On Dec. 5, PPG Automotive Refinish and Mike’s Auto Body welcomed instructors from the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation (CDCR) for a full-day event that included presentations from vendors, tours of the Mike’s Auto Body’s Antioch, CA facility and its Auto Damage Assessment Center and Training Center (ADAC), as well as product demonstrations by its Training Program Director Lupe Algood, and a “get to know” session with CDCR’s Superintendent Shannon Swain.
The CDCR is operated in conjunction with the Division of Rehabilitative Programs within the Office of Correctional Education (OCE), an organization that offers 317 various academic and education programs at 35 of California’s adult state prisons. The goal of OCE is to provide offenders with needed education and career training as part of a broader effort to increase public safety and reduce recidivism. Fifteen of its programs involve training inmates on how to become metal technicians and painters so that they can attain careers in the collision repair industry after they have been released.
All adult schools in the CDCR prisons are fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) to ensure the highest level of education. There is currently a wide range of different auto body and paint programs available that are 6-18 months in length, and when completed successfully, graduates receive industry-recognized certifications.
Regional Manager Rob Hengemihle of PPG and Marketing Manager Dane Dearlove from Mike’s Auto Body coordinated the event. With 15-plus CDCR auto body and paint instructors and administrators in attendance, Dearlove kicked off the day with an opening statement. “Our common denominator is training students to work in the collision industry and helping them to build successful lifelong careers,” he said. “We can’t make it in this business by ourselves, so partnerships are essential and that’s why today is so mutually beneficial for all of us.”
After training the CDCR instructors on painting techniques at the PPG Training Center in Concord, CA earlier in the week, PPG’s Regional Manager Rob Hengemihle saw the importance of the meeting. “The instructors had a lot of questions for the vendors and trainers, so we know that a lot of useful information was shared,” he said. “The CDCR is updating their curriculum and undergoing a lot of big changes, and we’re excited to play a role in training these teachers to pass this information onto their students through their programs. PPG is pleased to support initiatives that help provide a pipeline of skilled painters to the collision industry.”
Mike’s Auto Body’s CEO Brennan Rose also saw great value in the meeting. “At Mike’s Auto Body, we understand the real lack of qualified technicians in our industry and have made a conscience and large financial effort to grow our own team members to ensure we have highly qualified technicians to carry us into the future. We are extremely fortunate to have strong partnerships supporting us in this venture as we transform young talented people into organized, efficient, quality technicians.”
Vice Principal of Career Technical Office of Correctional Education Michael Valdez is a former metal technician who oversees the program and supervises all of the auto body and paint instructors. “I know this industry well because I was in it for many years,” he said. “The state needs more and more collision professionals, so we are in the right place at exactly the right time. By meeting with industry leaders and top vendors, we are creating a bridge between what we’re currently doing and what the industry is doing. Mike’s Auto Body is one of the best MSOs in the country, and they are learning a lot about us and vice versa, so it’s two-way learning and these several days of training are invaluable. Our goal is to train our instructors to teach things where the need is the most while creating good habits and copying what companies like Mike’s Auto Body and PPG automotive refinish are doing.”
Leading vendors were on-hand to offer technical information about their services and products, including National Accounts and Industry Relations Manager Chris Springer from SATA; Territory Manager, Northern California/Northern Nevada Kristen Meehan from Western States Marketing; Senior Account Representative Dennis O’Keefe from 3M Automotive Aftermarket Division; Owner of Precision for Collision Joel Smith and Marketing Rep Chuck Leedy from PDX Marketing that represents Iwata and SEM.
CDCR’s Superintendent of Correctional Education Shannon Swain was appointed Gov. Edmund G. Brown, Jr. last October after serving as deputy superintendent since 2014. She was a subject matter expert of correctional education at Synergy Correctional Technology Services 2012-2014 and served in several positions at the CDCR Parolee Educational Programs, operated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education 1989-2012, including principal, program manager, project coordinator and teacher.
Swaim outlined three main things that she and her department want to achieve as part of a long-term plan. “Educating these inmates in collision repair is both fantastic and appropriate, and our overall goal is to help our students to thrive,” she said. “The first thing we want to do is embrace technology, which means we want to improve our infrastructure and have full wireless connectivity in every prison. During the last two years, we have worked to invest in the right tools for our auto body and paint programs, from paint booths to paint guns and all of the tools and equipment required.
“Second, we want safety to be paramount for both our teachers and our students and adhere to all of the state codes and requirements,” she said. “And third, we want to set up our students for good careers with excellent wages by training our teachers how to exhibit pro-social behavior. That includes fostering great customer service, good attitudes, open communication and a work ethic, so that they can learn the skills they need to excel. California is leading the way in prison education, so we also want to show the rest of the world what we’re doing and hopefully getting them onboard as well.”
Originally appeared in Autobody News