Two former Skanska employees with more than 50 years of mechanical experience between them have found a new career path as instructors, and are preparing to begin their first semester teaching at Southwest Colorado Community College this fall.
Bill Kuik has 30 years of mechanical experience and started his career working on helicopters and small airplanes. He is a master mechanic and Automotive Service Excellence (ASE)-certified. Kuik worked on the heavy equipment at Skanska for 11 years.
Joe Jaburg brings 23 years of mechanical experience and has certifications as both an ASE Master and a G1, which is for general maintenance and repair and also most recently worked for Skanska in Cortez.
Last month, Skanska confirmed it was winding down operations in Cortez, as the international construction giant prepares to consolidate its western equipment facilities for its civil operations into one center in California.
For Kuik and Jaberg, the timing of the open teaching positions at SCCC couldn't have been better. Additionally, leading the program is an ideal way for the two to share their acquired knowledge and experience with the younger generation of mechanics.
"We thought it was really exciting, we were all disappointed with what was happening with Skanska, it's a problem for all of Cortez and a really big deal. When I learned that college was looking for two new instructors, it sounded really exciting. We were like a couple kids hooting and hollering. Both of us were dancing on air," said Kuik with a laugh. "It's an opportunity to share what you know and to utilize (experience) in that way is almost the next step from what we were doing."
Jaburg agrees that making the transition from the shop to the classroom is an exciting prospect. Education is a path he's considered in the past, and he says Skanska closing gave him the push he needed to make the leap.
"I'm very excited about it. When I knew Skanska was closing I got a job offer from another place I worked for previously. ... This is something I've wanted to do for a long time," he said. "I'm looking forward to getting some great students and hopefully will get them excited about it."
SCCC's Automotive Service Technology program prepares students for a range of careers in automotive maintenance and repair. The program is accredited by the National Institute for Automotive Technicians Education Foundation, which covers all areas of ASE certification, a vital credential for a modern mechanic.
Students that complete the program receive an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Service Technology and can earn as many as nine certificates and mini-certificates along the way.
Jaburg and Kuik note that the program is ideal not only for new mechanics looking to enter an always-in-demand career, but for seasoned mechanics looking to brush up on new skills. Complete mechanical novices who are interested in learning what's going on under the hood of their car are also welcome.
"We have classes ranging from to basic auto for someone who's never popped their hood before to advanced diagnostics," said Jaburg.
An open house/orientation to provide more information about the program and to give attendees the chance to meet both Jaburg and Kuik will take place 4-7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 10, in Room 101 at the SCCC-West Campus, located at 33057 Hwy. 160, between Mancos and Cortez. Enter on the west side of campus under the "Enrollment" sign.