BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. – When it comes to a growing business, you often need more hands to help out.
Josh Weeks created his own business, Wicked Diesel, back in 2014. Growing up as a kid, Weeks always had a passion for working on cars and trucks.
“When I started taking Auto-Tech in high school that’s when I knew that I wanted to work on vehicles for a living and that’s all I wanted to do,” Weeks said.
When the business first started, it was just Weeks and one other guy that ran the entire business. Phone calls, ordering parts, working on trucks, payments ... all of it.
Over the years the business has grown to a point where the customer base is all throughout Virginia and even some regular clients from North Carolina and West Virginia.
Weeks knew his business would need some extra help and he wanted to make sure the employees would be qualified people. He was eventually approached by the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry with an idea.
“The department of labor approached me about doing the apprenticeship program, I already knew it was something that I wanted to do. Maybe we can get kids from other districts, Campbell County, Roanoke, or Botetourt. So I think it’s a good fit for us,” Weeks said.
Student Apprenticeship Programs have expanded throughout Virginia. Areas like Roanoke have seen more and more students over the years become interested in doing an apprenticeship.
Wicked Diesel’s program is the first in Bedford County.
Some students in the area attend the Susie G. Gibson Science and Technology Center to take more of your Career and Technology Education (CTE) classes. Weeks was one of those kids growing up and now he wants to help future generations.
“A kid going through the auto-tech program or even a kid that doesn’t go through the auto-tech program that may be interested in doing this type of work … it’s very valuable for them to get in here and know what goes on in the shop and know how things operate before they graduate school,” Weeks said.
Gavin Woods attends the school during the day and is one of the first to join the apprenticeship program. He says he wanted to join to learn things you may not learn in the classroom environment.
“The eagerness to learn more. It was a lot easier to get through that in school and learn and be able to come work when I get out of school than do it the regular way,” Woods said.
Woods and Walker Morris are so far the only two to be accepted to the program but the shop is always looking for more. Weeks says the best way to get started is to stop by the shop or call them at (540)-587-3796.
Weeks believes in the auto-technician industry, the best way to learn is by doing.
“Learning in the shop is very valuable. You can learn a lot in the classroom but when you’re real-world … it’s night and day difference,” Weeks said.
Weeks hopes other businesses in the area will start to create similar programs for their specific fields of work.