A Training Legend: Frank Levesque
by Dale Malcolm
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Frank Levesque, trainer,
technical manager and franchise consultant for the Glass Doctor in Waco,
Texas, and to hear his thoughts on the industry. I’ll share a few of these
here, but first, some background on Levesque, who’s been in the industry
for nearly 30 years.
Levesque started in the glass industry with Soule Glass & Paint in
Maine and then moved to Demers Glass based in Massachusetts.
I personally met Levesque for the first time in 1986 when he became a
technical trainer for Portland Glass Co. in Westbrook, Maine. He had recently
rejoined the company after working in the commercial glazing business
for a number of years. He had also spent time as a shop foreman and then
a shop manager at Portland Glass.
Trained in auto, residential and commercial glass work, Levesque brought
a wealth of experience to his role as technical trainer. That combined
with his positive can-do attitude made him a valuable asset to the retail
glass shops he supported.
Levesque’s role as technical trainer eventually evolved to include employee
safety and OSHA compliance for the entire company. It was here that his
energy and enthusiasm carried him through the difficult transition and
the establishment of a world-class culture of safety in a difficult and
sometimes dangerous business.
In 1993, Levesque left Portland Glass when the opportunity to join Equalizer
Industries arose. It was at Equalizer that he gained valuable experience
in developing ideas from technicians into tools and being exposed to the
international auto glass market.
Over the next 12 to 15 years he worked for several other well known auto
glass tool manufacturers including Reid Manufacturing and Fein Power Tools.
Levesque spent three years as the national accessory sales manager for
Pilkington North America prior to joining Glass Doctor.
Anyone that has attended one of Levesque’s demonstrations or seminars
at a trade show or conference has seen his talent for conducting a difficult
technical demonstration with the knowledge, charm and presence that not
only informs but also entertains.
DM: In today’s difficult business environment,
what is your biggest training challenge?
FL: Time. It is difficult to find time for owner/managers to pull employees
out of the field and send them in for training. It is always difficult
to convince franchisees of the value of this training. Long-term employees
are a special challenge because when technology changes, it is hard to
forget old methods that worked once but are no longer are effective.
DM: What was your best training
FL: My best training experience was when I was in Europe representing
Fein Power tools, working with the company engineers developing tools
and blades, several of which are still very popular. The European glass
installers were very focused on quality and precision due to the nature
of the high-end vehicles on which they worked. These vehicles were expected
to last much longer than those in the United States. The time spent working
with people in organizations like Carlite and I-CAR also has helped me
immensely to polish the skills I use everyday in developing training materials.
DM: Where do you turn when looking for training
materials and technical information?
FL: The Internet has become the first stop for a lot of information from
vendors. When that is not good enough, networking with technical contacts
in the industry is a good alternative source of information. The list
of various suppliers in the back of AGRR and USGlass magazines has been
an excellent source for locating vendors (see page 50).
DM: How do you see training changing in the
next ten years?
FL: High-quality training will be even more vital to be able to keep up
with changes in technology. The value of training always has to be sold
and not just taken for granted. It also is important to try constantly
to instill the drive and confidence to sell and provide high-value service
to the customer.
Dale Malcolm is technical services manager for Dow Automotive
in Dayton, Ohio. His opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those
of this magazine.
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