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Haydocy Automotive Named Innovative Dealerships by Hocking College
Ohio dealer helps train technicians to fix green cars. Chris Haydocy is driving force behind college's $3.2 million education center.
Ohio dealer helps train technicians to fix green cars Chris Haydocy is a driving force behind college's $3.2 million educational center Laura Clark Geist Automotive News | October 13, 2008 - 12:01 am EST Lifelong environmentalist and second-generation car dealer Chris Haydocy likes to compare the benefits of dual-mode hybrid, E85 flex-fuel, propane and natural-gas vehicles for customers at his two Ohio dealerships. He doesn't worry about whether he will be able to sell General Motors' growing fleet of green vehicles, including the Chevrolet Volt in 2010, at Haydocy Chevrolet-Cadillac-Buick in Bucyrus and Haydocy Pontiac-Buick-GMC in Columbus. His biggest concern is making sure he has enough trained technicians to fix them. "When you start talking about lithium ion batteries and 300 volts and, potentially, fuel cells and hydrogen, it's a different technician than my dad had in his day," says Haydocy, 50. His late father, Paul, founded the Columbus store in 1954. "The Volt is going to change the DNA of the automobile as we know it, and we need technicians that will also be able to deal with this change of DNA," Haydocy says.
Chris HaydocyAge: 50 Dealerships: Haydocy Pontiac-Buick-GMC, Columbus, Ohio; Haydocy Chevrolet-Cadillac-Buick, Bucyrus, Ohio 2007 unit sales: 789 new, 743 used at Haydocy Pontiac-Buick-GMC; 191 new, 208 used at Haydocy Chevrolet-Cadillac-Buick (5 months of operation) Idea: He helped develop a green technician program at a community college that trains students to service alternative-fuel vehicles.
Higher-tech techsThat's why he helped develop a new educational center at Hocking College, a community college near Columbus, to train incoming technicians on alternative-fuel technology. In 2009, the college will open a $3.2 million Energy Institute in Logan, Ohio. "In 10 years, more than 50 percent of all vehicles will be powered by alternative fuels or hybrids. We've got to catch up on the service end," says Haydocy, whose interest in conservation dates back to his middle school ecology club in the early 1970s. "The institute is not for the people who design the alternative-energy systems. It's for the blue-collar worker that will be involved in fixing them." When presidential hopeful Barack Obama stopped at Hocking in March, the Illinois senator talked about renewable energy as a job generator. The idea for the institute came in 2002 when Haydocy and friend Luther Liggett, a Columbus attorney, discussed the number of businesses closing in the blue-collar neighborhood around Haydocy's Columbus dealership. Behind his store sits a shuttered Delphi Corp. plant. Haydocy worried about how he was going hire and train enough technicians who knew hybrid technologies. Both men wondered how Ohio could attract green industries and retrain the state's work force. Two weeks later, Liggett and Haydocy met over lunch with John Light, president of Hocking College. Within a year, an advisory board had hired former Hocking Professor Jerry Hutton to design an academic approach. In 2004, Hocking began offering a course in alternative energy and fuel cells and later added classes in automotive hybrid technology. Soon a single classroom was clearly inadequate to meet student demand. The program needed a separate building with multiple classrooms and laboratories to teach students how to work on advanced fuel system technology. Last year Hocking established the Hocking College Energy Institute and broke ground on a 12,000-square-foot building in Logan, 16 miles from the main campus. The institute, due to open next fall, will have offices, classrooms and advanced-fuel laboratories for 250 daytime students. That number does not include students taking night and online courses. "We want to take the 18-year-old who is good with his hands and teach him or her about personal finance, economics and a well-rounded education with the focus on alternative energy," says Haydocy, who sits on the institute's advisory board. The Hocking College Energy Institute offers two-year associate's degrees in applied sciences for alternative-energy fuel cells and in automotive hybrid technology. Haydocy's service department already has employed an intern from the program. Haydocy hopes to hire five to 10 interns a year and is encouraging other dealers to participate.
Internships needed"We're trying to get dealers of several manufacturers to allow students to train with them for a few weeks," he says. "I guarantee that every student who comes out of the automotive hybrid program, the industry is going to be looking for them." In fact, after graduation, Haydocy's former intern was hired by a maker of ceramics for fuel cells. Although the focus of the institute is to train students coming out of high school who want to become technicians, it can serve current technicians, too. Hutton, the former Hocking College professor, says technicians from independent service shops, which don't offer factory training on advanced-fuel vehicles, are coming to the institute for training. In the future, Haydocy hopes that students interested in becoming automotive technicians will have access to all manufacturers' Web-based training courses at the institute. Currently, that training is offered only to technicians who are employed at a dealership. Says Haydocy: "In the future, you are going to see advanced-fuels-specific technicians like specialists in front-end or transmission work." Check out the Automotive Hybrids course at Hocking College