From Trainee to Trainer
Among the teams of technicians at Gerber Collision in Scottsdale, Ariz., one team consistently stands out—and that’s the one led by Julio Andrade.
Growing up near Mexico City, Andrade worked on cars as far back as he can remember, handing wrenches to his uncle in the shop and making body repair an early component of his education.
It’s that life-long expertise that allows Andrade to lead a top-notch, extremely efficient team of technicians at the Gerber shop he’s worked at for eight years. And he’s got the numbers to prove it: Andrade maintains consistent numbers, averaging 55-plus cars repaired per month with a cycle time that consistently averages under six days.
“His dedication to our ever-growing industry is followed by many at Gerber as an example of hard work on and off the field,” writes production manager Bill Huffine in his 2014 FenderBender Award nomination of Andrade. “Julio has brought structure to our back end, as he’s always the guy to rely on. His impact is felt by just showing up—he brings a smile to my face every morning, as well as everyone else.”
Andrade and Huffine discuss what makes the standout technician so effective on the floor, and his tips for being a mentor to your technician team.
Be Driven to Learn
Starting out as extra help at the shop, Andrade rose through the ranks at Gerber through his work ethic and his own self-education. He went to I-CAR classes, and is now receiving training for aluminum repairs.
“You can tell from the first day he started working that he just wanted to absorb any knowledge he could and move forward in the company,” Huffine says. “So with that kind of outgoing look into the future, we know with Julio, he can be a leader in anything we put him in.”
Andrade benefits from the classes Gerber sends him to, but he also puts a lot of after-hours work into his craft, staying late at the shop and keeping up with the latest industry trends.
“I think about the skills I need to do my job well all the time,” Andrade says. “It just takes a lot of practice and really long days. But it’s worth it.”
Transfer Your Knowledge
What stands out most about Andrade, Huffine says, is not just his aptitude for learning, but also his ability to transfer his knowledge to his team.
Just recently, Andrade attended an I-CAR bumper repair training class, and although he had already taken the class in the past, he made time throughout the day to teach them new skills he picked up.
“[The bumper repair class] is perfect for a guy like Julio,” Huffine says. “I brought him to one of these classes, and he took that knowledge and our new bumper repair machine and taught his guys how to do that. All that little stuff helps.”
Listen to Your Peers
Andrade says he is always be willing to help the technicians under him, as they are teaching him as much as he is teaching them. Allowing the technicians to teach their superiors new things empowers the technician, and the team as a whole.
And because he is so in tune with and aware of his fellow technicians’ habits, he is able to correct his peers when they’re doing something wrong without creating animosity.
“I'm always behind my guys,” Andrade says. “If there’s something I don't like, I tell them right away and show them how to do it.”
Take on the Bigger Jobs
While Gerber holds huddle meetings every morning to go over the daily workload, it’s how Andrade transfers and organizes that information that allows his team to function effectively each day.
Since Andrade is the most experienced technician, he assigns himself all the structural repairs and quarter panel replacements, and delegates his team to handle the lighter repairs. He also assigns two of his technicians to tear down and rebuild vehicles he’s working on.
“The blueprints I get from Julio and the teardowns I get, they're always spot-on,” Huffine says. “I don’t have to go back and look into something, or ask, 'Why did you miss this molding?' Before I even ask a questions, he’s got the answer.”
Streamline the Repair Process
Each member of Andrade’s team fills out a quality collision inspection sheet that details a checklist of items, which Andrade scrutinizes before handing cars off to his production manager.
Andrade even suggested hiring a technician for mechanical work, which frees up his team to concentrate on the body repairs.
“His leadership skills enable him to be able to take the information I give him, go to his team, tell them what to do in the order he needs it to be done to make it as efficient as possible,” Huffine says.
Set Up the Next Day
Andrade also schedules clean-up time with his crew in order to make the next morning go smoothly and increase efficiency.
“I'll come in at 6 a.m. and his stalls are cleaned out and set up,” Huffine says. “Cars are up on jack stands, waiting for the estimators to come and work on them. His shop is always set up the next day for success.”