One came from Moscow, and the other from Minnetonka, but both are bringing their recent schooling and talents to Luther Auto shops.
Westside VW technician Andrey Belov once worked as an engineer on Russian military aircraft engines. When the Soviet Union broke up a quarter century ago, his work across the country fizzled. Belov went back to school to become an automotive technician, and worked on French cars and other European vehicles.
He came to the U.S. and enrolled at Dakota County Technical College. Though he had four year degrees in engineering and metrology, and auto experience, he found that the United States approaches auto mechanics differently.
In Russia and Europe, techs are specialized in areas such as engines, brakes and suspension or another aspects “Here, you have to do everything.”
Service director Bob Cozatt said it took Belov just two weeks to engage well with the operation. “He just took off and hit a home run with it.”
Another big hitter is in the paint booth at Luther Collision and Glass in Plymouth, prepper Luiz Gomez. His mentor appreciates the young man’s help.
“It was almost like it was meant to be,” said painter Shawn Larson, who first thought it would be a struggle to find someone. As Larson invests time in his protege, more work gets done and another painter is gaining skills. “He wants to eventually be in my shoes someday and I’m going to do everything I can to help him get there.”
Gomez graduated from Newgate School in St. Paul, which offers a free technical education by selling the cars it repairs. All hands-on in practice, the school works with 10 students at a time, he explains, using three instructors. After working on many cars over 18 months there, Gomez was ready to go pro. “I always wanted to do painting,” he said.
The idea about Newgate came to him while reading a newspaper one day as he ate with a friend. The free education was invaluable. “I worked on a lot of cars over there. It really, really helped me.”
With the work volume offered here, Larson has Gomez on track to run his own paint booth. The highest challenge is in learning how to tint colors, measuring and matching, Larson said. Being able to see color and figure out what’s needed is very important. “There’s a focus on quality.”