The five finalists in the nonprofit TechForce Foundation's 2019 Techs Rock Awards are now competing in an online, people’s choice award vote that will run through Friday, Dec. 6 at 5 p.m. EST.
The five finalists were winners in their respective categories. The categories and the winners are:
- Pay It Forward: Jason Katzenberger, Kunes Country Ford, Delavan, Wis.
- Rookie of the Year: Melina Algier, Farnsworth Chevrolet, Canandaigua, N.Y.
- Die Hard Tech: Christopher Owen, R.M. Burritt Motors, Oswego, N.Y.
- Outstanding Mentor: Michael Owens, Fullerton Ford, Somerville, N.J.
- Barrier Buster: Samantha Britton, Billy Howell Lincoln Ford, Cumming, Ga.
These five category winners now compete in an online, people’s choice award vote that will run through Friday, Dec. 6 at 5 p.m. EST.
The public can vote at techforce.org/vote.
The grand prize winner will receive roundtrip airfare and hotel accommodations to Scottsdale, Ariz., to enjoy Arizona Auto Week 2020 and be honored at the annual TechForce Foundation Summit.
The Techs Rock Awardsrecognize working technicians who are striving to mentor and inspire the next generation of technicians, bringing excellence to their workplaces and communities, and demonstrating passion and commitment to the profession.
"Our country’s technicians are skilled professionals who also give generously of their time and talent –both at work and in their communities– to inspire the next generation of qualified technicians,” says Jennifer Maher, executive director of TechForce Foundation.
“They deserve our appreciation and recognition. We are pleased to see women win two categories this year as we continue to raise awareness around their capable contributions.”
TechForce Foundation’s panel of industry judges included Bogi Lateiner, Bogi’s Garage; Greg Rintala, Snap-on Tools; Lyn St. James, racecar criver; Tommy and Stephanie Pike, Tommy Pike Customs; and Julia Landauer, NASCAR Driver. Each celebrity judge selected a category winner, who will receive a TechForce $1,000 tool voucher sponsored by Snap-on.
About the 2019 TechForce Foundation Techs Rock Award winners:
“Pay it Forward” Category Winner: Jason Katzenberger - Kunes Country Ford in Delavan, Wis.
Why Jason was nominated: “As a diesel tech, most of his clients rely on their vehicles for work and can't necessarily get a loaner or rental. Jason often stays late, comes in early and works through his lunch breaks to ensure customers vehicles are completed when they need to be. When a customer could not afford their repairs, Jason talked to the dealership owner and arranged to repair the vehicle without being paid for his work as long as the dealership covered the parts cost. Jason even stayed late to complete the repair. He not only loves his work, he genuinely cares for his community.”
“Rookie of the Year” Category Winner: Melina Algier – Farnsworth Chevrolet in Canandaigua, N.Y.
Why Melina was nominated: "Melina joined the shop a year and a half ago and is the first female technician in the dealership. She quickly graduated from maintenance work to a line technician. In 12 months she has completed over 70 GM certified courses and is now ready to start testing for ASE certifications. Melina has broken a lot of stereotypes around the industry being only for men. She is a wonderful example of dedication and pursuing the career that you want, not the one others think you should have..."
“Die Hard Tech” Category Winner: Christopher Owen – R.M. Burritt Motors in Oswego, N.Y.
Why Christopher was nominated: “Chris has been employed at Burritt Chevrolet-Buick, for 10 years. In that time he has risen to the top of the ranks. He holds the highest long-term production average of any employee, and will soon achieve World Class Technician (WCT) status. Chris is an excellent mentor to our apprentice technicians. He is sparking a passion for production and education in the next generation. Chris has participated in EVERY employee volunteer day available, and is typically the one leading the charge.
“Outstanding Mentor” Category Winner: Michael Owens – Fullerton Ford in Somerville, N.J.
Why Michael was nominated: “Over his 30 years as a member of the Fullerton Ford team Michael has shown leadership and compassion. He is always there for anyone that needs guidance, and leads the team by example. For the past 20 years Michael is the main technician that trains all the new hires. He is always willing to help and also willing to learn. He is a very positive influence. Michael has a calm way of helping new employees, and will always stop what he doing to help somebody else…”
“Barrier Buster” Category Winner: Samantha Britton – Billy Howell Lincoln Ford in Cumming, Ga.
Why Samantha was nominated: “Samantha is the only female technician in our dealership. She started her career 13 years ago as a porter, and is now one of our lead technicians. She has a tireless attitude toward growing our younger technicians' knowledge and abilities. …She has eclipsed the barrier that female technicians often face in this industry and has earned the respect of her peers and co-workers through her outstanding work ethic and attitude. She shares in her team’s success and failures, and puts the needs of the team in front of her own.”
To learn more about the 2019 Techs Rock Awards, please visit: www.TechForce.org/TechsRock
About TechForce Foundation
TechForce Foundation is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) with the mission to champion students to and through their technical education and into careers as professional technicians. TechForce awards more than $2 million in scholarships and grants annually, thanks to its generous corporate sponsors and donors, and spearheads FutureTech Success, the industry-wide initiative to encourage and support more young people to pursue the vehicle technician profession. For more information, visit techforce.org.