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SEMA Brings Together Automotive Students and Employers for 2nd Career Day

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There's plenty of talk about the shortage of technicians in the industry. The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) is working to bridge the gap, and help students get their start.

For the second year, SEMA kicked off its pre-SEMA Show activities with a student career day. Forty-seven companies registered and spent two hours on Monday afternoon meeting face-to-face with students who hope to find a career in the automotive industry.

That includes students like Tanner Buckbee. The 19-year-old is a sophomore at Northwood University. He has his eyes on a career in the aftermarket, but is especially interested in the tire industry.

Why tires? Buckbee says he believes they offer "more longevity" than any other product or segment of the industry.

His dream employer is Toyo Tire U.S.A Corp. He says he appreciates Toyo's marketing and the partnerships with other companies it forges. He also watches them in the race spectrum, and wants to work for a company that competes across all fronts, including racing.

"It's who they work with," Buckbee says, about what separates Toyo from other companies.

Buckbee's preferred tire company didn't participate in the student career day, but Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations LLC did.

Bob Riegel is manager of retail education for Bridgestone's consumer tire sales division in the U.S. and Canada. Riegel says he was a one-man show at the company's booth for the inaugural career day in 2016. This year he brought reinforcements -- three managers from Bridgestone's retail operations in Las Vegas.

He says Bridgestone is looking to fill 3,000 job openings in its retail stores.

Dana Wobser, director of human resources for Myers Industries Inc., says the company's participation in the 2016 career day led to one direct hire. But it also was the start to a new partnership with Northwood University.

This year Wobser is looking to fill customer service, outside sales and sales training positions.

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