As 2021 drew to an end, 3M was looking toward the future ─ specifically the collision repair industry’s future ─ as they donated $889,719.50 in products and supplies to 300 schools around the country, through the Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF).
“Investing in the talent of the future for collision repair trade is a priority for 3M and the industry we serve. We are seeing talent and labor shortages all over the United States, said Lori Tempelis, Vice President United States and Canada for the 3M Automotive Aftermarket. “Engaging in the talent of the future not only fuels the body shops we work with, our developer and application engineers come from the industry to keep advancing and providing the experience to support our customers.”
Equipping collision education programs with the most up-to-date supplies, materials, tools and equipment allows collision instructors to train students with the same products they’ll be using in their future positions in the industry – without maxing out the department’s budget. Each care package included several DA sanders, along with sanding/graining/finishing discs, sandpaper, repair glue and “all kinds of good stuff,” according to Jerry Goodson, collision repair and refinishing instructor at Chippewa Valley Technical College (Eau Claire, WI).
“We receive an awesome package from 3M and CREF at least once a semester, sometimes more often,” Goodson reports. “It seems like every time our supplies start running low or our tools begin wearing out, we receive another pallet of donated materials from CREF through 3M or the Foundation’s others donors. It’s great that students get to learn with similar products to what they’ll be seeing when they enter the workforce; we don’t have to teach them on lower quality products to maintain our budget, plus the donations enable us to use more materials which gives students more experience before graduation.”
Enhancing students’ experience during their education is vital to maintaining engagement, but the donations play an even more important role in prepping the pipeline of workers and fueling the future success of the industry: They show students that they will be supported in their pursuit of a collision career.
“Each time we receive a delivery, my students are excited to see what donations came in. They really value that the industry cares about their education and ensuring we have the materials they need to learn their trade,” Goodson says. “I appreciate everything CREF and the industry does to help our program, but more importantly, our students appreciate it. These students are our future. Supporting collision programs enables our schools to provide students with a quality education that sets them up for success – and fulfills the industry’s future workforce needs.
“CREF is a great organization that’s staffed with a team of people who are passionate about what they do, and their efforts certainly help us educators provide the best possible education to the students who are the industry’s future collision technicians, estimators, painters… or whatever other career path they may choose,” he adds. “Thanks so much to the Collision Repair Education Foundation and its donors for all you do to make our jobs a lot easier. We’d have a hard time doing this without you!”
“We all know that collision programs work on small budgets. The industry’s generosity in subsidizing those funds through in-kind donations to stock classroom supply closets ensures that students get more hands-on experience which, in turn, will elevate the quality of help entering the workforce after graduation,” said Melissa Marscin, CREF’s director of operations and impact. “I want to thank 3M for working with the Foundation to enhance these programs as they prepare students to enter the industry with the training necessary to succeed.”
Since 2008, 3M has actively aided the Foundation’s efforts to assist collision students, instructors and schools, generously providing frequent in-kind donations, funding grants and supporting CREF’s Hire Our Heroes campaign.