Al Andreassen, pictured above with Dean of Instructional Technology Paul Axtell, graduated from Auto Repair Technician program in 1980. We reconnect with Andreassen about his LWTC experience after thirty years.
Working on cars and motorcycles was Al Andreassen's childhood.
Al always liked cars and motorcycles. In his youth, he remembers working on engines with his family. Decades later, it seems only natural that he found a rewarding career in auto mechanics, and would gravitate the short distance to Lake Washington Technical College's Automotive Technician program.
Initially Andreassen had other ideas. "I decided to attend community college," he recalls, "but after a couple quarters I knew if just wasn't for me. I needed something more hands-on." The more he thought about what he wanted to do, the more he kept coming back to automotive mechanics. Deciding to turn his hobby into a career, he enrolled at what was then Lake Washington VoTech and attended classes at the Redmond campus. That was in 1979. Today, over 30 years later, he's the manager at Europa Imported Service LLC, a Bellevue shop specializing in SAAB, Volvo, BMW, and Mini-Cooper automotive repairs. The family-run shop focuses on providing high-quality automotive service with an emphasis on customer care.
Andreassen credits the training he received at LWTC for his success. "I received more on-the-job training in six months at LWTC than I could have gotten in two years of schooling. It really gives you an edge when applying for a job."
He specifically remembers two teachers who guided his path: Paul Axtell, LWTC's current Dean of Instructional Technology, and Jay Munson, a former automotive technology instructor.
"Both were knowledgeable and had the ability to keep students focused. The instructors treated students with respect. I can honestly say I looked forward to going to class every day."
"I definitely remember Al," says Axtell, who was then a young instructor teaching his first classes at LWTC. "Al was a young guy, but I could see he'd be a success based on his enthusiasm and attention to detail. That's why he's gone on to do great things."
Andreassen landed his first automotive technology job from a contact he made in class. A fellow student told Al about an opening for a mechanic at the nearby Volvo dealership. Al applied for and got the job.
He worked there for three years before joining Europa in 1983. There, Andreassen honed his automotive experience and has since become the shop manager. He handles the day-to-day responsibilities of the business along with scheduling repairs and ordering parts and supplies. His boss and father-in-law, Keith Jephcott, handles the books. The thriving shop has a reputation for quality service and customer loyalty. They recently doubled their shop space and added BMW and Mini-Cooper service to their offers.
Andreassen frequently returns to LWTC to keep current on automotive repair trends. He has completed training on Washington state emission standards and completed a motorcycle safety class at the college.
"LWTC keeps you focused on your career path. The courses are germane, the curriculum is hands-on, and the instructors keep it interesting," he says. "I always recommend LWTC's program to people who ask me how to get into the business. It worked for me, and I know it will work for them."
Al Andreassen, Manager
Europa Imported Service
Bellevue, WA 98005