35 years ago, a 19-inch color TV cost $399, the word “internet” was publicly mentioned, and Tom Nordlund began his career at Miller Auto Plaza. The world was pretty different back then, and vehicles were no exception. In our second installment of our Meet a Tech Series, Tom Nordland shares some insights he’s gathered as a lifelong auto technician.
Tom is an ASE Certified auto technician who works in the GM Service Shop. His career in the auto industry started when he was just a young boy, sweeping the floor of his dad’s repair shop after school and on Saturday mornings. He and his six brothers grew up learning everything there was to learn about vehicles and vehicle maintenance from their father.
Our Miller Auto Tech’s Background
Although being grandfathered into the auto tech trade is a little less common nowadays, Tom didn’t learn the trade from classroom instruction; it was all hands on. As a Miller Auto tech, Tom relies on his fellow technicians. “In the shop, your fellow technicians are your best asset. You can always go around and ask questions anytime. There’s so many things going on, we all share knowledge. We learn by each other.”
And, in their industry, learning is a constant. While the mechanics and structural elements of vehicles haven’t changed too drastically, there are many more electronics and gadgets. So much is powered, from Bluetooth to videos. “35 years ago that wasn’t what the mechanic was for – you sent that stuff to the electronic store, not the service shop.”
The Changing Auto Industry
Because vehicles have more software and electronics, Tom uses a lot of specialized equipment. “We run diagnostics and have a laptop to communicate with the each vehicle's computer. Most of our regular training is about new technology and software. It’s changing all the time.”
All the changes and the trainings certainly keep the Miller Auto techs from getting bored. “People get tired of doing the same thing every day, I wouldn’t last long in a job like that. It gets old quick.” A lot of the vehicles Tom services are warrantied GM vehicles. As a result, Miller Auto Plaza “makes it a priority that we have the new diagnostic tools and any tools we need to get the job done and get the job done right.”
Words of Wisdom from Tom
On his favorite part of his job: “Going home with a sense of accomplishment.”
On advice for new techs: “Try it. See if you like it, if you can handle it, if you want to stay with it. There’s so many things you can specialize in.”