ANN ARBOR, Mich.-What do you get when you cross three large automotive aftermarket manufacturing companies? One thing is a 17,000-sq.-ft., $1.3 million technical training facility that offers engine- and chassis-related skills courses to technicians from all over the world.
Federal-Mogul Corp.'s Worldwide Training Center in Ann Arbor, which opened in January, is an outgrowth of the company's acquisition in 1992 of the TRW Automotive Aftermarket Division and its purchase a year later of SPX Corp.'s Sealed Power Replacement Division.
The new building is approximately twice the size of the pre-existing training centers of those divisions.
Gary J. Lehman, director of marketing, worldwide aftermarket operation and general manager-NAPA sales, unveiled the center to the media March 9.
To owners of service dealerships, the new center could provide a needed boost to business, said Wayne G. Smith, president of Federal-Mogul's worldwide aftermarket operation.
``Long-term success in the automotive aftermarket requires a dedication to staying abreast of the latest automotive diagnosis and service techniques,'' he said. ``Federal-Mogul has demonstrated its commitment to training excellence with this new center.''
Automotive repair equipment and the techniques needed to use them are changing at a rapid rate, necessitating continuing education for service technicians throughout the field, according to Allen Mytyk, the center's manager of technical training.
Four-wheel alignment training is among Federal-Mogul's programs for repairing a full range of late-model domestic and import vehicles. Offered in 3.5-day sessions of classroom instruction and hands-on experience, the course encompasses spring and suspension troubleshooting, active vehicle suspensions and the use of the latest vehicle alignment equipment. Cost is $175.
Other training courses cover lower engine block rebuilding and the reconditioning of aluminum cylinder heads. Programs in crankshaft repair and heavy-duty chassis alignment are expected to be developed by mid-year, Mr. Mytyk said.
All classes combine in-depth classroom instruction with hands-on training on a variety of vehicle systems. The facility's chassis training lab, for example, features a space-saver lift, chassis diagnostic equipment and computer-based alignment machines.
Class sizes are limited to eight to allow instructors-all ASE-certified-to work one-on-one with students, Mr. Mytyk said. The center is open to all service technicians, even if a dealership does not purchase Federal-Mogul products.
There are a number of reasons service shop owners should consider investing money in technician training, Federal-Mogul employees said. In particular, the training center offers a certificate, good for the amount of tuition, which can be redeemed for Federal-Mogul products by students who have completed a course. The company also arranges special hotel rates for visiting students.
But Federal-Mogul technical trainer Ron Baergen said the decision to send a technician to the school should follow much more basic business logic.
If the training will help a technician perform more efficient work that reduces the number of repair come-backs, he said, the image of that business has been enhanced.
And, if a customer knows the job will be done right the first time, he or she probably won't go to a competitor for service the next time, said Mr. Baergen, who has nine years of training experience with TRW and Federal-Mogul.
For more information, contact: Federal-Mogul Training, 3935 Research Park Drive, Ann Arbor, Mich. 48108; (313) 761-3688.