Empowering the Next Generation Through Car Restoration
Here at Innovative Tools, being innovative is about redefining the auto body industry by creating high-quality products and investing in the next generation of auto body technicians. Innovative Tools has worked to become a leader in the auto body repair industry by improving parts management and efficiency, but there is more work to be done.
As more schools are cutting funding for shop classes, there is a need, now more than ever, to teach and advocate for our youth interested in learning auto body repair industry skills. That’s why Innovative Tools & Technologies sponsors Rebuilding Generations, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing generations together through car restoration.
Inspired by what Kevin Keep, owner and founder of Rebuilding Generations, is doing through his mentorship program, we asked him to give us some insight into his own experience investing in the next generation of youth.
“This program is not about cars – it’s about you, it’s about men and women giving back, paying it forward and not talking about the problems in society, but being a part of the solution,” Kevin tells us.
Kevin started this program because he noticed that there was an obvious divide between younger and older generations. “Everybody talks about the youth saying that they’re not into cars, they’re into electronics and games. So I said, “Well, what are you doing to engage the youth? How are you getting them involved?”
He realized that the problem wasn’t that kids aren’t interested in cars, it’s about adults not investing in the kids that look up to them. Kevin says “When you’re in your garage working on your car and a kid is riding their skateboard in front of your house 10 or 15 times trying to see what you’re working on, you close the garage doors because you don’t want to be bothered. Basically, you’re telling them to go away instead of inviting them in to see what it’s all about.”
“We sit in these boardrooms, we sit in these meetings, we sit in these churches and bitch about these millennials saying they’re not motivated and they’re entitled, but we’re not doing anything about it. We’re not making a difference. We’re not making the change.”
Knowing where to begin and how to start the conversation of change can be difficult, which is why Kevin took matters into his own hands.
“I was sitting there thinking, how do I get these kids involved? How do I get them to realize there’s so much wisdom from the older generations? They don’t even have a clue the wealth of knowledge that is there.” Kevin asked some local community members if they would be willing to invest in some kids by restoring an old car together with the condition that the kids were willing to pay attention and learn.
With a compiled team of knowledgeable mechanic hobbyists and eager-to-learn youth, Rebuilding Generations was created. While the program has been an overall success, there have been moments where funding faltered. After a brief period of time where Rebuilding Generations had to shut down, the program received a generous donation of a ‘69 Charger to help the foundation stay afloat. Board members discussed auctioning off the car to get cash to keep the program alive.
But, Kevin saw an opportunity to save the program and invest in a car that his daughter was passionate about and could restore. Kevin and his wife decided to dig deep into their pockets and buy the ‘69 Charger. For Kevin, buying the charger meant saving the program, but also, an opportunity to get girls involved, starting with his daughter. “I told my daughter ‘here’s the deal, you can drive the car, but you and your girlfriends have got to put it back together.’ So we had girls come into the [Rebuilding Generations] program.”
As Rebuilding Generations regained funding and investments, the community of young innovators grew. Not only are Rebuilding Generations’ mentors teaching youth how to rebuild cars, but they are also teaching youth how they can make a bigger impact on society. Rebuilding Generations is able to repair cars and build up youth by enabling them to restore cars and understand that their ability to impact and change a car, can be transferred to other areas of their lives.
Kevin often uses car analogies to help teach the youth important life lessons. One of his favorite messages he teaches in the program is as follows:
“Sometimes you’ve got to start with the interior and you’ve got to change the inside. You’ve got to change the heart because nobody really cares what the outside looks like unless the insides running right, and the inside looks good.”
Youth come out of the Rebuilding Generations program as productive, respectful members of society thanks to the wonderful auto body community who sponsor and support this program. Rebuilding Generations has transformed the participating youth, some of whom have returned to the program as adults, to pass on their industry knowledge.
By investing in the next generation, we are creating a community that values hard work, self-improvement, and passion for the auto body industry. When you invest in programs like Rebuilding Generations, you’re reminding youth that they’re worth investing in, a value that raises their self-esteem and allows them to graduate the program with tangible life skills.
“The shop classes of our youth are being eliminated. We need to work together to grow and support the next generation of auto body leaders” Bryan Johnson, owner Innovative Tools & Technologies
“So what’s stopping you from being a mentor? Being an impactor? Being the innovator?”
Don’t have an answer? Then it’s time to join the Innovative Community and become a part of something bigger.
The Innovative Community empowers our nation’s youth to be the next generation of industry leaders. When you choose Innovative Tools products, you become a part of something bigger. Your purchase means the on-going support and donation of money and materials to schools and youth auto body programs across the country.
About Innovative Tools
Innovative Tools and Technologies is dedicated to helping customers be more efficient, productive, and profitable.
Innovative's passions don't end there. With the creation of the Innovative Movement, we are saving shop classes and helping invest in the next generation of auto body technicians!