Volvo Training Center Keeps Mechanics Up to Par

Gary Borland, a native of Scotland, presides over the Volvo Training Center.

When you take your car to the shop for repairs or maintenance, the most logical choice is often to bring it to the dealer. After all, who would know more about the car you drive than the dealer you purchased it from?

If you've ever wondered where the mechanics at Volvo dealerships are trained to keep up with advancing automotive technology, look no further than the Volvo Training Center at 5627 Stoneridge Drive, Suite 305 here in Hacienda.

Volvo has 12 such facilities in North America. The Pleasanton location is run by Gary Borland, who acts as the Training Center's service training instructor. The Training Center serves California all the way up to the Oregon border and as far south as Fresno.

Borland's career as an automotive technician has taken him from Scotland to Nova Scotia, Chicago, Seattle, and finally to Pleasanton in 1997. He teaches classes 110 days a year, with a typical class size of from six to eight technicians. The facility is the main training center for some 200 Northern California Volvo technicians and provides certification testing as well as hands-on instruction.

"We usually take technicians who already have a technical background from a community college or an apprenticeship, and we turn them into Volvo Technicians," Borland says. "For example, we have a course called ABTS (anti-lock braking and traction systems) where we take them in and explain to them how the ABS system works, along with any components that are unique to Volvo. We give them the Volvo-specific information."

Other classes cover topics that include body, interior, and electrical systems, as well as specific models like the Volvo C70 Coupe and Convertible. Typically, the Volvo retailer pays for the technician to travel to Pleasanton, Volvo pays for the training, and the Volvo Training Center provides lunch.

Keeping track of the different types of training and tests the technicians have completed is taken care of by what it called a "Volvo Passport." Technicians collect stickers in their Passport when they complete a course or a test and a certain amount of stickers indicates that they are at a certain level of proficiency.

Every year, technicians are also given VISTA professional evaluation tests. "The technician will actually call up a telephone number and we'll fax them 20 questions," Borland says. Based on the results of the tests, technicians can advance to a higher level of qualification and even improve their job title.

"At the end of the year, we look at how many training courses the technicians have had and how many VISTA tests they've taken and we put it together to determine their experience level," Borland explains. Master Technician, Certified Technician, and Quality Technician are all levels of experience that can be achieved within the Volvo organization.

Whatever the technician's level of experience, if you take your Volvo to a local dealership for maintenance or mending in Northern California, the odds are that the mechanic received training from the Volvo Training Center at Hacienda.

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