Terry Labonte Chevrolet Dealership
What sparked your interest to work on cars?
Shannon Ayers grew up in West Virginia. Her mother was a single parent in the Navy who worked around aircrafts. Her mother bought Shannon her first car, a Chevy Cavalier with a manual transmission that she “tinkered on”. Her high school did not have any automotive technology classes which she would have gladly taken. “My first ambition was to be an aviation technician, but that fell through for personal reasons. So, I switched to cars and after high school, traveled to Pennsylvania to study automotive technologies at Wyo Tech.
What was it like for you once you got out of trade school and went job hunting?
“I can tell you that after I got my diploma from WyoTech and went job hunting it was not easy for me.” The first five dealers told Shannon that they would not even take her application. She had to keep going farther and farther away. “The last dealership, number six, was two hours from my home. I walked in that Buick GMC dealership and was hired on the spot because the service manager was a woman. I started out as an oil changer.”
How many shops have you worked at?
Shannon decided early on that she only wanted to work at Chevy dealerships. “You could get the training and experience working on one particular brand and have many models to work on. Chevrolet was my favorite vehicle. I grew up in a Chevrolet family”
“For the last fourteen years I’ve worked for four different Chevy dealerships. I stayed at the first dealer for five years. I left because the transmission technician that I was going to apprentice under passed away and that opportunity ended before it got started. I also just wanted to work closer to home. I got a job at a Chevrolet dealership closer to home, but when the coal industry fell apart and the economy tanked, I moved to North Carolina.”
"I went to work at ‘Terry Labonte Chevrolet Dealership’ in Greensboro. And now you couldn't get me out of Terry Labonte if you tried. The people are wonderful, they offer training, are helping me get my ASE Certifications and pushing me to become one of GM’s ’World Class Technicians’”
The GM World Class Technician status is the highest level of achievement a GM technician can earn. Mechanical technicians achieve WCT status when they successfully complete eight of nine Master Technician Certifications in the Mechanical area, along with the accompanying ASE Certifications.
What certifications do you have?
“I have my GM master certification in suspension and steering. In the next four weeks I will be testing for four more GM master certifications. I also have seven ASE certifications: engine repair, heating & air conditioning, electrical, brakes, suspension, manual drivetrain & axles and automatic transmission. The only one that I have left to get is engine performance and then I’ll be an ASE certified master technician.”
Do you feel ASE Certifications are important to have and maintain?
“ASE is a wonderful program. I think they're doing an excellent job, giving the tests, and making sure people know what they need to know and what people don't know. ASE is a learning curve. I've enjoyed studying for the ASE exams. They have shown me how much I've experienced in the real world and what steps that I need to take. The certifications show your customers what you know, and your years of experience visually shows on the certifications. “
What are your favorite vehicles to work on?
“That would be the Silverado’s and Cruzes that I like working on the best.” Shannon loves collecting classic cars and owns 16 vehicles including a 1968 Chevy Truck and her Grandfather’s Cummings Diesel she restored. Her daily drive is still a 6 speed Chevy Cruze.
Best pieces of advice given to you?
Roberts Adams told me ‘Take my time and think things through.’
Dave Coleman told me ‘If you're going to bother a technician to help you, then you share your time. It’s your flat rate.’ “I have always lived by that.”
Did you face challenges as a female working in an industry where 98% of the techs are male?
In the very beginning, did I want to quit when I first started? Yes. The other techs would point out (petty) mistakes…they honed in on it and were not nice about it. I dealt with it because my mother was in US Navy and gave me good advice. She always told me to let it go in one ear and out the other or just give it back to them and don’t back down. Over time I proved that I knew what I was talking about. I didn't have as many comebacks versus other people. Since I've gotten a lot of my ASE certifications and started working towards the GM’s Master Tech, I’ve got more respect going. I've worked hard to get where I'm at.”
What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
Don’t walk in thinking you are going to change things because you can’t. It comes down to finding a good shop to work in. One that has patience and will help you. Especially when you are new. Then all you can do is have ambition, the right attitude, learn to ignore ‘those’ people and focus on learning and proving your worth.
What challenges do you see for automotive technicians in the near future?
“The change of automotive technology is coming fast. We're headed away from gasoline engines and we're getting ready to enter the world of electronics. I haven't dealt with a lot of hybrid vehicles and EVs… I've always had fun with the gasoline engines. But I've gotten to the point where I like the whole chase electrical issues…the hard ones. Before I used to cringe at it… now I'm like, yeah, bring it on, I can do this.
I just took a course on EVs and they are a whole other breed. I was in Atlanta for GM training and the mood there was that this is the future. I'm always impressed with how the manufacturers come up with stuff. How they made something work, like the fully electric Hummer and Silverado. I look forward to these learning opportunities and these new challenges that are coming to the whole automotive industry”