Who Are We?

By Andy Fiffick, MACS Chairman and Owner Rad-Air, Cleveland, OH

For some time now I have been struggling with the term “technician.” It appears that some of us in the industry refer to ourselves as technicians and some simply use the term mechanic to describe what we do for a living. This recently came to light because of our company’s need to hire some qualified people for our shops. How do I advertise for the right person? Is the term technician more 21st century than the term mechanic?

Will I get a better response if I advertise for a top-notch technician than advertising for a top-notch mechanic? Or is the reverse true? Will the ghosts of our mechanic forefathers haunt me for turning my back on the pride that comes along with the term mechanic? I have had some sleepless nights thinking this over, so I decided to look the meaning of the words up and try to come to some sort of answer.

According to my dictionary, the word mechanic is “ … a person who repairs and maintains machinery, motors, etc., and a worker who is skilled in the use of tools, machines and equipment.” Well, that was easy, and it does explain a lot of what we do on a daily basis.
The same dictionary defines a technician as “a person who is trained or skilled in the technicalities of a subject, an expert in a technique, or one whose occupation requires training in a specific technical process.” Wow, that also explains a lot about how we conduct repairs on the vehicles entering out shops.
I suppose that if all you do is maintain vehicles, do minor repairs, and know how to operate a brake lathe or hydraulic press you would be deemed a mechanic by definition. It can then be said that if you have received training in a specific technical process such as how to properly flush the brake fluid on an ABS equipped vehicle or are skilled in the innermost working of variable valve timing, you may be described as a technician.
Where do you draw the line? Who decides what term should be used to describe our profession? Surely a person who can diagnose a rough running engine using a scan tool and scope to find the root cause of the problem and then has the ability to perform the necessary repairs (and preventative maintenance procedures) to make a long lasting repair is more than a mechanic or technician by definition.
The skill set required to work on today’s vehicles is unique, and only comes from a commitment to life-long training and a desire to always improve knowledge and expertise. Therefore, I believe that we need a new word to describe our profession.
How about Techmechanic, Mechanictech, or MechTech? Or should we go the way of the medical industry and call ourselves “mobile mechanical system technicians” or “technical vehicle operations specialists”? I kind of like the ring of those last two; maybe we could charge rates like doctors if we had a longer, more affluent-sounding name?
Nonetheless, I have decided that I’m going to call my self a technician from now on. I think the description suits our profession better. However I will be advertising for both “top-notch mechanics and technicians” from now on, just in case some don’t quite know where they fit in.
Now if I could only solve the facility description problem: are we a repair shop, a service center, a garage or “technical vehicle operations center?” Alas, more sleepless nights.

Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think post a comment on this blog!

Andy Fiffick

When having your mobile A/C system professionally serviced, insist on proper repair procedures and quality replacement parts. Insist on recovery and recycling so that refrigerant can be reused and not released into the atmosphere.

If you’re a service professional and not a MACS member yet, you should be, click here for more information.

You can E-mail us at macsworldwide@macsw.org or visit http://bit.ly/cf7az8 to find a Mobile Air Conditioning Society member repair shop in your area. Visit http://bit.ly/9FxwTh to find out more about your car’s mobile A/C and engine cooling system.

The 32nd annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Convention and Trade Show will take place January 18-20, 2012 at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV.


About macsworldwide

Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Founded in 1981, MACS is the leading non-profit trade association for the mobile air conditioning, heating and engine cooling system segment of the automotive aftermarket. Since 1991, MACS has assisted more than 600,000 technicians to comply with the 1990 U.S. EPA Clean Air Act requirements for certification in refrigerant recovery and recycling to protect the environment. The Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide’s mission is clear and focused--as the recognized global authority on mobile air conditioning and heat transfer industry issues. www.macsw.org
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