September 14, 2015 - 11:05 AM
A local automotive business owner has made a major donation to Okanagan College to ensure that one of the Valley’s economic engines doesn’t stall out as veteran tradespeople retire in the coming years.
Fender’s Automotive Center in West Kelowna has pledged $50,000 to support upgrades underway in the College’s Collision Repair shop. The shop is currently being upgraded as part of the $33-million, 10,000 sq. metre renovation and expansion of trades training facilities at the Kelowna campus, which includes construction of a new Trades Training Tower along K.L.O. Road.
“As a business owner who hires Red Seal technicians and as someone who went through the apprenticeship process myself, I feel a responsibility to support the next generation and to help keep the automotive trade alive and healthy,” says Fender’s owner Norm Cross.
“The fact that local employers have chosen to support the new trades training complex is very affirming for us as we build for the future,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “We are truly grateful to Fender’s and all of the other automotive business owners investing in our campus, our programs, and our students as we grow to train ahead of the skills gap predicted for the province.”
Cross’s connection to the College dates back more than three decades; he earned his Red Seal from the Collision Repair Program in 1983.
“I worked for my dad, Norm Sr., who started Springfield Auto Body in the mid-1970s,” explains Cross. “My father was the one who signed off on my apprenticeship ticket.”
Following in his father’s footsteps, Cross opened Fender’s in 1999 as a full-service car, truck, RV, bus, and fleet repair shop, specializing in accredited collision repair, automotive glass repair, mechanical repair, detailing, and tire services. The business was awarded West Kelowna’s Best Big Business award in 2014.
The Okanagan College Foundation launched the Bright Horizons Building for Skills Fundraising Campaign in October of last year. Among the earliest supporters of the campaign were the Kelowna Automotive Dealers Association, various individual dealerships, and a host of other automotive-industry businesses—a fact which inspired Cross to join the organizations and families supporting.
“It is very fulfilling to be part of a group of business owners willing to back students entering the automotive trades,” he says. “I’ve seen many examples of people my father knew and worked with who are supporting the College, along with their kids—my generation—who are now honouring their parents’ legacies.”
The Foundation is endeavouring to raise $7 million through the Bright Horizons Building for Skills Campaign in support of the renovation, including $5 million for capital construction and $2 million for student and program support. The provincial government has committed $28-million to the project.
With several renovated shops already in operation, the new Trades Training Complex is expected to be fully completed and open to students by next spring.
More information about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to support students is available at www.okanagan.bc.ca/campaign.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015