It’s a sad specimen — a 1996 Nissan Frontier pickup truck that has been used and abused, no longer roadworthy and deemed the dealership’s “trash truck.” But rather than meet with a tragic frame-wrecking end at the junkyard, two Park Place Infiniti trainees are working to turn the tarnished truck into a gleaming treasure.
“When we get young guys with a lot of potential, we want to give them the best opportunity to learn and become experts at their craft,” Park Place Infiniti General Manager Joe Tortomasi said. “This project is going to be fun and give them hands-on experience.”
The restoration is expected to be a monthslong process, as the trainees will devote time to the project between regular assignments at the dealership.
Aaron Perez, 24, started working at Park Place Infiniti just over a year ago, washing cars for the body shop.
“I’m excited they’re letting me do this,” he said. “I know it’s going to be a long process. I just started learning how to buff paint and treat surfaces for water spots, so this is a really big deal. They told me I can’t just buy a new panel. I have to work out all the dents until it’s perfectly smooth.”
Jose Padilla, the body technician who will mentor Perez, said he looks forward to seeing the project through.
“This is the first opportunity I’ve had to be a mentor,” he said. “I have about 14 years of experience, so I think it’s cool to be able to pass on some of my knowledge.”
Charles Cox, Park Place Infiniti’s service manager, said this is the first time trainees have been given such a project. He suspects it will provide more than the basics in bodywork and mechanics.
“It’s a good team-builder,” Cox said. “They’ll be able to do hands-on work and work with the dealership’s group leaders, who will be watching to make sure repairs are going as they should be.”
“I’m excited and nervous, but thankful for this opportunity,” said Miguel Aguilar, 26, who will be restoring the truck’s engine. Aguilar, who has worked in the dealership’s car wash for five years, said he decided just seven weeks ago to get into the mechanical side of the business.
Omero Torres, the mechanic team lead who will mentor Aguilar through the project, said he enjoys teaching young mechanics.
“The most important lesson I try to impart is the idea that taking care of someone’s car is taking care of their livelihood,” Torres said. “People need a car for everything — taking kids to school, going to work, going to the doctor. So, it’s important to do it right.”
In June 2012, Park Place purchased the Infiniti dealership in Las Vegas. For more information, visit, www.parkplaceinfiniti.com.