Technician’s passion makes him international champ

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Stacy Vogel
Friday, May 2, 2008
— Mike Cole is a man of passion.

His blue eyes sparkle as he talks excitedly about his interests, from building a racecar to playing with his 4-year-old son, Isaac.

“My dad always told me, ‘If you ever get a chance to learn anything new, do it,’” the 25-year-old Milton man said.

Cole took that advice to heart in his chosen profession, car repair. His learning paid off last week when he placed in the bronze level at the Kia World Skill Cup in South Korea, making him one of the top six Kia technicians in the world.

He competed against 51 technicians from 40 countries, including three others from the United States, to win the award.

Cole’s already illustrious career in car repair almost didn’t happen. He considered studying drama after graduating high school in Minnesota but decided he’d rather have a career that would let him settle down and raise a family.

He earned a degree in automotive service from St. Cloud Technical College and continued to learn all he could about cars. He’s a master technician for Kia and Ford and also is trained to handle diesel and hybrid vehicles.

“I call myself a broken car specialist,” he said.

Michael Hoerstmann, service manager and Cole’s supervisor at Capitol Ford & Kia in Madison, said Cole is always willing to learn something new.

“He does a lot of studying,” Hoerstmann said. “He takes a lot of pride in what he does and his knowledge.”

Cole took second place in the national Kia competition out of 76 competitors. Then it was on to the international competition in South Korea. Technicians faced a grueling written test and hands-on tests involving engine repair, engine performance and electrical systems.

He enjoyed the competition, but the best part was touring the country and meeting people from all over the world, he said. He was surprised to see how much they all had in common.

“The guys from Syria, I think, were the nicest people I ever met in my life,” he said.

Cole isn’t sure where he’ll go from here. He’s not eligible to compete in the Kia competition again, but he hopes to compete in a similar Ford competition next year. He jokes he might have to learn to fix airplanes next.

“I have just about all the training I can get,” he said.

Meanwhile, he’s enjoying his work and sharing his passion with his son. Isaac’s favorite movie is “Cars,” and he loves riding in his dad’s racecar.

“I can tell, he’s got an eye for cars,” Cole said.

Last updated: 9:14 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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