SANFORD, Maine – Linda Zuke at Weirs Buick GMC put her money where her mouth is.
“I just want kids to be excited about getting into the trades before they graduate,” she said. “I walked into SRTC – and everything is clear and bright and shiny and new – and I said, ‘This is awesome! “”
The Arundel auto dealership and body shop recently donated $25,000 to the Sanford Regional Technical Center through the Sanford Schools Legacy Foundation. His course is now called the Weirs Buick GMC Automotive Collision Repair Program.
And, of course, Weirs also helped get the department started before the new school opened in 2017 with a major donation to the automotive technology program.
The future starts locally at the Sanford Regional Technical Center.
“The idea of wanting to support SRTC started because we need to understand how we involve children in the trades,” said Zuke, principal dealer and owner of Weirs. “Staffing is a serious and serious issue here and across the country. I have to do something. I need technicians! We have to feed the technical schools with high school children, who then supply our stores. »
She and Weirs Collision Center Director Bob Bernard were also inspired by their recent hire, Amer Oglah, a graduating class of 2021 from Sanford High School. He was a trades student at the Regional Technical Center and Weirs hired him right out of high school as an apprentice.
“His work ethic comes from home, but his passion for work comes from school,” Zuke said. “They come out of there and they have an interest and a base with a bit of technical savvy, but then they have to be fully trained. We need more kids to come out of school like him.
SRTC manager Kathy Sargent said they needed more supporters like Weirs. Technical equipment and real industry supplies come at a huge cost, which is why donors are key to the program’s success.
“We are extremely grateful for our partnership with Weirs, which has not only resulted in valuable sponsorship of two SRTC programs, but also employment opportunities for our students,” Sargent said. “Companies like Weirs understand the importance of providing state-of-the-art equipment and education to students so they can become our indispensable workforce of the future.”
Bernard said the 18-year-old arrived with tremendous drive and a strong work ethic.
“It’s really refreshing to have someone who is so enthusiastic about learning the trades; he has a passion for his work,” Bernard said. “We need to let kids know these options are available.”
Bernard, who first took the college route as a teenager only to find himself with enormous student debt, is also passionate about leading children to promising careers. “It’s an industry where they can write their own ticket. It’s a very well paid job, and it’s not just “a job” either. I told him that if you stay in the industry, you’ll have a job forever.
The time has also come for the next generation. “We need to get kids interested in trades now,” Zuke said, “because there’s an older population right now, with no one to replace them. The median age at Weirs is over 40, and who will replace them when they retire? »
“I have to do something to encourage young people to think about trades. It’s a start, but I don’t think it’s enough.
That’s where teachers come in, like Jason Brown, who helped pique Oglah’s interest in body work, especially painting.
“As an instructor, I really appreciate Weirs, his generosity and genuine interest in the trades and especially the Auto Collision program here at SRTC,” Brown said. “The connection made with Bob at the Weirs body shop through hiring students has been a very positive experience for the students and myself, and I look forward to continuing in the future. Thank you all Weirs staff for making this possible.