The Greater Bakersfield New Car Dealer Association was created in 1945 and by looking through our tax records, it’s clear that the GBNCDA has always been committed to supporting two things: our annual community golf tournament and local students pursuing higher education with futures in the community.
When Harold Meek was president of the GBNCDA, it was clear that he loved Bakersfield and he wanted to see Kern County thrive. To Mr. Meek, our association was more than networking about the auto industry and sales; it was about service to our community and service to one another and beyond that, he was even more passionate about building up the next generation of community members.
In staying true to our history, GBNCDA is proud to be partnering with Bakersfield College’s Automotive Technology program to offer students the first-of-its-kind and a unique opportunity to learn at the new Bakersfield Auto Mall center on actual trade-in vehicles, in realistic dealership scenarios, and with state-of-the-art, industry-leading equipment.
On April 21, we will cut the ribbon at our joint grand opening of the Automall Bakersfield College Training Site, a new auto training facility, to be located in the Bakersfield Auto Mall. This partnership is thanks to the combined efforts of the Greater Bakersfield New Car Dealer Association, WSM Auctions, and Bakersfield College and I have no doubt it will positively impact hundreds and hopefully, thousands of families through training and skill development of our local workforce.
It takes a lot of hard working and dedicated people to run a successful dealership and most local dealers in Bakersfield employ about 250 people each with different skills and specializations. As the technology in our industry continues to advance and evolve, so does the growing demand for more and skilled employees. Currently, Kern County has an Automotive Repair and Maintenance near-term need of more than 2,000 jobs, making an average earning of over $59,000 per year. This industry is estimated to have a total GDP for Kern County of $173 million.
It’s important for the GBNCDA that we continue to support homegrown talent that will help Kern County thrive, even through changing times. We aim to employ local, train local, skill-up local, and grow our own. Over the years, the faculty and staff at Bakersfield College have done an incredible job of giving local dealers and industry professionals a voice at the college in regard to what we need in the trade and in the workforce.
They’ve developed a pipeline that takes interested students from graduating high school seniors through BC’s program and straight to employment at a local dealership, and they’ve even developed non-credit certificate programs that enable our existing workforce to skill-up for advanced careers at no cost to them.
Since the very beginning, GBNCDA has supported scholarships at Bakersfield College for all types of students including automotive technology students, which produces at least a dozen or more skilled graduates that fill skilled, meaningful and gainful positions immediately each year in our community. Now with this partnership, it’s really exciting to know that our existing employees and future graduates will have the opportunity to learn hands-on at the new facility at the Bakersfield Auto Mall.
The future growth of our community, and the growth of our industry, is really grounded in education and partnerships. Much of our action today is inspired by the early GBNCD goals and the vision that their leadership started with — it’s about service to our community, service to one another, and even beyond that, it’s about building up the next generation.
Through this partnership, the GBNCDA alongside Bakersfield College and WSM Auction is fostering a strong path forward for the next generation of automotive technicians and professionals.
John Pitre is COO of Motor City Buick GMC Lexus and director of the Greater Bakersfield New Car Dealers Association.