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    Garrison auto skills center plans for expansion of facility, services

    Garrison auto skills center plans for expansion of facility, services

    Photo By Michael Kenfield | Recently, U.S. Army Europe and Africa Operations NCO Staff Sgt. Paul Jimenez visited...... read more read more



    Story by Michael Kenfield 

    U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden   

    WIESBADEN, Germany – The Wiesbaden Auto Skills center has plans to expand its operations and services for the United States Army Garrison Wiesbaden community.

    The auto skills center located on North Clay – winner of the Best Auto Skills Center for medium-sized installation in 2018 and 2015 – offers much more than a location for those seeking to turn wrenches on their own vehicles.
    Car enthusiasts can do more than just rent a bay and tools to work on their privately owned vehicles – the center also offers access to a wide range of services and expertise usually only found in auto dealer maintenance bays and facilities across the U.S.

    More room, more work

    Having six mechanics on staff allows the center to provide customers a wide range of services, such as: general service (oil change, battery replacement, replace bulbs, replace wipers), computer scan diagnostics, suspension, tire, air conditioning and brake services. Additionally, the center offers towing, prepurchase inspection, bay and tool rentals, tools, and car wash facilities.

    Looking forward, the car center will expand its operations to include a larger parking area and doubling the number of work bays.

    In addition to ten more working bays, a large 160-car storage and parking area is planned to open additional space behind the center.

    The initial stage of expansion construction has recently started, with a scheduled completion within the next 18 months.

    According to Richard Babcock, Auto Skills Manager, with the completion of the expansion, he hopes to hire additional staff to support an additional mechanic and car detailing.

    If all moves forward as planned, the center envisions providing car detailing services for customers who are preparing their POVs for shipment overseas. These detailing services would be done on site using contracted specialists, says Babcock.

    Taking care of cars and customers

    Wiesbaden’s auto skills center is staffed with mechanics that can provide advice, technical support, answer technical questions and help guide POV owners through their self-service projects.

    However, for car owners who are not mechanically inclined, or who want someone else to handle their car repair needs, there are other options.

    The center offers automotive repairs and services performed by their trained and certified automotive mechanics.

    Offering this service is what makes the Wiesbaden Auto Skills Center an “enhanced” center, according to Babcock.

    “Here we offer skilled staff mechanics who can answer the tough questions and help guide the car owner through their service projects,” he added. "As an enhanced car care center, we have mechanics doing full service.”

    Army mechanics to auto mechanics

    The center’s mechanics are always eager to assist and guide car owners who want to do the work themselves.

    Babcock added, that he and his five certified mechanics are either National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) or German trained and certified mechanics.

    That base of knowledge and expertise is what keeps U.S. Army Europe and Africa Operations NCO Staff Sgt. Paul Jimenez coming back to the auto skills center.

    Stationed on Clay Kaserne twice, Jimenez built a rapport with many of the mechanics he met during his first assignment to Wiesbaden – many who are still on staff.

    Jimenez was in one of center’s ten bays working on his BMW to replace light bulbs, brake lines and a seal, during his most recent visit to the automotive facility.

    That legacy of expertise and willingness to lend a guiding hand, makes it his first stop when he needs to make repairs to his vehicles, he said.

    “They [mechanics] are really good guys…always helpful and willing to help guide me making my repairs (…) they are on it,” said Jimenez.

    Being able to perform some of his own repairs is a huge benefit to Jimenez, while still having access to the center’s facilities and extensive knowledge base, he explained. Using the center’s bays and tools, also saves him money.

    “We get people here working on their car every day, that will grab one of us [mechanics] for advice,” added Babcock.

    Babcock’s journey towards becoming an expert auto mechanic dates to his time as a Soldier and light-wheeled vehicle mechanic in the U.S. Army.

    After his time in the Army and additional training at Central Texas College’s Europe campus, he earned his master certification and advanced engine performance certifications from the ASE.

    He has been a fixture at the center since before the facility moved from Mainz Kastel to its current location on Clay North in 2012.

    Legacy-leading expertise

    Enoch Jackson is a prime example of the legacy of expertise and proficiency in the center, that keeps customers, such as Jimenez, coming back.

    A regular fixture at the center, Jackson – who goes by Jack – learned his trade while working at a nationally recognized U.S. dealership where he received his certification as a mechanic.
    Jack, like Babcock, served in the Army as a vehicle mechanic before becoming a certified automotive mechanic in the private sector.

    The Georgia native worked as a janitor and as certified bowling mechanic prior to coming to work for the garrison automotive facility in 1980.

    Jack has now been at the center for more than 40 years and, according to Babcock, was instrumental in establishing the center at its current location, after moving from Mainz Kastel.

    “Jack really helped me with the setup of equipment here, [while] running operations down at Mainz Kastel,” added Babcock.

    Code to customer success

    Saving money on service repairs, parts and labor is just one benefit to visiting the Wiesbaden Auto Skills Center.

    Another key benefit is having the expertise and information about American-made cars that is often not available outside the front gate in the German automotive care system.

    “We have better knowledge of American-manufactured cars here,” Babcock stated.

    The diagnostic system that allows automotive service agencies to connect to and talk to computer systems in American-made cars is not readily available in German car care facilities. Lack of this system makes it more challenging to identify faults and service needed for these cars.

    “They come back to us and say they [German automotive repairs shops] do not have the needed software to access computers in some American car brands.”

    Babcock thinks it’s important to stay on top of the newest technology, especially in the ever-changing auto industry, however he admitted that they cannot do it all.

    “Many newer cars have cameras and anti-collision radar technology that has to be calibrated, and that stuff we leave to the dealer side,” added Babcock.

    Labor-cost savings is another benefit for customers that decide to have their POVs serviced at the center.

    Car donations find second life

    Did you know that the center also offers car sales of refurbished, donated cars?

    According to Babcock the auto skills center processes 30 to 40 cars per month that are donated and inspected for possible resale. After inspection, some of these cars can be resold, with some work.

    “On average we identify only about two or three previously donated cars for resale,” said Babcock.

    Customers pay a small fee for the Wiesbaden Auto Skills Center to take their donated car, which covers the administrative work of filing German customs paperwork.

    The cars identified for resale are thoroughly inspected, faults are identified, and the faults that can be fixed, are repaired by Babcock and his team of certified mechanics. Babcock said that his intent is to bring the donated cars that have been identified for resale, as close to passing and inspection ready as possible.

    However, there are things that he and his team cannot fix and cars with those issues must be processed elsewhere.

    Prep your car, prep for savings

    Making an appointment can be a challenge at times, especially during peak business hours. To expedite the appointment process, customers are asked to know the make, model and year, and type engine in your vehicle.

    “This is a busy place – we are busy – and it sometimes takes two weeks to make an appointment,” said Babcock.

    It is recommended that customers are prepared to discuss service appointment availability options when you call to make an appointment to help speed up the process.

    “We do 600 or 700 oil changes a quarter – patience is key when trying to book an appointment time.”

    Babcock understands that it might be difficult to get through the phone lines, which can be frustrating to customers. He recommends sending an email that includes a phone number so the auto skills center can contact the customer.

    Customers can email the auto skills center through the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Morale, Welfare and Recreation website:

    “Always check with us first, we might be able to help you out and save you money,” added Babcock.



    Date Taken: 01.24.2024
    Date Posted: 01.25.2024 05:23
    Story ID: 462316
    Location: WIESBADEN, HE, DE

    Web Views: 100
    Downloads: 0