"The schools are cutting all of the industrial studies programs, including drafting, woodworking, metal shop and all of the classes that teach people how to work with their hands,” he said. “So that is why body shops, for example, are having problems finding qualified people to fill these positions. It's happening in all the trades, and that's why we have a huge need for plumbers, electricians and mechanics, for example. I tell parents with high school kids that they need to push the school boards and school district administrators and let their voices be heard because if they don't do anything, the schools and the politicians will eventually eliminate these curriculums altogether if they haven't already."
Thirty-six years ago, when Roach became a part-time teacher at I-CAR, there were only a few instructors on staff, and the curriculum was continually evolving.
"I-CAR was established in 1979, and I got involved in 1983, so I was there at the beginning," Roach said. "There were only seven classes back then. [They were] in the process of developing class numbers eight and nine, and I took them all. During the breaks, I started talking to the instructor. He found out that I was fairly knowledgeable, so he invited me to co-teach with them. The first class I taught was at a body shop in San Jose in front of 20--30 people, and it grew from there. I remember having to turn people away back then because we limited the attendance to 60, and the classes were popular. Eventually, I helped develop many of the early classes and trained several other instructors along the way."
In 2004, Roach and his wife, Brenda, adopted four children from Siberia, Russia and homeschooled them for many years. Pasha "Paul" Roach, 26, is the shop's general manager, and his brother, Artem "Arthur,” 20, works part-time at the shop.
"They're fourth-generation because my wife's grandfather started a body shop back in 1949 in San Jose," Roach said. "Paul is very hands-on, and Arthur is a fast learner."
Roach is proud when he looks at what I-CAR has achieved in the last four decades.
"It's a huge business now, and we're still the industry leader," he said. "There are a handful of smaller independent schools out there and some of the MSOs are training their people in-house, but they're not recognized like I-CAR. I still love teaching the classes and have no plans to stop because I can see we're still a strong organization that is doing positive things for this industry."