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Eric Riddles – ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician

As soon as I graduated from Hickman High School, my Auto Shop class led me to Joe Machens Ford. I started as a lube tech and was soon doing minor warranty repairs – not only on the Fords: At the time, they also sold and serviced Audi, BMW, and Porsche, so I gained experience working on imports. Before long I was recruited as a line tech in the small Ford dealership in Fayette, MO, where I really cut my teeth as a tech.

Columbia was home, so I was soon back working for a small independent shop doing line tech work, radiator repair, and restoration-fabrication. Our team all went through VISION Hi-Tech Training and took all the night classes we could to keep up with the ever-changing automotive landscape. Those techs encouraged me to start on my ASE certifications. After a couple of years, I had my ASE Master Technician patch: I had the experience and passed the exams over A1 Engine Repair, A2 Automatic Transmission, A3 Manual Transmission and Axles, A4 Suspension and Steering, A5 Brakes, A6 Electrical /Electronics, A7 Heating and Air Conditioning, A8 Engine Performance, and L1 Auto Advanced Engine Performance Specialist. By 1998, I put that training to work as a line tech at a local dealer on Mercedes Benz, Cadillac, and Mazda.

By 2005 I was still loving fixing cars. With a lovely smart wife, three great kids, and a new house to feed, I’d learned how to move shops to find the best pay-scale. I was senior tech at the newest – and what I think is the nicest – shop in Columbia: Custom Complete Automotive at Worley and Stadium.

But I had a problem: I could not get over the need in our industry for more skilled techs. So with my wife’s buy-in, I quit my job and took a teaching contract an hour north of our home. I was back in a high school Auto Shop classroom! For ten years, I taught teenagers everything from electrical and high-tech computer systems and engine performance to the basics of brakes and tire repairs. They say you never really know a subject until you teach it to others; they’re right. In order to fully teach those systems to students, I had to dig in and fully understand all of each system – how each functions – not just the repair or service of that system.

After ten years, I had not only grown, I felt that I had done enough to train the next generation of techs, and I jumped at the chance to come right back to the same shop I had left ten years before. Since then, I have moved to the front desk where I better put my 30 years of automotive experience to use helping customers understand their automobiles, what is important to maintain and repair it, and why. Come see me at Columbia’s best: Custom Complete Automotive at Worley and Stadium!

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