Eric Garbe
Senior Automotive Technical Writer
Babcox Media

What is your position in the industry?

I am a Senior Automotive Technical Writer at Babcox.

Tell us about yourself. What made you decide to become a service professional?

I've loved cars since I can remember. My life has always centered around mechanical skill, and fixing or building things evolved from toys to bikes, lawnmowers, mopeds, motorcycles, and eventually cars. When I became of driving age and got my first car, I was overcome with the desire to learn and understand everything I could about it. I was independent and I wanted to be able to fix everything - myself. At home and at school, I was always encouraged to attend college, and when it came down to choosing a course of study, I didn't need a split second to think about it. I was going to be an auto mechanic. (That's what we were still called back then.)

Where/How did you get your training to get the knowledge you have today?

I was very fortunate to have been mentored by my father in multiple skilled trades, which only heightened a mechanical aptitude from an early age. Immediately after high school, I enrolled at Columbus State Community College in Columbus, OH, to pursue an Associate's degree in Automotive Maintenance Technology. My three automotive professors, Bill Warner, Chuck Frieze and Brooke Mossgrove, were instrumental in mentoring my professional approach to the industry, and were as excellent as any teachers could be for one who was truly focused on the subject at hand.

How long have you worked as a service professional?

I got my foot in the industry door in 1988 at the parts counter of a local Corvette dealer. Not long after, I worked my way into the shop as a technician apprentice. Over the years, I have branched out into different facets of the industry, including tool dealer, automotive instructor, service manager, high performance sales, shop owner, and technical writer. Even while immersed in other aspects of the industry, I've always had one hand on a wrench, so to speak, to never lose touch with the core of my profession. I'm going on 35 years in the industry.

What role has being ASE Certified played in your journey?

As soon as I stepped into the door at Columbus State Community College, the professors drove the idea into our heads that we needed to achieve ASE Certification, not only for our personal learning and benefit, but for the advancement of the industry and also as an indication of our commitment to our profession. I feel that my ASE Certification has always promoted me to a top candidate in every position I have applied for, and it has also encouraged me to continuously learn and strive to stay current with modern technology. It has always given me a sense of pride and accomplishment to display my credentials.

What ASE Certifications do you currently hold?

I currently hold an ASE Master Automobile Technician status.

What are some of the top challenges you do/did face as a service professional and how do/did you overcome them?

In all aspects of the industry I've made mistakes, but this is how we learn. As a technician, there are many difficult problems we are faced with, both mechanically and when learning and understanding new technology. Diagnostics and drivability problems have always been a challenge that requires patience and persistence. I always overcome them by researching, learning, and asking questions of other technicians on either side of my age bracket. I've never been afraid or embarrassed to ask a question, and I've learned that this type of teamwork drives the success of our industry.

Do you have any advice for today’s students who might be thinking about entering the automotive industry or becoming a service professional?

This is an industry that requires hard work, but rewards with the satisfaction of overcoming difficult challenges. The sky is the limit with where you take it, and there are endless opportunities. Whether you like new cars, electronics and technology, or old cars, old school and restorations, the demand for all if it is not going away any time soon. Performance, racing, restorations, and restomods are a giant part of the industry, as well as maintenance and repair for the mainstream. Choose what you like, dedicate yourself to your career, and follow your own path.

What do you like most about being an automotive service professional?

Even after years of being in the industry, cars are still my hobby and I enjoy using the skills that I have learned. I get no stronger satisfaction than a job well done. There is also the customer piece, and many customers over the years are no longer customers - they are friends.

The automobile has always represented freedom, fun and friendship. Our industry represents the same thing. It's a universal language that you can speak any time, anywhere. It's a great industry to be a part of, and a great opportunity for a career.