Spotlight: Knowing the importance of continued collision training with Stuart Klein

Stuart “Stu” Klein, Vice President of Collision Programs at AIA Canada, has always had an avid interest in vehicles and repairing them. During his time in the auto care sector, he has seen the evolution of vehicles and emergence of technologies and new systems whose rapid growth only emphasized the importance of continued collision training in his opinion. With I-CAR Canada training, Stu realized he can encourage others to adopt the same mindset.  

Stuart Klein

Vice President of Collision Programs at AIA Canada

How long have you been in the industry? Have you always wanted to work in the automotive industry? If not, what inspired you to transition into it? 

I have been in the industry for 45 years. I have always been attracted to cars—as a kid, I hung out at my friend’s family shop, and the repair process immediately intrigued me. Immediately after high school, I worked in retail for nine months while looking for an auto care shop to take me on as an apprentice.  

During my time in retail, I learned many lessons, especially the importance of customer service. Within a year of working in retail, I got an apprenticeship at a collision repair shop, and since then, I have never left the industry.  

What would you say is the importance of continued collision training?  

Obviously, today’s vehicle technology is rapidly changing, and training to keep up with these changes and evolutions is critical. When I started in the industry in the late 1970’s, vehicle technology was still fairly simple, and I relied on other technicians to provide me with knowledge and learning opportunities.  

At some point, I started to attend training seminars by jobbers and material manufacturers. This training showed me that the training and coaching I received from fellow shop colleagues was sometimes incorrect or against best practices.   

Attending these training seminars led to a significant improvement in my work quality and helped advance my career all while solidifying the notion in my mind that continued learning is highly valuable. They made me realize that I, or the people I worked with, did not know everything.  

Why should technicians and companies consider I-CAR training?  Do you have an example of when you saw I-CAR training come in handy for a repair?   

I-CAR is “not for profit” and has been developed by multiple stakeholders in the industry. The mission behind I-CAR is to ensure that technicians have the knowledge required to repair vehicles properly. The Platinum and Gold recognition programs at I-CAR provide an industry standard across Canada.  

And, as vehicle technology and industry standards change, so do the training requirements of I-CAR. Many other vendor training programs can qualify for I-CAR credits through the I-CAR Training Alliance program which recognizes equivalent training and reduces redundancy. I-CAR Canada also gives credit for 76 I-CAR courses to technicians that achieve their Red Seal Trade license.  

I have learned something important even in the most basic I-CAR courses. That being said, the most eye opening for me was the welding certifications. Understanding how to identify good welds, poor welds, and the importance of destructive tests prior to welding on the vehicle is paramount.  

What is the most important aspect of being an I-CAR instructor?  

I have put my entire career into this industry. I want the industry and the people in it to prosper. I also want the industry to maintain a high level of professionalism and I want the people in it to be viewed as professionals by the outside world. I think training in general, but I-CAR, in particular, contributes to this. Being an instructor means being a vital part of continually moving this industry forward. 

About I-CAR Canada 

I-CAR is an international organization dedicated to providing the information required to perform complete, safe, and quality auto repairs.  

I-CAR Canada is a training and recognition program run by the Automotive Industries Association of Canada (AIA Canada), a not-for-profit organization representing, supporting and leading innovation in Canada’s $37.8 billion auto care sector. 

Aimed at up-skilling tradespeople in the collision industry, I-CAR training has been available in Canada since 1979 and has been operated by AIA Canada since 2010.