After more than thirty years, GM’s Mr. Goodwrench has retired.
Mr. Goodwrench was originally created to put a friendly face on your local GM service technician, promoting quality and efficient service and repairs. His retirement hit home with me because I was Mr. Goodwrench for thirty years!
My work as a GM service technician began in 1981, just about the time Mr. Goodwrench was born. Over the years I have seen the “good” (yes, contrary to popular belief, some GM models were, and still are, very good), the “bad” (yes, some were bad, but most were not as bad as people think), and the “ugly” (I have my opinions, but I will let you decide that for yourself).
When I started as a technician, computers were just starting to find their way into our automobiles. At that time, most of the senior technicians did not want to get involved with all this “computer stuff.” As a result, it was mostly the younger technicians like me who went through all the specialized training to learn how to diagnose and repair these electronic systems. Years of training and experience gave me, and those like me, the ability to diagnose and repair these electronic systems as they became more and more complex.
This brings me be back to the significance of the retirement of Mr. Goodwrench. For various reasons, my generation of technicians is migrating away from the automotive repair business, retiring from the business along with Mr. Goodwrench. The result of this could be a severe lack of technicians who are qualified and able to diagnose and repair cars and trucks.
I say this because of what I have seen in my career. In my opinion, the younger technicians have not embraced learning the electronic systems the way the Mr. Goodwrench generation did, much the same as the seniors technicians did not embrace the technology back in the early 1980s.
Where we go from here, I am not sure—only time will tell. It is my feeling that significant changes will be needed in the automotive repair industry in order to recruit and train our future repair technicians … and time is running short. I can only hope that industry leaders will see the light and begin the process of change.
As you can see, the retirement of Mr. Goodwrench represents more that just the end of a marketing tool. It represents the retirement of a generation of technicians we have come to rely on to repair our cars and trucks.