Keep On Rockin’ Into The New Year

Keep On Rockin’ Into The New Year

We're still accepting nominations for the next Vehicle Care Rockstar.

True story: Last night, I was at a Japanese Hibachi-style restaurant with my family. Our chef was chopping, dicing, slicing, sauteeing and generally wowing the entire table with his knife and spatula skills when I noticed him paying less attention to the steak and shrimp on the griddle before him than to the shirt I was wearing.

“ShopOwner, huh?” he said, pointing at the logo on my button-down, giving a knowing nod, while twirling a razor sharp knife inches from his face. “You know, I can do this with wrenches, too.”

Turns out, our Hibachi Shokunin (skilled professional) only moonlights as an Iron Chef – during the daylight hours, he’s a technician at a local repair shop. 

As the dinner show progressed, he explained how he liked performing under the lights of the grill area to the applause of his patrons, all of whom (myself included) are convinced we could do the same thing if we only had the right equipment. But what he LOVED doing, he said, was working behind the scenes in a bay, diagnosing driver complaints, slinging his wrenches, with the only praise coming from a engine roaring back to life or a brake system becoming silent once more.

The dude was, in short, a RockStar.

As you are no doubt aware, we’ve been celebrating the RockStars of our industry throughout 2023. ShopOwner, as well as the other Babcox Media properties have been profiling today’s most dynamic performers across the vehicle care industry – individuals who, in power chord parlance, rock! 

Vehicle Care RockStars promises to honor today’s vehicle care professionals held in the highest esteem for their accomplishments, leadership, innovations — and other intangibles that distinguish their work in specific industry categories. They’re visionaries and influencers in all the following markets: Aftermarket Distribution & Repair, Tire Dealers & Distributors, Transmission, Collision Repair, Heavy Duty, New Car Dealers, Powersports, Performance, Car Wash, and Tools & Equipment. 

We’ve been telling the stories of the inaugural class of RockStars this year. Honorees have included shop-owning congresswoman Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, advocating for Right To Repair on Capitol Hill; tire dealer Tim Winkeler, who involves his team in every major business decision; Zach Stroud, manager of a large chain of car washes in the Home of Rock and Roll, who understands that the show must ALWAYS go on; Marie Robinson, executive president and chief supply chain officer with Sysco, who makes sure the catering is always perfect; engine builder Luke Wilson; collision repair expert Michael Bradshaw; and our own shop owner Johnny Weber. One theme has been consistent in every instance – the harmony of industry knowledge and individual effort is critical.

Yeah, each of us could probably be just as successful as these star performers if we had the right equipment – guess what? We do. All it takes is the same dedication to the craft. 

We’re still accepting nominations at, so if you are ready to show your skills on the big stage (or you know someone else who’s ready for the spotlight), let us know. There is plenty of room in front of the crowd if you’re ready to shine. 

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There are many ways you can help play the long game, and TechForce has free resources to help inspire and promote the profession.

Let’s start  with the bad news – get right into it, Band-Aid style.

There is likely to be a shortfall of more than 800,000 techs to serve the motoring public over the next five years.

Of course, that not really “news,” at least not of the breaking variety. We’ve been wrestling with numbers like these for decades – the information that fewer students are coming out of school trained to be or at least excited about being part of this industry has been on a lot of minds for a very long time.

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