From the CEO - August - 2021

Can You Keep a Secret?

ATRA’s Powertrain Expo is only two months away, and I can’t wait to see my friends and colleagues. Each year, we hold a Member meeting, where we share ideas, new projects, and work from the previous year. We get a lot of feedback from members on what they’d like to see ATRA work on and a general sense of how we’re doing. It’s a meeting that we always look forward to.

This year is no different. We have exciting news to share, but I’m going to bust if I don’t tell someone. So, if you can keep a secret, I’ll share it with you. But it has to stay between you and me.

The first bit of news is that ATRA is moving. That’s right. After 67 years, ATRA is moving from California to Texas, specifically to San Antonio. It’s been a months-long project, and we have a building that’ll serve as the new business office, with plenty of room for the growth we have planned. As you’re reading this, the architects, engineers, and contractors are busy re-designing the building for our future use. They’re moving walls and building the infrastructure to house the ATRA team with a modern-day office, tech center, studio for video and photography, and even a large meeting room for seminars and other training events. And the property is large enough to build a second tech center for future expansion. Our move-in target is early 2022. It’s pretty exciting, but that’s just the beginning.

During the member meeting, we’ll also share the plans for what we’re calling “The ATRA University Project.” The idea began to take form during the spring of 2020. Back then, schools across the country, and indeed, all over the world, were closed due to COVID. This included tech schools.

Most of these schools are active in ATRA’s VTS (Virtual Training Solutions) portal on the ATRA Member website: members.atra.com/lightspeed. Several instructors began offering the virtual training from ATRA to complete the semester. This was exciting news.

It got even better after learning that students graduated from their courses, as planned, due to the training they received from ATRA. It was a prideful moment for us and the birth of a much broader plan.

The plan is somewhat involved, but the essence of it is simple. Locate technical schools across the US and Canada and enroll them and their students into the virtual training portal. Simple enough.

Then, engage with member shops in the area to establish the training they need that would make the graduates from those schools more hireable. It also benefits existing employees from shops in the area to make them more productive. The essence of it is to help ATRA members fix more cars and better satisfy their customers. And isn’t that why ATRA exists in the first place?

As this idea took shape, we soon realized that we could find grant funding to help pay for student training and placement. We were amazed at the amount of funding available for just such a project. But it’ll require a detailed plan with milestones and expected results.

Well, I shared a bit more with you than I originally planned. Remember, it’s our secret until the member meeting in October. We’ll go over more of the plan and ask members to help find technical schools in their area as candidates for the new project. I can’t wait, and I look forward to seeing you there.