Let Your Passion Be Your Guide

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Erin Detchon is a talented young woman recruited by PPG as part of its ongoing efforts to cultivate the industry and to always try to bring fresh talent into the fold,
fostering hands-on skills, management responsibilities and opening the vibrant and rewarding doors of a career in automotive paint to as many young men and women as
possible.
 
She is also a part of the PPG mentoring program. In February 2019, PPG announced that the PPG Foundation completed grants totaling $715,000 to 11 universities
considered premier institutions in engineering, polymer science, chemical  engineering, materials science and synthetic organic chemistry. The grants support a vast array of programs and initiatives, including fellowships for graduate students,
symposia, conference travel, scholarships, mentorship programs and other initiatives.
 
PPG and the PPG Foundation are committed to providing color and brightness to PPG communities around the world. Together, they invested more than $9 million in 2018 supporting hundreds of communities across 28 countries, helping to bolster
the workforce in fields relating to coating and manufacturing.
 
How long have you been with PPG? 

A year and a half. I went to my local vo-tech school, Medina County Career Center (Medina, Ohio) to learn the trade, competed in SkillsUSA for automotive refinish, worked as a combo technician in a collision repair center, then pursued a career with PPG. 

The best part was having an instructor that was as enthusiastic about the industry and cared about the success of his students. His attitude and support inspired me to learn more and build a career doing what I love.

 

What is your current role?

I am a sales trainee. My responsibilities are split between working in our training center helping with classes for refinish technicians and working with our territory managers in collision repair centers. During classes, I do a variety of tasks including teaching in the classroom, prepping panels, mixing paint and instructing the hands-on portion in the paint booth.

 

What excites you about this industry? 

The automotive industry is constantly changing and that challenges you to continue learning throughout your career. This summer, for example, I will be focusing on learning more about the commercial and industrial sides of our industry.

One challenge for me will be learning about the wide array of our commercial and industrial products and being confident in recommending the correct products based on every customer's needs.

 

What keeps you up at night? 

The lack of new technicians coming into the industry. There's a very real movement happening among educating, hiring and retaining female technicians, painters, and other hands-on careers within the automotive industry. 

 

What excites you about that? 

There are women who are unsure about becoming a technician and I believe this movement will/has given them the confidence to take a chance. Most shop owners and technicians are very supportive of women in the industry and are willing to provide the learning tools they need to succeed. 

 

What do people need to know about this industry? 

It doesn’t matter who you are, make sure you have a passion for what you do and be willing to learn. 

 

What industry associations and resources would you recommend for aspiring technicians in automotive refinish?

The PPG training website offers great resources on standard operating procedures from initial cleaning to basecoat blending and clear coating. PPG also offers a
number of training classes across the country, including a new refinish preparation specialist class specifically designed to train the next generation of technicians. I-CAR
also offers a variety of educational and training opportunities to technicians of all levels. And for the students new to automotive refinish, I recommend looking into
SkillsUSA—it offers students educational and mentorship opportunities, scholarship opportunities, and they assist with career placement. It’s a great organization.
 

What's your favorite story from this industry? 

My last day working in the shop, my manager pulled me aside and admitted to me that he was nervous the first day we met. He was unsure about a young woman being able to do the job. After working with me, he said that now he trusts me to do anything and that his perspective on young women in the industry had changed. He hired another young woman for that position after I went to PPG and things are great.  
 

What have you seen that sticks with you?

The opportunities available for people that have the drive to do more. 

 

And what's next?

I am going to continue learning and work towards becoming a territory manager for PPG. Our goal as territory managers is to help customers grow their businesses and stay up to date on the newest products, procedures and technology, as well as building relationships with potential customers.

Detchon 2

The Painter's Playbook is presented by PPG and SATA/Dan-Am Co.

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