The Universal Technical Institute returned to Friendly Ford on March 25 for its annual meeting and scholarship testing. The event offers invaluable information for those wanting to become automotive technicians and was held at the dealership for the second straight year.
The world of automotive technicians changes continually. It remains a field that requires intense knowledge while also offering the opportunity to make a good living in a specialized business.
Dealership assistant service manager Michelle Ochoa has been with Friendly Ford for 13 years. She said the annual visit by UTI has been a win-win for everyone.
“In the past two years, Friendly Ford has welcomed students from UTI who have joined our service department,” she said. “This is an excellent program which provides very good training for those wanting to be automotive technicians. As I know very well, the service portion of the car business is the result of excellent teamwork ranging from the service writers all the way to the technicians who provide the repairs or updates.
“Needless to say, your technician is much like your doctor considering that customers count on them, and it’s not unusual for customers to call on the same person during each visit.”
Ochoa said the training provided by UTI is based on the hands-on portion of the industry.
“It’s a fascinating industry,” she said. “Every day is a challenge.”
Another big believer in the automobile service industry is dealership service director Greg Haase, who started as a technician with Friendly Ford nearly 40 years ago.
“I will never forget it,” said Haase, adding that technology in the car business has changed dramatically in the past decade. “This business has been very rewarding, and it’s very specialized. There is a special sense of accomplishment in knowing that you not only recognized a challenge but repaired it, too. Once you’re a technician, you’re a technician for life. In fact, I dropped a new engine into my 1978 Ford F-150 before I arrived here today.
“I will never get this business out of my blood.”
Haase said technicians at Friendly Ford make $4,000-$7,000 a month.
Julio Fuentes attended UTI in Rancho Cucamonga, California, after graduating from Clark High School in Las Vegas in 2010.
“It was a long journey but a very good experience,” said the 25-year-old Fuentes, who is now a Ford apprentice technician at Friendly Ford. “This all required a two-year commitment to complete my schooling, but it was worth every bit of it.
“I wish I had known about UTI when I graduated from high school.”
“We’re elated to be returning to Friendly Ford,” said Rudy Arbabi, UTI’s admissions director. “We have seen a very impressive level of pride and enthusiasm during our visits to the dealership. The students exemplify a high level of dedication, and we’re proud to help provide the path on a mission that will forever be a part of their lives.”
A graduate of the University of Southern California, Arabi has been working with UTI for 12 years.
“You will never go hungry when you’re working as an automotive technician,” he told a crowd of about 175.
UTI presented several scholarships at the event. In addition, financial aid experts were present to help advise parents and students about future educational needs. UTI has 12 campuses nationwide providing education covering the mechanical portion of the automotive business.
Located at 660 N. Decatur Blvd, Friendly Ford has been at the same location since 1970. The dealership will celebrate its 47th anniversary April 7.
Further information can be found by visiting www.friendlyford.com or by calling 702-870-7221.