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Versailles Capstone Program: Training the Next Generation of Mechanics

Posted on: March 22, 2024
Young Classic Carriers mechanics infront of a black Classic Carriers truck.

Real-world work experience. A direct path to a job. No, it’s not a college education – it’s Versailles High School’s capstone program.

The capstone program is open to juniors and seniors and is run in partnership with Future Farmers of America (FFA), an organization that prepares youth for successful careers in agricultural-related trades. While completing their high school education, students can work part-time with a local business like Classic Carriers.

How the Versailles Capstone Works

Classic Carriers has been a Versailles High School capstone partner for more than six years. Shop manager Wes Subler supervises and mentors local students interested in learning diesel mechanics – an in-demand career as the need for truck drivers grows.

Subler works with Versailles High School teachers to identify interested students and interview them for an apprenticeship. If selected, students can begin working with Classic the summer before their junior year to get acquainted with the shop prior to classes. Once the semester starts, they work part-time and continue to train with Classic through their senior year. 

The shop provides each participant with a toolbox of essentials, which they can keep if they decide to work with Classic full-time upon graduation. 

From Basic Mechanics to Thinking Like a Mechanic

Versailles capstone students working with Classic Carriers learn everything from basic mechanics and diagnostic technology to troubleshooting vehicle issues and safety best practices. They also learn to be self-starting, cooperative members of a team.

“It doesn’t matter if you’ve been here six months or 20 years,” Subler said, “Everybody will still change a tire. Everybody will still clean when we need to.”

For Subler, it’s rewarding to watch students build confidence through the program. Some of the students he’s brought on over the years started off soft-spoken and quiet but grew into themselves through the program.

“This gets them some real-world experience, something they believe they want to do for the rest of their lives, and it really opens them up and kind of gets them into adulthood,” he said.

Shared Benefits for Classic Carriers, Capstone Students, and Community

For local students, the capstone program offers invaluable insight into a career in mechanics. For Classic Carriers, it’s an important employment pipeline for their shop team and a way to support the community.

Of the four Versailles High School students who did a capstone apprenticeship with Classic Carriers, two of them are still with the company. A further 50 percent of our shop are graduates of other local apprenticeship and capstone programs. 

Cory Timmerman, a Versailles graduate from the capstone program who still works with Classic Carriers, said the program offered a chance to explore the industry and decide that this is a career worth pursuing. He’s stayed with Classic because of the laid-back work environment and the ability to work at his own pace.

2024 Versailles High School graduate Dominic Barga will also be joining the shop full-time in May. “Working with Classic influenced me by giving me a head start into being a mechanic and seeing if it was really something I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” he shared. 

Versailles Ohio FFA making Classic Carriers an honorary FFA member.

This year, Classic Carriers was inducted as an honorary FFA member for their work with local students and support of the organization. Giving back to the community is an important part of our ethos. We’ll continue to support FFA by hauling fruit for their fruit sale, providing donations, and more. 

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