PHOENIX — Riley Schlick-Trask already is rocking it as business owner. Now she is rocking it as the grand prize winner of TechForce's 2023 Rock Awards.
Schlick-Trask, who operates a carburetor-rebuilding business, Riley's Rebuilds, in Bradenton, Fla., becomes the first independent shop professional to win the top honor in the Techs Rock Awards program.
College-bound Schlick-Trask, 18, received thousands of votes from TechForce followers from among five category winners in the June 12 -16 People's Choice public vote. She previously won the Barrier Buster category.
As grand prize winner, Schlick-Trask will receive more than $10,000 in prizes from TechForce and its industry partners. Prize sponsors include Advance Auto Parts; AutoZone Inc., Cengage Learning Inc.; CRC Industries Americas Group; Ford Motor Co.; Nissan North America Inc.; Snap-on Inc.; and WD-40 Co.
Schlick-Trask said she is excited and grateful to be declared the winner.
"I'm fortunate to be blessed with the industry's support and to have a platform thanks to that support," she said. "I'm super happy to be the grand prize winner, and I'm in awe of my fellow category winners."
According to TechForce, Schlick-Trask began restoring carburetors at age 13 to earn money to purchase her first car. Her business took off when she turned to social media to find parts to meet her clients' needs.
She has been featured in more than 50 publications, appeared on local and national television and built an online following.
"Riley is using this opportunity and her brand … to inspire a host of other young women to see this industry as one of growing opportunity and incredible support," wrote her Techs Rock Awards nominator.
TechForce Executive Director Jennifer Maher said the non-profit is committed to powering the technician workforce.
"The Techs Rock Awards bring the mobility industry together to support the next generation, change the public perception of these high-tech STEM careers, and celebrate today's leaders," Maher said. "Each winner is full of passion and grit, exhibits true excellence, and inspires the next generation of techs. We are proud to celebrate their contributions."
Previous Techs Rock grand prize winners include Daniel McCrum of CarMax in 2022; Donald Ranquist of CarMax in 2021; Melina Algier of Farnsworth Chevrolet in 2019; and Michael Cole of Kunes Ford of Delevan in 2018.
TechForce partners have awarded more than $18,500 in prizes this year. Each category winner gets prizes valued at more than $1,900 from TechForce partners.
The grand prize winner also receives an all-expenses-paid trip to STX 2024 in Nashville, valued at $3,000, courtesy of Advance Auto Parts, and additional prizes valued at $6,000 from AutoZone, CRC Industries, Ford Motor Co., Nissan, Snap-on Industrial, and WD-40 Company.
Celebrity judges selected the five category winners from hundreds of nominated technicians.
Judges include Bogi Lateiner, Bogi's Garage; Harrison Burton, Wood Brothers Racing; Emily Reeves, Flying Sparks Garage; Pete Meier, Dorman Products; and Camrie Caruso, Camrie Caruso Motorsports.
The category winners are:
- Barrier Buster: Schlick-Trask.The category recognizes technicians for showing heart and passion in overcoming obstacles to succeed.
- Die Hard: Bryan Kuehni, world class technician, Advantage Chevrolet Bolingbrook. The category recognizes industry superfans who live, breathe, sleep and thrive in their career.
- Outstanding Mentor: James Jacobsen, master technician, Lake Motor Co. The category recognizes technicians for supporting and guiding the industry's future techs.
- Pay it Forward: Bradley Hindman, owner, Mission Auto Repair. The category recognizes technicians for being community advocates and inspiring the next generation of techs.
- Rookie of the Year: Jinelee Galindez, technician, Mercedes-Benz of South Orlando. The category recognizes up-and-coming tech professionals with under two years of professional experience.
Since 2018 the Techs Rock Awards have awarded more than $65,000 in prizes to 25 professional technicians in recognition of their excellence, passion and commitment to driving the future of the mobility industry., TechForce said.
Nissan and Infinti are co-sponsoring the 2023 Techs Rock Awards to help TechForce celebrate all technicians' contributions throughout the country and the industry.
The awards are part of TechForce's workforce development campaign to inspire and support tomorrow's workforce of technicians.