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Ed Attanasio

Ed Attanasio is an automotive journalist based in San Francisco. Ed enjoys sports of all kinds and is a part time stand-up comedian.

 

He can be reached at era39@aol.com.

Wednesday, 01 December 2021 11:16

Retired Tech Looks Back at 67 Years in Collision Repair

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The Cano family has always been all-in when it comes to becoming the best techs they can and imparting their knowledge to others. Pictured here is Felix Cano Jr., left, and his father, Felix Cano, Sr. The Cano family has always been all-in when it comes to becoming the best techs they can and imparting their knowledge to others. Pictured here is Felix Cano Jr., left, and his father, Felix Cano, Sr.

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Over the years, I have interviewed a lot of collision repair professionals as they retire from the industry. If someone can work in this business for 30, 40 or even 50 years, it’s obviously an impressive run.

But when I heard Felix Cano Sr. of Texas retired after a 67-year career as a metal technician, I was shocked and pleasantly surprised.

 

Longevity is always a factor with technicians or painters. They need to be adaptable and willing to learn, and---maybe most importantly---they need to be durable.

 

The physical work associated with these jobs is what often becomes the deciding factor. The average veteran body man ends up experiencing injuries and wear and tear to his body over the years, and it adds up.

 

When Cano entered the industry at age 16, he knew nothing, but at $8 an hour, he was the richest kid in school. He started out working for a collision center for a Chevy dealership in Texas as a body man’s helper. To say the learning curve was steep is a major understatement.

 

“I learned fast and the guys I worked with were willing to teach me,” Cano said. “Bondo wasn’t even around back then, so I was doing mostly lead work. The cars back then didn’t have all of the plastic that they have now and fixing them was more straightforward. Today, you have to scan the vehicles and techs are more like computer programmers compared to what we did.”

 

Life wasn’t always a walk in the park for Cano and his family, as his father worked multiple jobs with the economy struggling. At one point, his parents and two siblings were one step away from homelessness.

 

“For three weeks, we lived in our car, an old Bonneville, under a tree,” he said. “We bathed in an ice chest and it was a tough period. My first pay check was $488 for one week, and I thought I was wealthy. We got an apartment and things got better.”

 

The only problem was Cano’s parents moved the family into an apartment where children were not allowed.

 

“We had to hide the kids from the landlord so he wouldn’t find out,” he said. “We hid in the closet and under the bed. The apartment manager knew what we were doing, but he...


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