"My parents taught me to give back, and teaching is a great way to do it. I've taught and mentored a lot of people over the years, but now they're all retired. I tell my students that knowledge is a tool, just like a piece of equipment that they can use to be better at their jobs."
Roach hasn't altered his teaching style, but the technology changes literally every day---new metals, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and more sophisticated equipment, tools and processes are taking over the industry.
"A lot of things have changed, especially within the last 5--6 years, but I tell my students that you still have to learn the basics first," he said. "To stay up-to-date with today's vehicles, the learning can never stop, and training is more valuable than ever as a result."
In 1989, a major change took place: I-CAR began providing special classes for the insurance companies, primarily at the middle and upper management levels, Roach said.
"The insurers realized that their people needed to know more about these cars and the technology if they were going to be effective,” he said. “I have to give them credit for wanting to do a better job and encouraging that the shops have to maintain a certain level of training to work with them."
The body shop business climate has also changed dramatically since Roach began, he said.
"Back when I started, there were a lot of shops in San Jose, but now there is a lot of competition in this area, and that has changed the business environment in many ways," he said. "The MSO managers feel like they're working more for their accounting department now, so it's all about the numbers. It's push, push, push when it comes to production, and they're taking the McDonald's approach.”
Getting young people in the collision repair industry now is tougher because the high schools are no longer teaching shop classes, Roach said.