Private equity: ‘jet fuel’

Speaking at the IBIS Global Summit 2017 Jeff McFadden, president of Service King described private equity investment as the ‘jet fuel’ which accelerated its people development programmes.

In his session, Apprentices and the skills gap, Jeff gave an insight into his career progression declaring himself as a ‘shop guy’ who started out on the shopfloor working his way to president of one of the world’s largest collision repair businesses. Today, Service King operates 324 locations in 24 states across the US.

Jeff provided delegates with an insight into the Apprentice Development Porgramme, a long term vision of Service King CEO Chris Abraham. Jeff explained how the programme, which officially launched in 2015, was created to support growth momentum and ‘inspire and equip repair technicians for successful careers within the collision repair industry.’

Highlighting industry data which shows how the average age of technicians is last 10 years has increased by 13%, along with a 23% reduction in the technician population. With this Jeff spoke of elements which helped drive the development of the programme: the need; the inspiration; the crossroads – ‘private equity was the jet fuel’; and the solution – ‘we build talent from the ground up. The intern programme gives us opportunity.’

He continued, ‘it’s very inspiring to be able to change lives.’

Jeff spoke of his Team Mates at Service King and highlighted the story of Al Scott, the man who now heads up the 52 week apprentice programme in which technicians are taught how to do it properly before any expectation to perform is placed upon them.

Discussing the elements of success, Jeff described how the programme was built around ‘localising’ and ‘the most important thing’ the indepth curriculum which he said, ‘we believe that alone adds some concrete.’

Jeff highlighted how the programme has developed starting out in year one with 15 supervisors and 51 apprentice technicians, and by year three has 48 supervisors, 136 apprentice technicians and 127 graduates.

Jeff suggested attrition ‘is the hard part’ with industry norms highlighting one in every seven technicians leaving their roles with 60% of those leaving for another bodyshop. In comparison he highlighted how the Service King programme sees one in 11 leave their role and none leaving for other bodyshop.

Jeff said, ‘We are very proud of teaching our people to be good technicians as well as good citizens.’

In closing Jeff quoted Service King founder Eddie Lennox, who said, ‘The greatest reward in life is helping others and paying it forward.’

The IBIS Global Summit 2017 is partnered by 3M, AkzoNobel, Audatex, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Fix Auto World.

The event is taking place at the Meliá Castilla hotel in Madrid, Spain on 12-14 June 2017.