The winners of the annual SkillsUSA Championships in Automotive Refinish and Collision Repair categories were recently announced. Aims Community College-Windsor, Greeley, Colorado student Benjamin Falconer, won the Automotive Refinishing Technology High School division national Gold Medal.
Aims Community College switched to Martin Senour automotive paints in the summer of 2014 and subsequently, Falconer and his fellow technical education students have all been trained in automotive refinishing exclusively using NAPA/Martin Senour products.
According to Fred Brown, auto collision repair director, and Zac Kreider, auto collision repair instructor, both at Aims Community College, "We have a national refinishing SkillsUSA first place champion that has been proudly trained on Martin Senour products. This student beat thousands of competitors throughout the nation in the district, state, national level competitions and will have an opportunity to compete at the world competition. It's outstanding that a Martin Senour trained student won such a prestigious competition."
"SkillsUSA Championships is a phenomenal event that allows vocational students to showcase their amazing talents, and also provides the public a look into the world of skilled trades," says Rod Habel, Martin Senour director of training. "The intensity and talent of the field of competitors in the automotive refinish category was incredible to witness. Each is a winner in our eyes. We are proud to assist in growing talent to help expand this industry and especially proud of Benjamin and his support team."
"Martin Senour has been the only sponsor for SkillsUSA for each of the past 20 years. We supply assistance each year in the form of manpower, associated products and other materials," adds Habel. "Of note, every four years – which will occur in 2016 again – we will also supply all the paint and all panels to be used in the competition."
Robert McKenzie Jr., executive director of Refinish Distributors Alliance (RDA), personally congratulated and presented all the winners with their scholarships, including Falconer as the Gold Medalist in the High School Automotive Refinishing Technology competition. The scholarships can be used by the winner to cover the cost of additional training. RDA also provided each winner with Intro to Collision Repair classes from I-CAR.
SkillsUSA is the national organization for students in trade, industrial, technical and health occupations education. It annually sponsors the SkillsUSA Championships that recognize the achievements of career and technical education students, while also encouraging them to strive for excellence and pride in their chosen occupations.
The contests are planned by technical committees compromised of labor and management representatives and are designed to test the skills needed for a successful entry-level performance in given occupational fields. Safety practices and procedures - an area of great concern to labor and management alike - are judged and graded to constitute a portion of a contestant's score.
In the Automotive Refinishing contest, contestants demonstrated their ability to perform jobs and skills based on the task list outlined by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) and the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF). The competition includes a series of workstations to assess skills in the following areas: surface preparation; spray gun operation; paint mixing, matching and applying; solving paint application problems; determining finish defects, causes and cures; and utilization of safety precautions. The competitor also completed an interview, a written estimate and an ASE written exam. The overall appearance of the finished product, speed and proper safety practices were judged.