Collision repair instructors at the new 3M™ Skills Development Center in front of one of the facility’s custom murals designed by local artists.

New 3M™ Skills Development Center Will Provide Comprehensive Collision Repair Training (article continued)

As an I-CAR Sustaining Partner and Industry Training Alliance Partner, 3M works closely with the educational organization to develop and deliver courses that meet requirements based on defined knowledge and skill areas for different roles in the shop.

3M also consults with OEMs to not only make sure the most up to date repair procedures are used, but also on how the training sessions integrate with their certified network requirements.

Background on the 3M SDC

Founded in 1902, 3M was officially known as Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company until 2002. The American corporation manufactures a variety of products for multiple industries, including automotive, health care and consumer products. As part of the company’s mission to apply science to improve lives, 3M recognized the need to make an impactful contribution to the collision repair industry by building a world-class training facility.

Over the past several years, Gunderson has presented at a number of conferences, discussing how to encourage more people to join the industry.

“One of the biggest challenges is they just don't know what they don't know,” he noted. “We made this investment in the training facility to create an awareness of the opportunities available in the industry.”

From idea to completion, the path to opening the SDC has been a five-year journey led by project manager Adam Spah, application engineering manager at 3M. “While the pandemic slowed things down for a couple of years, our leadership team never wavered in their support of the team. They recognize the importance of continued skill development to the industry,” Spah said.

“We wanted this facility to be a destination to train technicians,” said Scharton. 

The SDC will cater to a cross-section of students, including those entering the profession, as well as more experienced technicians and instructors. 

A variety of classes will be offered, from fundamental skills new employees should know to more advanced training and upskilling.

By educating students and placing them in a collision repair facility, Gunderson said it’s exciting to see them realize they can build a career and make a really good income.

Students will have access to 3M instructors who are formally trained in their professions, articulate and have industry experience.

Scharton said their credibility as former collision technicians helps them connect with the students they teach.

“We look for what we call the ‘approachable expert,’ someone who can stand up, represent the science of why, and relate very comfortably with the technicians while speaking their language,” he explained.

3M plans to use the SDC as a test bed and learn from the model before scaling it in other major markets.

“This facility is hopefully a showpiece to allow us to do that,” said Scharton.

In addition to 3M’s other training centers around the globe, the 3M Collision Repair Academy offers online e-learning courses and videos. Plans include expanding the platform by adding virtual events and webinars.

“Our goal is to support the industry however and wherever they need it, whether that’s taking an online course to learn the process of using adhesive on a plastic repair or attending a live class at the SDC with a 3M expert to learn how to do a repair as successfully and safely as possible following OEM repair procedures,” said Scharton.

”Simply stated, we’re here to help,” concluded Gunderson.

Later this year, 3M will hold an industry grand opening of the SDC. For more information, visit 3MCollision.com/Learn or email 3MCollisionRepairAcademy@mmm.com.

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