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Nicolet College - Nicolet auto instructor named national auto tech of the year


Nicolet auto instructor Paul Marquardt
named national auto tech of the year

 

Nicolet College Automotive Technology instructor Paul Marquardt has been named the 2010 National Technician of the Year by NAPA Auto Parts and the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.

The award is one of the highest national honors in the auto repair and maintenance field.

Auto Instructor Paul Marquardt“It was almost disbelief,” Marquardt said of learning the news in a phone call he received from the president of NAPA. “I knew that there were many technicians across the country who were just as qualified, if not more so, so it did catch me by surprise when I got the call.”

A panel of judges made up of industry leaders, trade press, and university representatives cited Marquardt’s long-standing dedication to quality service and community involvement in naming him for the honor.

A certified master technician, Marquardt has more than 30 years of experience in the auto repair and maintenance field. He’s owned Northwoods Auto Techs in Rhinelander for nearly 20 years and began teaching auto technology at Nicolet in 2009. In the classroom, he applies the same standards that earned him the national honor.

“I expect a lot from students. The standard I have is: ‘Would I hire this student in my shop?’”

That’s a tall order, considering all the techs in his shop are master ASE certified, a result of his long-standing belief in continuing education and professional development.

Same goes for the classroom.

“Students will come to me with the correct answers to a list of questions, and I’ll say, ‘Fine, but that is not enough.’ I push them to the next level, asking ‘Is there more? What about this? What about that?’ It gets them thinking beyond the answer. That’s when learning really starts to get fun.”

Nicolet College President Elizabeth Burmaster said Marquardt’s commitment to excellence is commendable. “Nicolet is a center of excellence for many types of training and Paul’s accomplishments demonstrate that this is indeed the case for the auto program,” Burmaster said. “It’s important to note that this is a benefit to the auto students and to the Northwoods residents who will have their vehicles serviced by the well-trained technicians who come out of the Nicolet auto program.”

Marquardt, along with fellow Nicolet auto instructor Jon Werkmeister, also do more than teach the nuts and bolts of the profession. Customer service is equally important.

“Students need to know how to take the time with customers, so that when the customer drops off and picks up their vehicle, they think theirs was the only vehicle in the shop that day,” he said. “Some places will just toss you the keys and say ‘That’s $250.’ That’s a good way to lose a customer.”

As for community service, Marquardt has served over the years as president of the local Jaycees, district director for the Wisconsin State Jaycees, head instructor for a non-profit martial arts school where he teaches Fu-Chen Kung Fu, and as a member of the Northwoods Aviation Association, where he’s taught Boy Scouts basic flight instruction.