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  • Last modified 456 days ago (Feb. 23, 2023)

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Biggest car trouble? Finding a mechanic

Staff writer

Hiring skilled help has been difficult for auto repair shops in the county and has become worse.

Hillsboro Ford has had luck trying to find people, but it’s definitely hit and miss, general manager and co-owner Michael Hagen said.

“When you need someone desperately, you can’t find them, and when you don’t need someone, they walk in the door,” he said.

Diesel mechanics and master certified mechanics are hard to find, he said.

The dealership often hires younger applicants and sends them to Ford’s training program.

“We spend all that money getting them trained, and they come back and start a family and want to move to a bigger town,” he said.

Ford tries to help, Hagen said.

Hagen knew when he moved back to Hillsboro that the business would have to invest in training.

His prediction is that businesses that want skilled labor will have to sponsor students in training and hire them when they finish school.

“We’re going to have to fight it,” he said.

Barry Allen, who owns Webster Auto Service, said he also was having a difficult time hiring technicians.

He has only one and is training that person himself.

Customers are having to wait longer to get repairs.

Allen would love to hire more technicians but can’t find them, he said. He’s had some technicians who decided to move to larger towns instead of staying in Marion County.

Reg Hiebert, who owns Hillsboro Body Shop with his wife, Lori, said their business is overwhelmed with work to be done.

“We’re swamped with work because we don’t have enough people to do the work,” he said. “People have to wait weeks or even months.”

The issue of finding skilled people is not new, he said.

“Probably about 15 years ago I put an ad in the newspapers,” he said. “I got seven responses from that ad, and the only person that was qualified didn’t want to drive from Newton over to here.”

Stan Williams, who owns Williams Service in Florence, is fortunate that a lot of his help has been with the company 30 years. They were trained in-house.

But, he said, “I could use one or two more.”

Diagnostic technicians are hard to get, he said.

He blames part of the problem on prevailing attitudes among younger workers.

“Everybody thinks they’re too good to get their hands dirty,” he said. “Good old farm kids are the ones that are hard working.”

A lot of customers ask whether he can get their trucks in right away, but they are having to wait several days.

He’d like to see more young people go to trade school.

“A college degree is not a make-or-break deal for you,” Williams said. “It’s not necessary to succeed in life.”

Last modified Feb. 23, 2023

 

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