The Luther Automotive Group

National judge comes from Luther ranks

Tim VanKempen

Few problems can stump Tim VanKempen, who was named a World Class
Technician in 2008, and shared his talents for the first time at the national event involving 5,600 students.

One of Brookdale Chev’s finest represents General Motors at major SkillsUSA event

The national SkillsUSA competition is a vocational Olympics of sorts, where some 5,600 students gather in Kansas City to compete before 1,100 industry judges. Luther Auto’s Tim VanKempen used his vacation time to volunteer as a judge after learning about the opportunity from General Motors.

The World Class Technician from Luther Brookdale Chevrolet said he wants to help the next generation of techs as much as possible. “I was raised and always taught that in everything you do, do the best you possibly can.”

VanKempen critiqued top college students who had won in their respective states as they faced an electronics test board. The challenge involved lab exercises to analyze different wave patterns based on directions to complete the task. VanKempen was the only General Motors technician on hand, and most vehicle makes were represented at the event on the nearly 800,000 square-foot site. Some 924 medals were awarded.

The master tech also had a chance to put his own talents on display in a separate timed contest. What happened next surprised him. “I was more worried about going in there and not embarrassing myself by going slow,” he said.

One dexterity task involved eight fasteners on a round tube, a socket and a ratchet. VanKempen also had to loosen some screws to let a ball fall down, then pick up a penny with a pair of pliers. The Brookdale man was the fastest, beating about 600 competing judges with a time of 23.5 seconds. The prize? $550 in Snap-on tools.

Tim VanKempen with GM training committee members

VanKempen, right with General Motors committee members Jim Raimondi, left, and Michael Sculthrope, middle. They’re both employed at GM training centers.

Back in Minnesota, shop life may be less chaotic, but it is more challenging. The tech was found fixing a torque converter slip on a Pontiac, studying a 1985 Corvette with issues and repairing a newer Camaro with a repeated convertible top problem.

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