The 20-week general curriculum centers on efficiency in maintenance and light repairs, which represent the majority of repair orders.
"The average car on the road is 11-plus years old, so there's big demand for efficient maintenance and repair work," he said. "We stay true to where the work is."
Allowing students to apply immediately what they learn is a critical program component. It gives them the confidence and proficiency to "move their tools into a shop and use them to the benefit of a shop," Mr. Peugeot said.
Matrix also gives students the tools to succeed — literally. The $16,500 tuition for the 600-hour basic course, which students attend in person daily for half a day, includes a full set of tools and a tool cart valued at about $3,000.
"You can't teach someone to play golf for 20 weeks, then give them golf clubs and expect them to play well," he noted. "At Matrix, we give you the tools on day one, and you'll have blisters on day two.
"But we're not tearing down engines while wearing NASCAR uniforms," he added. "We focus on things that help students feel valued and make money."
Another unique aspect is the course structure. Because students — 75% of whom have no technician experience — attend only part time, they can work in the afternoons at either a job or an internship. To keep the student-teacher ratio at about 8-to-1, Matrix limits enrollment to 25 students per 20-week session.
In addition, each work bay in the 20,000-sq.-ft. shop is equipped with a time clock. That way, as students apply what they just learned, they get a feel for their own labor time versus a prescribed flat-rate time, Mr. Peugeot said.
For more specialized training, where experienced technicians can upgrade their skills, Matrix offers efficiency "boot camps." Each of the five available sessions costs $3,000 and includes 30 hours of training split into 10 three-hour afternoon sessions over two weeks. This allows students to keep working part time while attending school, he said.
Up-skill training that enables technicians to advance is critical to employee retention, Mr. Peugeot said.
"The auto repair industry has to evolve to retain people who want to get into the field, not just complain that millennials don't want to be technicians," he asserted. "These boot camps give dealerships a lever to pull to put people on career tracks."
By January, two years after classes started, Mr. Peugeot said he expects to have 100 graduates of the 20-week course. Another 125 will have graduated from various boot camps, he said.
Bill Housholder, director of fixed operations at Ganley Automotive Group in Cleveland, said Matrix fills a valuable niche but can't completely replace other training options.
"But you can definitely feel there's something different about Matrix," he said. "It's a very high-energy atmosphere and a state-of-the-art operation. Their whole outlook is different."
He noted that about a half-dozen Ganley technicians have attended Matrix, for which the group reimburses tuition in exchange for certain commitments from the techs. "We feel we're getting a good return on our investment."
Ganley technicians could train and mentor young technicians, but that's usually not the best use of their time, Mr. Housholder said.
"We're not in the training business; we're in the auto repair business," he said. "We let people that are good at teaching do the teaching while we concentrate on what we're good at."