Michael Johnson
Senior Mobile Diesel Technician

Tell us about yourself. What made you decide to become a service professional?
I’ve always been mechanically inclined. At nine years old, I started working on bikes and helping my father work on his cars. While dismantling a 1964 Buick Skylark, he handed me a cross tip screwdriver and told me to remove the taillights. From that moment, my destiny was sealed. By 13, I was pulling and installing engines. A few years later, I joined the military at 17 as a Bradley Fighting Vehicle mechanic. After serving, I worked as a government contractor for over a decade servicing military vehicles and equipment. Then in 2014, I took my first job as a diesel technician for Ryder. After some time with that company, I started working for Dickinson Fleet Services (now Cox Automotive Mobility Fleet Services).

Where/How did you get your training to get the knowledge you have today?
I learned basic mechanic skills by working on cars, trucks and bikes as a kid. The U.S. Army Armor School taught me more systematic troubleshooting and diagnostics later in my career. Over the years, I’ve gained a ton of experience by learning on the job, especially at Ryder. They gave me access to online training with every OEM in the industry. I was also fortunate enough to have classes available to me that helped me to get a deeper grasp of diagnostics and OEM specific procedures and practice.

How long have you worked as a service professional?
I’ve been a service professional for 25 years.

What role has being ASE Certified played in your journey?
ASE Certification was required for promotions (in some roles). ASE is the gold standard for service professionals in our industry. 

What ASE Certifications do you currently hold?
I hold the T4 (brakes) and T7 (HVAC) certifications.

What are some of the top challenges you do/did face as a service professional and how do/did you overcome them?
I faced resistance when it came to promotions and other recognitions but have overcome those challenges by doing the job and doing it correctly. In one instance, I had a sergeant who did not like me and treated me like the proverbial stepchild. He made me service a truck by myself as a private E-3, which isn’t supposed to happen without a supervisor. However, I completed the service as instructed and did so properly. My battalion executive officer saw my service packet and made a note of it as the “best packet he’d ever seen.” I was awarded a promotion and my very first Army Commendation Medal. There are stories like that sprinkled throughout my career as a technician.

Do you have any advice for today’s students who might be thinking about entering the automotive industry or becoming a service professional?
If you’re looking for easy money, keep looking. But if you enjoy the euphoria of accomplishment and want to feel it regularly, it’s here. You can make lots of money in this industry if you’re hungry enough to put in the time to learn and do more than the average person.

What do you like most about being an automotive service professional?
The best part of each repair or service is when the customer is happy with their unit doing what it’s designed to do. When customers get their keys and drive off, I’m happy knowing that I help keep the roads safe.