The Best Of The Best: Tales From The 2014 Vision Hi-Tech Training & Expo -
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The Best Of The Best: Tales From The 2014 Vision Hi-Tech Training & Expo

The annual Vision Hi-Tech Training & Expo always exceeds my expectations, and this year’s event held March 6-9 at the Overland Park Convention Center in Kansas City, delivered on all accounts. I try to attend every year, take some classes, browse the Expo, and meet up with some old friends. Classes range from hybrid service, scope and scanner reading, diesel and gas engine driveability, to shop management. Some of the top instructors gather at this convention and put together some of the best classes I’ve ever attended.

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By Scott “Gonzo” Weaver

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The annual Vision Hi-Tech Training & Expo ­always
exceeds my expectations, and this year’s event held March 6-9 at the
Overland Park Convention Center  in Kansas City, delivered on all
accounts.
 
I try to attend every year, take some classes, browse the Expo, and meet
up with some old friends. Classes range from hybrid service, scope and
scanner reading, diesel and gas engine driveability, to shop management.
Some of the top ­instructors gather at this convention and put
­together some of the best classes I’ve ever attended. Whether it’s your
first or 40th year in the repair business, you’ll learn something new
from ­attending the ­Vision Hi-Tech convention.
THE CLASSES & THE EXPO
Most of the classes were all day — the morning half was lecture and
familiarization with the tools and specifications, while the afternoon
session was hands-on. Each contained exceptional information and
instruction.
 
The first class I attended was on hybrid battery servicing. The class
went deep into the theory ­behind the technology, how it works and how
to properly charge, discharge and test each cell separately. 
I also sat in on classes covering scope reading, diesel diagnostics and hybrid diagnostics. Every one of them was top notch.
 
Then, with time to spare, I made the rounds through the Expo and talked
with several vendors and suppliers. From tires to tools to
demonstrations, there was something for every facet of automotive
repair.
THE PEOPLE
All of the classes, seminars on future technology, luncheon speeches,
live podcasts and “think tank” discussion panels were impressive and
well ­received. Equally ­impressive were the guys and gals in
attendance, the ones who swing the wrenches in service bays across the
country. 
 
This convention brings out the cream of the crop — those professionals
who want to be better technicians and do a ­better job for their
customers. You don’t go to one of these conventions to learn to be a
“parts changer.” This is the type of convention you ­attend to ­become
one of the best.
 
An email I received said it best: “I learned a lot at the convention,
and now I’m back at my job and have to deal with all of these
not-so-educated guys from other repair shops all over again.” What he
means is there are so many variations of the word “mechanic” out there,
that a lot of people just lump us all together. It almost sounds like a
four-letter word when somebody is at the service counter and says, “My
friend already told me what’s wrong because he’s a ­mechanic just like
you.”
 
In my opinion, what they’re really telling me is their “mechanic” either
doesn’t have the tools to perform the necessary repair, or they’ve
never taken any training on how to perform the repair. 
 
These are the “mechanics” who give the rest of us in the auto repair
industry a bad name. They are the parts changers, guess-and-go repair
shops, and the proverbial, “I had the codes checked at the parts store”
people. I’m talking about those guys who don’t attend conventions, don’t
read the latest technical articles and procedures, don’t keep up with
the technology and don’t want any part of learning up-to-date practices —
because they either think they already know everything or are too darn
stubborn to learn from someone else. 

You’re never too old to learn something new.
THE BEST OF THE BEST
The other nice part about attending a convention like Vision is the
“meet and greet” aspect. You’re at a convention where like-minded
individuals are in attendance; you’re on common ground. They understand
the daily grind, the ­diagnostic and tool issues, the grease and grime,
and what it’s like to try to make a living from the underside of a hood.
Each of them has a story to tell, and it was commonplace to see techs
from different parts of the country get together at the nearest watering
hole and share their latest stories. When the evening came to a close,
everyone left with a newfound ­respect for their trade, themselves and
the other ­attendees.  
 
So, there’s a lot more going on at these conventions than classes and
sales pitches. It’s a place for the best of the best to meet the rest of
the best of the best. I’m never disappointed after spending a few hours
with some of the guys and gals at these conventions, and I plan on
continuing to do so.
 
Until we reach a point in the future where all this car knowledge can be
surgically ­implanted, or is taken over by some weird, futuristic
robotic controller, ­attending a few classes to ­increase your knowledge
is very important. Let’s face it; to keep those computers on wheels on
the road, it’s going to take the “best of the best.”
 

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