Blake Harms,
Auto Technician
Employed by Carmedix, in Durham, North Carolina

How long have you worked as an Auto Technician?

Blake started working out in the field in 2008 after graduating from Durham Technical College.

Did you take Shop in High School?
No. Blake thought he wanted to go into the industrial design field, so he took academic classes in high school. But he spent all his free time wrenching on his own vehicles.

“My first car that I drove while attending high school was a 1996 BMW 325i that I quickly modified and made my own. I changed the suspension to lower the vehicle, installed an exhaust system, and did tons of maintenance/repairs such as spark plugs and brakes. I installed a full sound system in the doors and trunk with an amplifier, upgraded headlights and taillights. I had it tricked out! All at the age of 16. That was the beginning of my passion!”

Why did you decide to become an auto technician?
After high school, Blake attended North Carolina State University to study industrial design, then moved towards product designs but ultimately neither resonated with him.

“I was not passionate about sitting behind a computer screen and drawing things for the rest of my life. But I have always had a passion for working on cars.” He found that he had a fascination for seeing how vehicle components and sub-systems operated and decided to change course and enrolled at Durham Technical College. Once he began his education at Durham Tech, he realized he had found his passion.

Did trade school prep you for working in the real world?
Yes, Durham Tech was “more than helpful”, says Blake. He notes that the curriculum was
75 percent hands on diagnosing and repairing vehicles and 25 percent of the time was spent inside the classroom.

Best piece of advice a mentor or instructor ever gave you?
One of Blake’s mentors an ASE Master Technician, exposed him to a heavy dose of practical skills and exposed him to a wide variety of different cars, trucks, vans and heavy-duty vehicles.
“The best advice he gave me was to be confident in myself. Say I am comfortable servicing a Honda Civic, don’t be intimidated with a BMW. The level of difficulty might be slightly higher, but they all come apart and go back together.”

How many different shops have your worked at?
Over 12 years, Blake has worked at four different independent repair shops.

What makes a good shop to work at?
“What I look for in an exceptional business is its presentation and cleanliness. My current shop - Carmedix is polished and professional. Customers want to visit Carmedix, which means that we are busy. That ranks foremost in my book.” Next Blake adds, “I also look for the attitude and presences of my fellow employees that I might be working with. The team that I work with now is phenomenal. I mean that from day one. Every person is excited to work for Carmedix, and that speaks a lot for our boss, Jay Huh. Right off the bat I knew that this would be a great place to be.”

If you could have a “Do Over” would you still be an Auto Technician?
Blake is absolutely satisfied that he wrenches cars and trucks for a living. But he wishes he would have started down his path earlier.

What ASE Certifications do you have? Do you have any Vehicle specific certifications from working at a dealership?
As of today, Blake holds four certifications: A1-engine repair, A4-suspension and steering, A5-brake systems and A6-electrical. None of these tests were easy for Blake but he studies hard and is proud to have passed the tests to get his certifications. He is grateful that the tech school he attended drove home math and computer sciences which are important to working on cars. Blake feels that understanding “Electrical systems are crucial, especially nowadays with how advanced vehicles are. There’s a separate certification for hybrids, which I’m interested in taking. Being familiar with electronics is key because, in a shop setting, I notice some shops do not possess the talent or information with their techs to replace the correct part. What ends up happening is that it costs the shop and customer more instead of actually identifying of what is the root cause. In layman’s terms, having that electrical certification is going to help the tech with diagnostics, which is extremely important nowadays.”

What are the top challenges you face being an automotive technician?
“I would say that the big hurdle for techs are the tools. We see newer vehicles that require a one-off tool that you will never use ever again but only on this car to keep an object in place while you repair it. So, the hardest things that I see are just keeping up on updates with vehicles and the tools. Other than that, the knowledge is still the same, it's just how are we going to apply it.”

What do you enjoy most about being an automotive technician?
“Anything the has moving parts, anything that flows, anything that propels all put together is a most enjoyable experience.”

Advice to new techs
Regarding getting your ASE Certifications, “the most valuable and approachable certification that someone should begin with is engine repair. A1, the engine repair segment is extremely helpful. That is the broadest certification that allows someone to gain familiarity with cooling repair, lubrication systems such as the oil pump.”