A wide range of training focuses on fixed operations.

Some training projects are quite ambitious. For instance I-CAR, the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair, based in Appleton, WI, is building a new 20,500-sq. ft. technical center.

It will expand technical capabilities and allow for future growth opportunities. The building will include approximately 6,500-sq. ft. of office area, 6,500-sq. ft. of shop space, and a 7,500-sq. ft. warehouse.

Says Tom McGee, I-CAR's technical director, "The ability to have the space to perform repairs in a safe, modern facility are critical for I-CAR to meet the expectations of the industry."

Meanwhile, the Automotive Satellite Television Network - ASTN - offers various long-distance fixed operation training courses.

One of the newest is trainer Chuck Hartle's "The Seven Personality of Parts."

"The dealership parts business seems to be that great unknown," he says. "...The long-term business plan for the typical parts operation can be summed up in a single word: survival."

His course teaches parts managers to be more than "firefighters" putting out the flames of crises. Instead, Mr. Hartle trains managers to be builders of consistent game plans.

He also trains parts managers on how most effectively to use their computer systems.

His program is running regularly on ASTN and is also available on video cassette. For more information call ASTN at 1-800-223-2786, log on www.astn.com or see the monthly ASTN program guide in each issue of Ward's Dealer Business magazine.

Finally, there are various training programs for prospective mechanics. Many such programs are responses to the industry's shortage of service technicians.

Mercedes-Bensz USA (MBUSA) just announced its sponsorship of Automotive Youth Educational Systems Inc., a non-profit group that develops partnerships between dealerships and high schools and vocational schools offering high-quality auto technology programs.

"Mercedes-Benz is committed to this major industry effort to expand the supply of entry-level technicians coming from our high schools," says Paul Halata, president and CEO of MBUSA.

Students apply their auto training during the summer, between junior and senior years, and again part-time during their senior year working in a Mercedes-Benz dealership.

The dealerships take the lead as teachers, helping students not only to develop their technical skills but also to understand what an employer looks for in an employee. Each student is assigned to an experienced retail technician who serves as a mentor.

In the same vein, Workhorse Customer Chassis has expanded its technician training program, boosting its training personnel from two to 13 and increasing the number of training sites.

The more than 100 training sites include community colleges, dealerships and privately owned facilities.

Sessions consist of small groups getting individual attention and hands-on training.

Courses include electronics, advanced electronics, fuel system diagnosis, brake systems and transmission systems. Costs range from $50 to $125 a day.

For more information contact the Workhorse web site at www.workhorsecc.com or call 1-877-294-6773