A Conversation with 2018 World Class Technician Mark Cossitt
FenderBender sat down with one of the 2018 World Class Technician recipients, Mark Cossitt, who reflected on his career in collision repair and where he thinks the industry is heading.
There are an estimated 879,000 technicians in the United States, with more than 300,000 of them holding ASE certification. Nearly 2,000 technicians have earned the status of “World Class Technician” since its inception over 30 years ago.
To earn World Class status, a technician must achieve certification in 22 specialty areas during the 2017 certification test administered by ASE.
What drew you to the automotive industry, and what made you passionate about it?
My interest in the industry started in my freshman year in high school.
I was at a new school and Jim Houpt, who ultimately became one of my best friends, had an old Mustang. He grew up around cars and drag racing and I quickly became a car guy as well. Sadly, he passed away about 4 years after we graduated.
The biggest driver for me has been sharing knowledge. Having worked extensively as a training instructor in various capacities over the years, I enjoy sharing the knowledge I have gained throughout the years.
Where do you currently work, and how long have you worked there?
I have been working with CCC Information Services for just over a year and a half. CCC Information Services provides estimating software, claims management software and other products supporting the automotive insurance and collision repair industries.
In my job I provide product training/support as well as consulting services. Although I was familiar with collision repair processes and procedures I decided to complete the associated ASE certifications to test my knowledge of the collision repair industry and establish my credibility. These final certifications are what completed my World Class certification.
Can you give a brief bio of your career journey, including how and why you earned your World Class certification with ASE?
As a single parent for many years, I have always tried to instill a concept in my son that if you are going to do something you should do it well. Staying current with the industry and maintaining my certifications has been one aspect of this concept. My first ASE was taken when I was still in college working on my Associates of Applied Science in Automotive Technology in the General Motors Automotive Service Education Program. (GM ASEP) I took the electrical certification first as this was “the one” everyone was afraid of.
After graduating and working in a dealership environment I started working as a contract instructor for General Motors. I also worked with UD Trucks as the national manager of service training and American LaFrance as the national service manager.
More recently I worked for one of the collision avoidance manufacturers supporting their aftermarket product as their customer support supervisor managing a group of technicians across the country. Over the years I have taken a total of 111 initial and re-certification tests. I am currently certified in a total of 40 different areas with master automobile, collision, medium/heavy truck, school bus and transit bus areas with additional advanced level certifications.
What are your thoughts on the technician shortage currently facing the industry?
I have heard about the "technician shortage” for a long time. It isn't a shortage of people in the industry but rather a shortage of skilled and qualified people in the industry. Many people are of the mindset that diagnosing a vehicle is as easy as reading a code on a computer and then replacing the associated part.
True technicians will take the time to truly diagnose the code and then repair the root cause of the problem. Access to quality training and valid service information is critical to stay current in an industry that is changing so quickly.
What are some ways shops can get people more like yourself involved and passionate about auto repair?
I think younger people are not interested in the industry as much as they were years ago. Most high schools no longer have automotive repair or body programs. There is a stigma that if you don't have a 4 year degree you will never make a good living. This simply isn't true.
I believe that learning about cars at a young age and working on them can lead into other aspects of the industry just as it has for me. Industry outreach and the availability of shop-based classes would be a great help.