Brent Berman talks Garage Gurus and emerging trends in automotive repair and maintenance training.
Brent Berman is the director of training and consumer experience team at Federal-Mogul Motorparts and the heart behind the launch of Garage Gurus.
Q: Can you explain what Garage Gurus is and how the initiative came about?
A: Our former CEO (Dan Ninivaggi) created the “Tech First” initiative. The premise of the “Tech First” initiative is to focus our efforts to reach and support auto technicians. They are the lifeblood of our industry and ultimately our largest customer group. As a team, we refocused our attention on discovering what we could do to support technicians in ways that are meaningful to them. We realized automotive technicians needed training and our industry needed more technicians.
The big idea behind Garage Gurus is that we can provide technicians everything they need to know to install our parts. Our training motto is, “On Site, Online, and On Demand.” We discovered a huge impediment to training for technicians is time. We had to bring training to them – at times that fit their schedules. We want technicians and automotive service centers to know: when you buy a product manufactured by Federal-Mogul Motorparts you get support. We landed on the name Garage Gurus for the program. It’s a name that is relatable to automotive technicians.
Q: What has been the reaction to Garage Gurus?
A: The program has really taken off. I think some of our competitors are trying to figure out, “How are they doing it?” The simple answer is we are committed to the program. We have invested in it and now we’re seeing the benefits. In addition to our core program elements, Garage Gurus awards scholarships each year to deserving students to help them achieve their educational goals. Also, a significant percentage of our technical training courses are now conducted in Spanish, servicing a growing but underserved segment of the technician population.
Q: What have you learned since the launch of Garage Gurus in 2014?
A: On a personal basis, this journey has reminded me that change is constant. Twenty years ago when I started working at Federal-Mogul, I worked in training. By 2014, I thought I knew everything I needed to know about field training. During the launch of Garage Gurus, I saw firsthand how the automotive industry is in a constant state of evolution. I realized training has to change along with the industry to stay relevant. I’ve grown professionally through this experience. Two decades ago, I would never have thought of taking training to the place we have today.
Q: What is next for Garage Gurus?
A: China’s automotive aftermarket industry is new and growing rapidly – and we are fired up to play a part in its evolution. We opened our first Garage Gurus facility in China late last year. We have been piloting a similar program in Western Europe. Outside of expansion, I can’t yet disclose more details about our next moves for Garage Gurus. Stay tuned!