DISALTED SACRIFICE – Collision Repair Magazine

Success is not a straight path – ask Jamie Gray

In late 2021, Assured Automotive presented Jamie Gray, a graduate student in Fanshawe College’s 310B program, with the Jerome D’Silva Memorial Award. Typically, awards are given to those who are most successful in their field; and although Jamie graduated with a GPA of 3.84, the primary legacy of this award revolves around the values ​​of honesty, integrity and respect the recipient displays among their peers and community. The story of Jamie entering our industry is humbling, and every day he makes sacrifices to support those around him. From a young age, Jamie says his mother was downright honest and did her best to prepare him for life. He knew that if he wanted to go to college, he would have to blaze that trail himself.

Jamie had been interested in collision repair since he was a child. Influenced by his father, a body technician, and his uncle, a painter. Facing a huge challenge at 16, Jamie was forced to drop out of school and find a career. After working in various roles, he found a job as a tow truck driver, where he stayed for ten years. But Jamie still wanted to get into auto body repair.

It was getting to a point where Jamie would be on a drop off mission and asked if he knew of any techs looking for jobs. Finally, Jamie asked – what do I have to do to become a technician? Bill and Ben Weir, the owner and manager of a local collision center, had known Jamie for several years and knew the strength of his work ethic. They explained to Jamie that he would need his GED and advised him to follow a three-tier program to become a technician. They would support him by taking him on as an apprentice to complete the practical experience part. All seemed well for Jamie, but there was a small problem: he needed his high school diploma and the full-time school did not allow him to work at the same time.

At this point, Jamie turned to his partner, Charlotte, to see if they could take on the challenge together. She would be the only one working, and their family was about to grow – not one, but four; the couple had just completed adopting four siblings, ages six to 15, in addition to already having one child. Jamie and Charlotte felt that if they really wanted to move their family forward, they should take a step back. In 2020, Jamie enrolled in Fanshawe College’s 310B program.

Tragedy struck soon after when Charlotte’s sister fell ill and died. She had a four-year-old son, whom Jamie and Charlotte welcomed without hesitation. They became a family of eight. For the next year and a half, Jamie focused on completing his required training. He had a passion for the job in addition to support on all fronts: at school, at home from his family, and from Bill and Ben.

And Jamie’s advice to anyone considering getting into collision repair? “Don’t think too much about it, take the leap. If you have a passion for it, you will make it work.