs to full-body sectioning. They turn out a quality product.” The program is NATEF certified in collision and paint refinishing.
One-third of Jones’ students go on to college, one-third enter a two-year tech school and one-third usually continue into the field. “After two years in the program, they are ready to enter into the workforce at entry-level positions,” he says.
“I really enjoy teaching someone a trade,” he says. “That is something no one can ever take away from you. I wish there were more trade schools offered to students in Ohio and in the United States. If you don’t go to college, you should get into a trade school. They are the future to our trade.”
Corey Lance, 20, a resident of Cuyahoga Falls, was a student at Faber for his junior and senior years. Following graduation, he worked at Hudson Collision for about seven months but left to find another job that focused doing body work on the older cars. Of the Faber Foundation program, he says, “I enjoyed every bit of my time there. “Mr. Jones taught me most of what I know today.”
Another former student and Cuyahoga Falls resident, John Brill, says, “Mr. Jones went over everything in great detail and worked with all of us to make sure we all understood what we were learning.” For three years, Brill has been working at a body shop in nearby Akron. “I could not have gone from sweeping the floors to doing everything, from spreading Bondo to painting, without the Faber Foundation.”
In Concord, the 46-year-old Auburn Career Center was the state’s first joint vocational school and is now servicing 11 area school districts with mechanical and collision repair programs. The latter is a two-year program, which started in 1974. The program is accredited with NATEF and has Nonstructural and Refinishing certifications.
Students spend a half day at Auburn. Classes average 16 to 20 students. They learn basic skills such as safety, M.I.G welding, solvent and water refinishing, restoration skills, minor collision repair, plastic repair, custom paint and entry-level employability skills.
The superintendent is Maggie Lynch, and the program has one instructor, Chuck Torre, who attended Auburn in 1977/78 in its Auto Body program.
“My instructor, Ed Stranke, was the biggest influence in my life,” says Torre, an ASE master technician in auto collision and an I-CAR instructor. “Ed is the reason why I became an auto-collision instructor.” He has taught for 27 years of his 35 years in the industry at Auburn.
Torre notes that students can earn I-CAR credits because the school has an alliance with the organization. They can also be certified in Career Safe from OSHA. Auburn students are also involved in SkillsUSA.
During the five decades of community service, many success stories have developed from the school. Frank Latin, a member off Torre’s first class, owns Frank’s Auto Body & Restoration in Madison. He has refinished many shows for cars and was featured in the Pittsburgh Plate Glass’ national magazine as well as The Automotive Refinisher and in Crusin’ Times Magazine.
Frank took the two-year auto body program at Auburn Career Center and graduated from the auto body program in 1988. He worked for various auto body and collision-repair shops and continued his studies to become ASE and PPG certified. In 1994 he started his business and in 2004 he was able to build his own facility instead of renting.
“It’s a great feeling when I visit shops in the area and I see my former students working and making a good living in the auto collision field,” Torre says. “I can visit shops from Cleveland to Ashtabula and see my students.”
Ohio Technical College, Cleveland, offers both Mechanical/Electrical and Collision Repair and Refinish programs. The latter is accredited by NATEF and I-CAR. OTC is also accredited by Career Colleges of America.
OTC is the last privately owned automotive tech school in the U.S., says Mary Kazmir, spokeswoman for the school. “The original family is the current owner, and Marc Brenner is the son of the founder, and two of his sons are working here at the school keeping the family traditions alive.”
OTC’s collision program was started in the mid ‘80s. OTC offers training in areas such as collision, custom paint, high-performance and racing, welding and classic car restoration. A separate campus for motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles, and personal watercraft training — the PowerSport Institute — is also available. The Edelbrock Performance Academy and the Jasper Training Center were added this year, and other programs are expected.
The collision repair program lasts 18 months and includes 12 weeks of custom paint and graphics. Students attend classes four days weekly, 7:30 a.m.–1:45 p.m. or 2:30 p.m.–8:45 p.m.
Friday attendance is optional, as students can work on their vehicles, with permission from their instructors.
“This is a merit-based privilege, so students with the better grades and attendance are the ones who benefit,” she explains.
Students can choose an associate’s degree of Applied Science in Collision if they desire the academic component with their technical training. The technical training is a clock-hour program, with 1,800 hours needed to graduate (in the 18-month programs). The academic classes are based on credit hours, and in many cases these can transfer over if a student wishes to move on for a bachelor’s degree.
OTC has 13 full-time collision instructors and 93 collision students, she explains. Every six weeks, a new class starts with 25 students or more. The large starts are July, August and October, accommodating the new high school graduates.
Military veterans and older students who need re-training to stay up to date in the industry are also students as are those who have lost jobs to factory closings and outsourcing who need a new career direction.
A student honor roll recognizes those who maintain 90 percent or higher on test scores and lab performance. OTC also sponsors SkillsUSA, FFA, Ford AAA and other programs, with $1 million-plus annually in scholarships to students who place in the top three at the state and national levels.
Tyce Carlson graduated from OTC in March 2012; he was featured on the yearbook cover because of this grades, attendance and overall attitude. After completing the auto body program at the WILCO Area Career Center in Romeoville, Ill., he chose OTC to continue his education.
“Our instructors were extremely helpful and went out of their way to help us anyway they could,” he says. “I can’t wait to go back to Illinois and begin working at something I love! I have not only gained knowledge in collision, refinishing, and custom paint but I have also gained confidence in myself knowing I can achieve anything on my own.”
Just recently, OTC had a collision graduate from its May 2012 class, Ricardo Grey, accepted into the BMW STEP for Collision and Paint, based in Woodcliff Lake, N.J. OTC has the BMW program on site for a select 30 students annually pursuing the manufacturer’s training.
An East Cleveland resident, Grey made three honor rolls at OTC. He was chosen by BMW to receive paid training at the BMW facility in New Jersey; only eight are picked nationally each year, Kazmir says.
If accepted, the students agree to work for BMW for at least two years after they graduate the program. “Ricardo has to be at the top of his skill level in order to get a seat in such a specialized program,” she says, noting that OTC has had three additional students also make it into the STEP Collision and Paint Program during the past three years.
“Ricardo is a super sweet guy, and we wish him the best,” she says.
Other top-grade Ohio programs include Sentinel Career Center in Tiffin and the Trumbull Career and Technical Center in Warren — both schools with recent SkillsUSA winners.