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Yadkin Valley technician among 153 honored in Detroit

Jun 01, 2023

An employee of Yadkin Valley Motor Co. in North Wilkesboro was among 153 Ford auto technicians and one guest apiece recently treated by Ford Motor Co. to an all-expenses-paid long weekend of special experiences called Motor City Homecoming in Detroit, Mich.

Kevin Phillips and the other 152 honorees became Ford senior master technicians by each completing 72 training courses (15 in-person and 57 online) and five years of service at a Ford or Lincoln. They became 20-year senior master technicians by maintaining this status for at least 20 years, which meant taking every new required training and two elective courses per year.

Phillips said he has taken about 750 courses, each from 45 minutes to two hours long and with a combination of in person (in Charlotte and Atlanta) and online instruction. Primary areas of instruction are engine, chassis and drive train. Phillips is a senior master technician in gas, diesel and electric motor systems.

Phillips said the biggest change he has seen during his career is the computerization of motors. He said the nationwide shortage of auto technicians also is notable. Ford estimates there is a need for over 80,000 automotive technicians annually across the industry.

Phillips’ guest was his father, Jerry Phillips of the Creston community in Ashe County. Phillips lives in North Wilkesboro but is an Ashe native and graduated from Northwest Ashe High School and Wilkes Community College. He has been employed at Yadkin Valley Motor Co. since 1995. Phillips also was an automotive instructor at WCC for 10 years.

Ford Motor Co. flew the 153 honorees and their guests to Detroit on Aug. 4. Phillips said it was the first time his father has flown. Jerry Phillips retired from TRW Inc. in Boone, which made automotive parts.

They stayed at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel on Washington Boulevard in Detroit.

Phillips, 46, said he was among the youngest of the 153 honored. He said the experience was like going on a luxury ocean cruise, referring to how well they were treated.

The Motor City Homecoming weekend began with a welcome dinner hosted by Ford Motor Co. executives. There also was an award ceremony at the Detroit Masonic Temple. Phillips said he met Henry Ford’s great-grandson.

Phillips said the first full day included visiting Greenfield Village (collection of historic districts) and Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, Mich., and Ford Piquette Avenue Plant (birthplace of Ford Model T) in Detroit.

The next day included visiting the Ford Rouge Factory in Dearborn, a working factory where many Ford F-150 pickups are built. Phillips said he was impressed by the robotics in the factory.

The honorees and their guests received special treatment when they attended the Firekeepers 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway on the third day. This included traveling to and from the speedway in the left lane in a bus escorted by two Michigan state troopers.

Names of the 153 honorees were painted on sides of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang driven by Harrison Burton. They got to meet and talk with Burton and watch the race from near the pit.

Phillips said the honorees flew home on Aug. 8, each with a watch and other gifts they received.

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