Fixin’ for a Drive: Trubilt Collision Center takes auto repair into the future
Trubilt Collision Center doesn’t slow down for a minute, even on a Friday leading into a sunny spring weekend. Phones are ringing, front office workers are typing, hospitality is being offered to those who come in to fix their vehicular woes.
Customer Service Representative Nicki hums along with the country music playing in the background between passing paperwork and checking people in. Estimators are making phone calls and checking forms – yet in the relaxing reception area, it’s hard to imagine the intensive, careful repair and refinish work being carried out just a few feet away in the shop by Trubilt’s talented staff.
“Our modern cars are driving computers. Fixing cars 10 years ago is completely different from fixing cars today.” – Luke Salter Trubilt Collision Center
“There’s no way in hell I could do this alone,” says Jerry Salter, owner of Trubilt. He bought the auto center in 1997, and the business itself dates back to 1949. Now he runs Trubilt with his two children, Luke Salter and Amy Wolfe, and the trio pour their hearts and souls into the business and their community.
Through apprenticeship programs with Chippewa Valley Technical College and local high schools, through a Give Back program at their Altoona location, and through the business itself, the family provides opportunities for people of all ages to make a living and live well in the Chippewa Valley.
Trubilt recently partnered with North High School to establish a collision program that will train secondary schoolers in the basics of the trade. Amy thinks of this kind of outreach as planting a seed of interest among young people in a potential career. And many have misconceptions about the field: They imagine that it’s a “dirty job” – more about pounding steel and changing oil. Luke sees an opportunity in his field for kids who are interested in computer science and technology.
“Our modern cars are driving computers,” Luke said. “Fixing cars 10 years ago is completely different from fixing cars today. You’re reaching a broader spectrum of kids, because it’s IT-related, it’s programming, diagnostics.”
Students can go from high school to CVTC where they can get a technical degree. Trubilt even pays for some students’ educational costs in exchange for a contract for a few years of work. Amy and the Salters offer leadership training and staff culture outings on top of competitive salaries. And Trubilt is looking forward to a future with a few more locations in the region, opening up advancement opportunities for employees. Trubilt’s outreach to young people in the Chippewa Valley illuminates a path to a happy future without having to leave the Chippewa Valley.
“It’s important that if the community gives us their repair work, we give back to the community as well,” Luke said.