Joe Sevart, an auto technician turned business owner in Kansas City, Missouri, talks about the future of servicing more advanced vehicles.
The Model T automobile, produced by Ford Motor company in 1908, cost just $850 at the time. While it wasn’t the first automobile on the market, it was the most affordable option for many Americans, which in turn put more drivers on the road.
With the arrival of those cars came a need for a new kind of worker: people who could fix automobiles. It was a job that could provide a decent income and didn’t require a college degree. Automobile technology has advanced measurably since those days, so much so that tech giants such as Google, Tesla, and Uber are fighting to get Americans out of the driver’s seat by way of self-driving cars. In turn, efforts to make cars safer, more autonomous, and more energy-efficient have created a shortage of technicians with the skills to work on the technologically advanced vehicles.
Joe Sevart owns an auto-service business in Kansas City, Missouri, that specializes in computer diagnostics. I spoke with Sevart about his transition from technician to business owner, why he hired a business coach, and how electric and driverless cars are changing the traditional auto industry. The interview that follows has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Adrienne Green: What inspired you to become an auto technician?
Joe Sevart: Today, I am the president of I-70 Auto Service in Kansas City, which is a business my father opened. We’ve been in business for 40 years, and I’ve been a part of it for 37 years. I started working here when I was 14 years old, and I’ve only stepped away from it for three years after graduating high school. My dad asked me to come back and help him run the business in 1983, and I have been running it ever since.
Green: What kind of work did you do as a 14-year-old in your dad’s shop?
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