Don Sobering has been a licensed auto mechanic for 59 years, and he is darn proud about it.
Addressing the 22 recipients of this year’s Motor Vehicle Industry of Manitoba Scholarships and their families at the Hilton Suites Winnipeg Airport Hotel on June 15, the former president of Sobering Automotive Centre (his eldest son, Jon, and Jon’s wife, Merna, purchased the company in 2006) spoke to the students on the importance of continuous learning.
“You need to continually be taking courses and attending trade shows to keep up to date on the newest tools and technologies,” he said.
This was the third annual awards evening in its present form. This year, the number of $500 and $1,000 scholarships given out was 22 — up considerably from the 12 awarded last year. The criteria, Sobering noted, included high academic achievement, volunteerism in the community and the vision statement each student submitted with his or her application outlining their long-term goals.
The scholarships were handed out to both secondary and post-secondary students, most of whom are working toward their Red Seal designation through Apprenticeship Manitoba. There were two repeat recipients among this year’s crop of students.
This was the third year in a row Ashley Weber was awarded one of the Sobering Auto Electric Ltd. Scholarships. Weber also won a gold medal in collision refinishing at the annual Canadian National Skills Competition (held in Moncton) for the third year in a row.
She will be competing in the International Skills Competition in Dubai next year.
The other repeat scholarship recipient was Raphael Ople, who again received a Manitoba Motor Dealers Association Scholarship.
The other Sobering Auto Electric Ltd. scholarship winners were Bendrine Klassen, Alisa Everett, Maxx Wazney, Andrew Friesen and Calvin Kaartinen.
Winners of the Don and Joyce Sobering Family scholarship were Brayden Robb, Sebastien Fiola and Dessiray Nault, Carissa Ness and Megatron Boultanyshen. The Manitoba Motor Dealers scholarship winners, in addition to Ople, were Dustyn Zacharias, Dominic Feist and Rico Maceda. T
he Manitoba Used Car Dealers Association scholarship winner was Eric Seib. Winners of the Automotive Recyclers of Manitoba Inc. scholarship were Scott Hugill and Chris Maher, and the Automotive Trades Association, Manitoba Inc. scholarship winners were Darryl Merritt and Meghan Connor.
The Adolphus (Mac) McDonald Memorial scholarships were awarded to Jessie Posthumus and Arnel Marasigan. The award is given yearly in honour of the late Mac McDonald, who devoted his life to training and the automotive repair sector. (He died from cancer in 2005.)
Ian Rogers, the scholarship committee chairman, noted Mac Tools doubles the amount of the scholarship for any recipients who come into a Mac Tools store with scholarship in hand.
This was the third year for the Motor Vehicle Industry of Manitoba scholarships in their current incarnation, but they have been given out for the past 13 years — formerly by the Red River Exhibition Foundation. Don and Joyce Sobering founded the scholarship program in 2002 in celebration of the 55th anniversary of their Sobering Auto Electric Ltd. The scholarships reflect Don and Joyce’s ongoing commitment to the practice of apprenticeship training in Manitoba of highly skilled technicians for the motor vehicle industry.
Manitoba Public Insurance came aboard in 2005, followed by the Manitoba Motor Dealers Association in 2006, the Manitoba Used Car Dealers in 2007, the Automotive Trades Association in 2010 and the Automotive Recyclers in 2012. Also in 2012, the scholarship fund board of trustees established the Don and Joyce Sobering Family Scholarships in honour of Don and Joyce.
Speaking on behalf of the newly formed Motor Vehicle Educational Foundation of Manitoba (MVEFM), the evening’s diamond sponsor, Steve Chipman, president of the Birchwood Auto Group, noted the importance auto dealers attach to supporting students who are interested in learning to be automotive technicians. “We need to attract more people to our industry,” he said. “We realize how expensive it is to be an automotive apprentice, and we want to help support deserving students as much as we can.”
Also addressing the students were representatives of Skills Canada Manitoba, Manitoba Public Insurance, the Winnipeg Foundation, Apprenticeship Manitoba and provincial Crown Services Minister Ron Schuler.
“It feels great to be able to help so many well-deserving students to pursue a career in our industry,” said Geoff Sine, executive director of the Manitoba Motor Dealers Association.
“We will continue to work with the industry to strengthen the Motor Vehicle Educational Foundation of Manitoba and create even more scholarship opportunities for students studying automotive trades."
Manitoba’s first Mopar-certified repair facilities
As of June 10, Birchwood Collision Centres are Manitoba’s first and only certified Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, Jeep and Fiat collision-repair facilities. Birchwood Collision Centres are the province’s largest MPI-accredited, state-of-the-art vehicle-repair body shops.
“Our exclusive Mopar certification means that Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, Jeep and Fiat owners can trust Birchwood Collision Centres to repair your vehicle to the highest safety standards,” says Arthur Crawford, director of Birchwood Collision Centres.
“Your safety, warranty, and peace of mind are of utmost importance when it comes to the repair of your vehicle. At Birchwood, we get it. Being in an accident is a stressful time, and we do everything in our power to make it less so. Manufacturers trust us to repair your vehicle to their highest quality and safety standards through certifications, and you can, too.”
Designated I-CAR Gold Class, Birchwood Collision Centres hold numerous manufacturer certifications, including: BMW, MINI, Volvo, Honda, Acura, Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Toyota, Lexus, Scion and now Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, Jeep and Fiat.
Birchwood Automotive Group opened its first collision repair centre in Pointe West Autopark in 1999. A second location just off Regent Avenue was added in 2006.
In addition to continually purchasing and maintaining state-of-the-art equipment and technology, Birchwood focuses on recruitment, training and retention of top talent in the repair industry.