Nine years after opening that shop, Bogi decided to take a big risk and make a difference in the industry by reaching out, bringing the women in it together and bringing more women into it.
There is a Need…
One of the main gripes from the owners of repair, collision, custom, fabrication-just about any kind of automotive shop-is that it’s difficult to find qualified people for the jobs available.
The Tech Workforce Foundation puts the problem in a nutshell: “The transportation industry is booming and becoming more technologically advanced each day. Ask any employer of technicians and you’ll hear the woes regarding the shortfall of skilled labor, not enough trained technicians to fill the demand and serious competition in recruiting talent.”
“Finding qualified mechanics, who are a good fit for the culture of your shop, is one of the main concerns of the repair industry,” said Diane Larson, owner of Larson’s Quality Automotive Service. She tries to stay ahead by working with local tech schools, asking for referrals from everyone her business has contact with.
And the news is even worse when it comes to the women in the automotive workplace. Several years ago, I was talking to the director of the automotive program of a South Carolina technical school, and he told me that fewer than 14 percent of the women who went through their automotive programs ended up working in their field of study.
These were the roots from which was born the Chevy Montage Truck Project.
All About Teaching
The Chevy Montage Project is a frame off resto-mod of a 1957 Chevy truck. One of the things that sets this truck apart is the drivetrain that is going into it. The truck will be powered by a BMW S62 engine. The project is named “Montage” as it is a combination of a modern euro drivetrain with a vintage domestic truck. The name also refers to the fact that the truck will be restored and built by women from all over the country, from automotive professionals to DIY’ers to women who are interested in automotive but have little to no experience, just an interest to learn.
Most of these women have never met one another and many have never done the kind of work they will be doing on this truck. And while the team will be building a badass, one off truck, this project is primarily about teaching and building a supportive network of women in the industry. Throughout the year, there will be workshops on welding, mechanics, upholstery, pinstriping, detailing, and much more. Women with little to no experience will be mentored by the more experienced women.
The entire process from start to finish is being carefully documented in video and photos. Photos will be posted to social media and videos will be uploaded to Bogi’s YouTube Channel. It’s all about inspiring and teaching. Anyone can follow along and see the process. For example, if someone is trying to replace a rocker panel in their ’50s Chevy truck, they can get ideas from watching a video of the team replacing the rockers on the truck.
The road ahead for the project is long and challenging. While we are trying to plan for those challenges, the path of restoration is full of unforeseen twists and turns. It’s a road that is hard enough when you have a shop full of people you are used to working with, let alone people that you have never worked with before. Bogi and the team have until late October to finish and have the truck ready for display in the BASF booth at the 2017 SEMA Show. I’ll try and keep you all updated throughout the year on the adventures the team experiences. But everyone can follow along on Bogi’s Facebook page, Bogisgarage Instagram page and on the Bogi’s Garage YouTube channel. Women who are interested and folks who want to learn more can do so on www.bogisgarage.com.
But despite all the ups and downs, we can never lose sight of our main objective-to bring awareness to those who work in the industry-and to those who want to.
One of the most amazing aspects of the build, is that the team members are donating their time and expenses. Some are using their vacation time from their jobs, while others are taking unpaid leave. A few ladies have even temporarily relocated to the Phoenix area. Barbie the Welder is spending four weeks away from her shop, while Michelle Ames David is parking her RV in Phoenix for 17 weeks. These women are paying their own travel expenses and this is where you can help!
Please take a moment, check out their crowdfunding page and the wicked cool perks Bogi has lined up, and help make it a little easier for the team to get this project completed.