The annual Vision Hi-Tech Training & Expo always exceeds my expectations, and this year’s event held March 6-9 at the Overland Park Convention Center in Kansas City, delivered on all accounts.
I try to attend every year, take some classes, browse the Expo, and meet up with some old friends. Classes range from hybrid service, scope and scanner reading, diesel and gas engine driveability, to shop management. Some of the top instructors gather at this convention and put together some of the best classes I’ve ever attended. Whether it’s your first or 40th year in the repair business, you’ll learn something new from attending the Vision Hi-Tech convention.
THE CLASSES & THE EXPO
Most of the classes were all day — the morning half was lecture and familiarization with the tools and specifications, while the afternoon session was hands-on. Each contained exceptional information and instruction.
The first class I attended was on hybrid battery servicing. The class went deep into the theory behind the technology, how it works and how to properly charge, discharge and test each cell separately.
I also sat in on classes covering scope reading, diesel diagnostics and hybrid diagnostics. Every one of them was top notch.
Then, with time to spare, I made the rounds through the Expo and talked with several vendors and suppliers. From tires to tools to demonstrations, there was something for every facet of automotive repair.
All of the classes, seminars on future technology, luncheon speeches, live podcasts and “think tank” discussion panels were impressive and well received. Equally impressive were the guys and gals in attendance, the ones who swing the wrenches in service bays across the country.
This convention brings out the cream of the crop — those professionals who want to be better technicians and do a better job for their customers. You don’t go to one of these conventions to learn to be a “parts changer.” This is the type of convention you attend to become one of the best.
An email I received said it best: “I learned a lot at the convention, and now I’m back at my job and have to deal with all of these not-so-educated guys from other repair shops all over again.” What he means is there are so many variations of the word “mechanic” out there, that a lot of people just lump us all together. It almost sounds like a four-letter word when somebody is at the service counter and says, “My friend already told me what’s wrong because he’s a mechanic just like you.”
In my opinion, what they’re really telling me is their “mechanic” either doesn’t have the tools to perform the necessary repair, or they’ve never taken any training on how to perform the repair.
These are the “mechanics” who give the rest of us in the auto repair industry a bad name. They are the parts changers, guess-and-go repair shops, and the proverbial, “I had the codes checked at the parts store” people. I’m talking about those guys who don’t attend conventions, don’t read the latest technical articles and procedures, don’t keep up with the technology and don’t want any part of learning up-to-date practices — because they either think they already know everything or are too darn stubborn to learn from someone else.
You’re never too old to learn something new.
THE BEST OF THE BEST
The other nice part about attending a convention like Vision is the “meet and greet” aspect. You’re at a convention where like-minded individuals are in attendance; you’re on common ground. They understand the daily grind, the diagnostic and tool issues, the grease and grime, and what it’s like to try to make a living from the underside of a hood. Each of them has a story to tell, and it was commonplace to see techs from different parts of the country get together at the nearest watering hole and share their latest stories. When the evening came to a close, everyone left with a newfound respect for their trade, themselves and the other attendees.
So, there’s a lot more going on at these conventions than classes and sales pitches. It’s a place for the best of the best to meet the rest of the best of the best. I’m never disappointed after spending a few hours with some of the guys and gals at these conventions, and I plan on continuing to do so.
Until we reach a point in the future where all this car knowledge can be surgically implanted, or is taken over by some weird, futuristic robotic controller, attending a few classes to increase your knowledge is very important. Let’s face it; to keep those computers on wheels on the road, it’s going to take the “best of the best.”