Sweeney Technician Earns GM Leadership Award
BOARDMAN, Ohio – Shortly after receiving the GM Leadership Award on the shop floor of Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC, technician Nathan Wire said he felt more than a little relief and a sense of accomplishment and pride.
“It was stressful to start with. It’s a lot of work,” Wire said. “But it truly paid off. I’m out here in the field doing what I want to do.”
The second-year technician received the award Tuesday morning from Chuck McDowell, instructor of the General Motors Automotive Service Educational Program at Stark State College.
Wire, 21, began working at Sweeney after attending the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center, where he studied automotive technology.
He said Sweeney management encouraged him to sign up for the program at Stark State, which allows students to earn an associate degree in automotive technology in two years.
“[Nate’s] attendance was impeccable and he was always willing to help other people,” McDowell said. “He was always a leader by example.”
Since 2016, Sweeney has partnered with Stark State to send technicians through the program, with the dealership paying their tuition and wages provided they maintain a GPA of at least 2.5.
“This is a good deal,” said Ethan Hall, a technician at Sweeney who will begin the program on Monday.
The 19-year-old Hall said he wanted to pursue a medical degree, but recently decided to follow his interests.
“I have an engineering mind,” he said.
Since 2016, Sweeney has sent about 10 students through the program, according to Alexa Sweeney Blackann, president of Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC.
While the national success rate for the program is around 25%, she said they’re seeing a success rate of about 40% with their technicians. Sweeney currently employs five graduates of the program.
“Those that are really drawn to it and stick with it do really well,” Sweeney Blackann said.
Earning their degree is one of the final steps Sweeney technicians take as they go from high school to a career as a master technician.
After getting a solid foundation at MCCTC and earning their two-year degree at Stark State, the technicians receive additional training through GM and then are paired with a dedicated mentor, Sweeney Blackann said.
“We’ve been able to shrink that 20-year master tech track down to five years,” Sweeney Blackann said.
“A competitive technician that would be in his 30s or 40s is 23 now.”
Pictured at top: Nathan Wire receives the GM Leadership Award from instructor Chuck McDowell.
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