Burl’s Collision Center Hosts Events for High School Students, First Responders

Twenty-five students from Henderson High School visited Burl’s Collision Center for a shop tour in November.

On Nov. 17, Burl’s Collision Center in Henderson, TX, hosted two events as part of its approach to community outreach, something President Burl Richards has always viewed as a priority.

For the first time, the shop hosted approximately 25 Henderson High School students. During a tour, the students were introduced to the complexities of today’s modern car repairs, technology and career opportunities within the field. They were walked through each step of the process start to finish and shown examples of vehicles in the repair process.

The students were then taken to the Henderson Civic Center, where lunch was served.

The students got a glimpse into the industry from Richards’ perspective, a second-generation painter who has two sons working in the collision repair industry.

“We are in the process of developing a one-year program where these young people can receive valuable information in a hands-on manner," Richards said. "We strip vehicles and teach them how to do simple tasks and then we go from there. Since we are in a fairly rural area, these kids are studying ag[ricultural] classes, for example. But once they see all of the technology that’s in these newer vehicles, many of them want to look more closely at working in the collision repair industry.”

Richards received a great response from many of the students who attended.

“We got six or seven applications after the tour and learning session, so that is exciting,” he said. “I tell them that with a shortage of qualified people in this industry right now, once you get the necessary training, you can work anywhere in the country and have a good career.”

The day’s second event at Burl’s was its annual first responders appreciation event that took place at the Henderson Civic Center, where they cooked some burgers and more than $4,000 worth of prizes donated by local businesses were presented to lucky first responder winners in a drawing.

Burl’s Collision Center also had two Teslas on display, to educate the first responders on EV safety and how to approach and safely access them at an accident scene. Once a Tesla was disassembled to expose the high voltage line locations and the battery was removed, the first responders in attendance could see the item of most concern during a fire or other emergency situation.

Burl’s Collision Center has been hosting first responder events for seven years, though they took a few years off during the pandemic before starting it up again this year, Richards said.

“We have always stressed supporting and giving back to local law enforcement, ambulance workers and county workers here in town," Richards said. "These appreciation events are a great way of showing how we care."

Richards said his shop is certified by several EV car manufacturers, including Tesla, Ford and VW, and that’s why firefighters, ambulance drivers, local police and other first responders like the annual event and attend to learn as much as they can.

"They don’t get a lot of exposure to these EVs, so we always make sure to have several of them on hand," Richards said. "We provide a ton of information, as well as access to more of it online, so that they can do a safe job as first responders. We’d also like to thank all of our wonderful local sponsors who donated some great gifts for the first responders. It truly is a combined event.”

Ed Attanasio

Ed Attanasio is an automotive journalist and Autobody News columnist based in San Francisco.

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