Sewell Lexus of Dallas
“Both my brother and father went through the Automotive Tech program. I enrolled in the Auto Tech program first and then got a job working at Sewell Village Cadillac that first year, doing mechanic work, but I didn’t like working on Cadillacs. I had a buddy who worked at Park Place Lexus, and when [program director] Curt Jenkins told me that my courses would transfer over to the T-Ten program, that’s what I did. The courses that I’d already taken counted, so it all worked out well for me.
“I loved that my classes were hands-on and that we could develop a really close relationship with our instructors. I got individual attention and just got really good knowledge from all of my instructors. What skills from my classes do I use on the job — where do I begin?
“First, there was the basic knowledge — I grew up around cars and had an idea of how things worked, but the diagnostic skills I learned in the program really helped me out, and I use those on a daily basis at work. The instructors really gave us in-depth training, and the Toyota T-Ten program was very specific to the product line I was already working with.
“One of the best parts to me is that both working and taking classes, I got to do things at school that I wasn’t ready to do at work yet: like how to safely move and overhaul transmissions, and do major repairs that I hadn’t performed at work yet and didn’t want to experiment on in a commissioned job. The labs at school were definitely the best part of the program.
“I would definitely recommend the Automotive Tech program. My best advice? Study and listen closely to everything your instructors say — and then follow their advice! If it’s broken on a car — other than paint and body — I can fix it.”
Jamie Smith is leader of the Maroon Group of Sewell Lexus of Dallas, one of its 14 teams of technicians. Having started out as a service technician, he now supervises four technicians himself. He earned an associate degree in Automotive Technology in 1999, worked at Park Place Lexus for six years, and has been at Sewell Lexus since 2004.