The dealership also has assisted nearby Tidewater Community College, paying part of students’ tuition, donating tools and helping them attain necessary certifications.
“We want to make sure we support our local trade schools so we can grow our own from there,” Tracey Everitt, Barton Ford’s service manager, told Automotive News. “People don’t realize that being a technician is not just a job anymore, it’s definitely a career. It can start right there.”
The dealership, which employs 17 technicians, currently has three interns from the College and Career Academy at Pruden on the payroll; two work 40-hour weeks while a third works two days a week. The interns typically are paired with a trained technician and get to experience service work firsthand.
Connie Burgess, the school’s principal, said those experiences are key.
“It provides the workplace environment for the students to put into action what they’ve learned in the classroom,” she said. “It truly enriches the educational program for the students.”
The school offers two auto-related programs: automotive technology and auto body repair. The internships at Barton Ford typically take place near the end of their time at the school, potentially setting up employment opportunities afterward.
The dealership chose to donate a 2015 F-150 because it was relatively new but had enough miles on it to need a few basic repairs — giving students the ability to work on it immediately.
“When we took a tour of the center, we noticed the things they were working on were older and not as up-to-date as they needed to be,” Everitt said. “The best way to learn is hands-on.”