Partnership paves the road to jobs
The program allows teens to get on-the-job training to supplement their in-school trade education.
By JoANNE VIVIANO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
CANFIELD -- Rick Secrest meticulously drains the oil from a gleaming blue Dyna Low Ride motorcycle in the service area of the Harley-Davidson of Youngstown on Boardman-Canfield Road.
Out in the showroom, his brother Tony is collecting several parts for a do-it-yourself Harley rehauler.
The twins, 18, from Poland, are doing jobs they enjoy. But, more than that, they are moving one step closer to a career they love, they said.
The Secrests are part of a new partnership between Harley-Davidson and the Mahoning County Career & amp; Technical Center. The teens both attend academic and trades classes at the center during the day. In the evening, they take their posts at the dealership.
Their work at Harley-Davidson will give them an advantage when they look for jobs upon graduation, said Dan Kibler, the center's power equipment mechanics instructor.
"They'll get more training than I can provide them because it's on-the-job training," Kibler said. "They'll have some skills to take with them when they walk in the door [of a prospective employer]."
Background: Tom Wronkovich, owner of Harley-Davidson of Youngstown, said he suggested the partnership in response to a growth in motorcycle ridership that created an increased demand for mechanics over the last several years.
"We had a need and they had a need," Wronkovich said. "We need mechanics and they need jobs. We need quality mechanics and we can't find them. ... We need to grow our own."
Kibler said the on-the-job learning is supplemented at the center, where students work on and rebuild engines of all types and sizes.
He has attended the Harley-Davidson factory school in Milwaukee, where he learned more about the engines and also was given four bikes and several motorcycle parts to use in the classroom.
"There's such a huge demand for mechanics," he said. "This is just one more avenue to put students to work."
Wronkovich said growth in the motorcycle industry means he plans to add 10,000 square feet to double the size of his service department. He will increase work bays from seven to 15. His six technicians will need more co-workers.
What youths want: The Secrest brothers hope to become some of those co-workers. The teens grew up with a father and grandfather who were mechanics and owned the former Honda Barn in Poland.
Rick and Tony said their father, Richard, also attended the center when it was the Mahoning County Joint Vocational School, and the twins watched their dad work on Honda motorcycles and other bikes as they grew up. They picked up their father's interest in the trade.
"For some reason, I like working on motors. It's neat to see how they run and how you can get something running and they have so much power." Rick said.
"Not too many people find interest in it because you get oily and dirty. But it doesn't bother me at all. I just grew up into it."