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Online Voters Choose Grand Prize Winner of Techs Rock Contest

More than 30,000 people cast their online vote to choose the grand prize winner in the first annual Techs Rock Awards sponsored by the nonprofit TechForce Foundation.

The one-week, public online vote determined that Michael Cole, a technician for Kunes Country Ford in Delavan, Wis., was the grand prize winner. He will receive roundtrip airfare and hotel accommodations to Scottsdale, Ariz., to enjoy Arizona Auto Week 2019 Jan. 16-20 and be honored at the annual TechForce Foundation Summit.

More than 250 working techs nationwide were nominated for one of five categories, including Pay it Forward, Rookie of the Year, Die Hard Tech, Outstanding Mentor, and Barrier Buster.

These five finalists went on to an online, people’s choice award vote in which more than 30,000 votes were cast.

“It’s been amazing to see the energy, enthusiasm and engagement the industry’s had for the Techs Rock Awards,” says Julia Landauer, participating judge and NASCAR race car driver. “This award isn’t about how fast they can turn a wrench or their technical achievements, but about giving back, being involved in the lives of future techs, and helping others who want to follow in their steps succeed.”

"These technicians are directly impacting their communities and their organizations and showing us firsthand that a career as a transportation tech is one that both they and the future techs who they’re inspiring can take sincere pride in," adds Bogi Lateiner, participating judge, board member of TechForce Foundation and owner of Bogi’s Garage and 180° Automotive.

TechForce Foundation’s panel of industry judges also included Jeff Allen, Steve Johnson and Greg Rintala, and Miss Julia Landauer.

Each category winner received a TechForce $1,000 tool voucher sponsored by Snap-on.

Cole won the Pay It Forward Category. The other category winners were: Andrew Fields, Rob Sight Ford in Kansas City, Mo., Rookie of the Year; Erik Craddock, Firestone Complete Autocare in Appleton, Wis., Die Hard Tech; Shane Conley, Suzuki Motors of America in Brea, Calif., Outstanding Mentor; Wayne Quiggins - Southern Cycles in Apopka, Fla., Barrier Buster.

"Our country’s technicians are the backbone of the transportation industry and work diligently every day to keep America rolling, says Jennifer Maher, executive director of TechForce Foundation. “They’re skilled professionals who also give generously of their time and talent –both at work and in their communities– to inspire the next generation of qualified technicians. They deserve our appreciation and recognition.”

More information on each winner follows.

Grand Prize Winner and “Pay it Forward” Category Winner: Michael Cole - Kunes Country Ford in Delavan, Wis.

Why Mike was nominated: “Mike is incredibly smart and passionate about teaching. He works with future techs from the local tech college by letting them shadow him in the shop, volunteers with Boy Scouts as both a board member and teacher and often spends time teaching them how to weld. He also helps the technical college build circuit boards for training. Mike teaches leadership to his Scouts as well as in the shop. He believes we are all students in the process of self-improvement. He is very knowledgeable and is always willing to help other techs in the shop. He is patient and kind when helping others and never talks down to anyone.”

“Rookie of the Year” Category Winner: Andrew Fields - Rob Sight Ford in Kansas City, Mo.

Why Andrew was nominated: “His hard work since then has driven him to become one of the most promising up-and-coming technicians that I have ever had the opportunity to work with. It is important to understand what makes up that promise for Andy: whether its consistently having one of the best attitudes across the dealership, his overall job performance, his educational accomplishments, his communication skills or, most importantly, what he does to help mentor and develop young men and women into becoming successful technicians in both the dealership and community. And while I think that his personal accomplishments are of serious significance, it’s the type of impact he makes as an individual in the dealership and in the technician community that make him an absolute gift to work with each and every day.”

“Die Hard Tech” Category Winner: Erik Craddock - Firestone Complete Autocare in Appleton, Wis.

Why Erik was nominated: “All he had was the drive and the dream to one day master the role of a tech. After taking advantage of the training available to him over the years, he is now an ASE Automotive Master Certified technician with the L1 Advanced level certification. He is a die-hard stickler for making sure that every car that is repaired at his facility is done right the first time – even if he isn’t the tech who serviced the vehicle. This includes making sure that the customers’ vehicles are at least as clean as they were before being serviced! He always comes in early & will often stay late to make sure that all vehicles are done within the time promised to the customers.”

“Outstanding Mentor” Category Winner: Shane Conley - Suzuki Motors of America in Brea, Calif.

Why Shane was nominated: “Shane has been teaching motorcycle and power equipment students for many years with an attention to detail and passion unmatched by anyone I know. His approach is unique and extremely effective – and he never leaves a student behind. His YouTube training videos have motivated me and helped me in many troubleshooting scenarios. He’s even taken time out of his personal schedule to chat with me on the phone as I diagnosed problems on my own ORV. I call him a friend and a great person with the desire to teach. He’s currently at Suzuki teaching the technicians. In what little spare time he has, he also runs his own repair facility, where his “How2Wrench” video studio is located. I feel he is a rare example of leadership and patience and fully deserves this award.”

“Barrier Buster” Category Winner: Wayne Quiggins - Southern Cycles in Apopka, Fla.

Why Wayne was nominated: “Wayne was one of my students in 2013 and showed himself to be an extremely driven and passionate young man who’s love for motorcycles and desire to spend his life working on them far exceeded a want. To him it was a need that you could see each and every time you interacted with him every day. Wayne put forth more effort than any other student I have had the privilege to train over the course of my 9 years of instructing. He is a veteran of our US military and NEVER lets anything defeat him! He does whatever is necessary to overcome obstacles – from long nights of studying to many, many days spent after class tutoring with myself and other instructors. His determination and heart is inspirational, to put it lightly.”

About TechForce Foundation

TechForce Foundation is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) with the mission to champion students to and through their technical education and into careers as professional technicians. TechForce awards more than $2.0 million in scholarships and grants annually, thanks to its generous corporate sponsors and donors, and spearheads FutureTech Success, the industry-wide initiative to encourage and support more young people to pursue the vehicle technician profession.

For more information, visit techforcefoundation.org.

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