TechForce Foundation announced the category winners for the 2021 Techs Rock Awards and opened the Grand Prize public vote, according to a press release. TechForce created this prestigious award to honor professional technicians who mentor and inspire the next generation of techs, bring excellence to their workplaces and communities and demonstrate passion and commitment to the profession. Meet the finalists and vote for the Grand Prize Winner at TechForce.org/Vote. Voting is open through Dec. 3, 2021 at 2 p.m. PST.
Category winners were selected from over 700 nominations by TechForce’s panel of industry judges including; Bogi Lateiner, Bogi’s Garage; Charles Sanville, The Humble Mechanic; Emily Reeves, Flying Sparks Garage; Steve Ford, The Car Guy; and Julia Landauer, NASCAR Driver.
Each category winner will receive prizes valued at more than $1,800 from TechForce partners including Ford Motor Company, CRC Industries, Snap-on Tools, Advance Auto Parts, Cengage, WD-40 and AutoZone.
One grand prize winner, as selected by popular vote, will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to STX 2022 in Orlando, FL, as courtesy of Advance Auto Parts, along with an additional prize package valued at over $5,000 from the aforementioned TechForce partners.
The 2021 Category Winners each represent a distinct category.
The Awardees include:
- Outstanding Mentor – David May, Karl Tyler Chevrolet. Shop Foreman David May mentors both professional technicians and students in his shop. He is credited with guiding many technicians into successful careers affording them a high quality of life. “One of the most satisfying rewards is to … see trainees be successful in their work and know that I had a hand in their success,” said May.
- Rookie of the Year – Drew Harless, Berglund Ford. Drew Harless was hired as an apprentice tech while still in high school and has been working in the shop full time since his high shool graduation. An Eagle Scout and SkillsUSA State Champion, Drew decided that college wasn’t for him once he discovered his love of cars in high school. “Every day I go to work with my mindset on learning something new … I want to show that you don’t need to go to college to be successful,” he said.
- Die Hard – Jess Anderson, Kolar Chevrolet. World class certified tech and die-hard Chevy fan Jess Anderson strives to be the best technician in the industry. She specializes in vehicle electrical systems and has a keen knack for explaining her work to fellow technicians and customers alike. “There is always something new to learn or a new way to perform a repair … with all the new electric vehicle platforms coming … I’m ready for that challenge,” Anderson said.
- Barrier Buster – Gabriel Gaumer, MHC Kenworth. Gabriel Gaumer’s colleagues describe him as a leader, one of the hardest working techs in the shop and someone always willing to go the extra mile. He said, “I went to tech school, but also have experience in the agricultural [and] construction … industries. I am a left arm amputee and can usually perform any task given to me [but] prefer the weird electrical gremlin jobs.”
- Pay it Forward – Donald Ranquist, Carmax. Donald Ranquist makes it a priority to find ways he can positively impact those around him. From serving on the Carmax Cares committee to establishing his own non-profit to heal victims of bullying through Motorsports, Donald shows those new to the industry what can be achieved as a technician. Ranquist said, “As an automotive technician I’ve developed skills that can help many people … I try and offer assistance in any way I can.”
The Techs Rock Awards are part of TechForce Foundation’s workforce development initiative to help inspire and support tomorrow’s workforce of technicians. TechForce has also created the first and only social network designed and gamified for professional technicians and tech students to connect with each other, employers, and schools (JoinTechForce.org). The transportation community is supporting it with content and using it to learn, connect, find events and explore job opportunities while competing for prizes and leaderboard status.