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Training through experience

Tualatin's Daniel Lacy hopes to fill need in the automotive training industry


by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Bobs Auto Cafe hopes to properly train technicians through paid internships. Its Board of Directors, Daniel Lacy, Russ Johnson, Ken Dixon Bob Harris, Colin Hart and Jamie Brooks are working to make this a reality. (Not pictured - Hart and Brooks.)Daniel Lacy was struck by an idea 15 years ago. He wanted to figure out a way to provide mechanical training and certification to those who might not be able to attain it through traditional means.

He noticed a shift in the market that was encouraging more and more people to pursue four-year degrees and high tech careers, while driving them away from blue collar work. Lacy wondered who would end up doing these jobs, and if they would be done well.

For years, he put the idea on the back burner, and slowly started looking into it more than five years ago. When he was laid off from his job earlier this year, the Tualatin resident decided it was now or never to put all of his resources into creating a Christian-run 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Bob's Auto Cafe.

“The youth today are either going into high tech jobs, or they're flipping burgers. Not to demean that, we need people for all different job types, but in the automotive industry right now, people are dying off, or they're retiring,” he said. “They're not getting up to speed with the current genre of cars, and the blue collar trade is going away.

How you can help:

Bob's Auto Cafe is having an auction on Sept. 6 at Tualatin Auto Body to help reach its $75,000 fundraising goal. The nonprofit is accepting auction donations until July 30. If you would like to help, you can do the following:

• Sponsor a table

• Corporate sponsorship

• Donate a unique or valuable item/service

• The nonprofit is always accepting car donations

For more information, questions or to donate, visit bobsautocafe.com.

"One of my board of directors members said I either needed to shut up and quit talking about this or get off my butt and do something.”

At its core, the concept that executive director Lacy and his five board members have come up with is simple — the hard part is collecting the resources to make it happen.

The idea is to focus training on three different types of people: recent high school graduates, members of the workforce wanting to change careers and returning veterans. From there, the interns will be paid minimum wage to work on cars in a shop, continuously working toward earning their Automotive Service Excellence certification.

The goal is to properly train interns on how to work on cars through the supervision of an ASE certified technician. Through car donations, interns will learn the ins and outs of vehicle repair, then the cars will be sold after they're fixed up. Customers will be able to bring their vehicles in at a discounted rate to have interns repair via the supervision and instruction of their teacher.

Bob's Auto Cafe will also work to provide car care to families who wouldn't be able to afford it otherwise.

“We might be a tick slower, but we're going to be proficient and we're going to be accurate,” Lacy said. “You're getting the proper service, a fair rate, and you know the job is going to be done right.”

Lacy received notice last week that their 501(c)(3) paperwork had finished processing and was approved, meaning he is one step closer to his November opening goal. Before that can happen, he and his board must also raise $75,000 and find a viable shop location. Lacy hopes to stay in Tualatin, but will still be happy even if he has to take the business into Tigard or Sherwood.

Having worked in the automotive industry most of his life, Lacy deeply feels that things like Bob's Auto Cafe will be necessary for the future of the industry. He said he's found that many people who want to go to trade school can't pay for it and don't always get proper certification even if they go to school.

“Today, we're not getting the proper training for the industry. People that want the training can't afford the training, and the industry is needing these technicians — the industry is falling by the wayside,” he said. “We want to train these individuals to come in and to be not only proficient workers, but people who are going to be reputable, have good ethics and be able to work in the workplace and do so in a manner that's respectful."

When Bob's Auto Cafe opens in November, Lacy plans on keeping the numbers down to one instructor for two interns, growing it as it gets more funds and resources. Eventually, his goal is to have several locations in the Portland area before working with people in a variety of states to take it beyond Oregon.

“I see a need for it,” he said. “This is something I've dreamt about for years, and it's something I want to do because I like to help people.”




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