Student-run auto shop planning to open on campus

Graphics design, marketing, business, and automotive classes to collaborate to open Rivals Auto

By Kate Rettig

In the fall, Rivals Auto will be rotating tires and changing oil as part of a student-run auto maintenance business at Lawrence High.

The automotive classes that combine LHS and Free State students inspired the name “Rival’s Auto.”

The new business will bring together students from four very different subjects: automotive, accounting, marketing and graphic design. The Automotive III class will work on cars while accounting students will do bookkeeping. Marketing students will help promote the program, while graphic design students will create designs for the shop, including a logo.

“The idea is to get teachers from very different areas but to get us together to collaborate on something,” graphic design teacher Barbara Tholen said. “You don’t just work isolated, you have something in common.”

The goal is to give students experience in the fields they study, such as working as a car technician. By running the automotive shop, they’ll communicate with customers, not just with teachers.

“We are trying to get the students in the class get ready for real world,” engineering teacher Charlie Lauts said. “Like if they go work for somebody, they are going to have to do it efficiently and correctly. Another thing is to able to interact with the customers. They’ll have to get the keys and talk about what needs to be done and communicate with them, so they’re not just doing the car.”

Services at the automotive shop will be limited to smaller maintenance tasks such as alignments, minor electrical issues and brakes. Profits made from the auto shop will go toward funding student participation competitions, such as the Skills USA competition.

Since it’s on school campus, other students and staff will benefit from the shop. Rival’s Auto will service student and staff cars at lower prices than those of other automotive shops. Sophomore Anthony Harvey said he likes the idea of students getting hands-on practice by working on cars.

“It would be good because they could practice what they would want to do,” Harvey said. “Also, it would have cheaper prices, and I wouldn’t have to go anywhere,”

Several details of the business need to be determined such as pricing, hours and management.

“We have to talk to the people at the ESDC to let them know the logistics of what we are doing,” automotive teacher Luke Lang said. “The people here at the school to let them know how to run their own shop. As of right now, we can’t tell the students because we don’t even know. We have to get there, but we aren’t quite there yet. We have big plans.”

Lang originally came up with the idea for the auto shop. His class already worked on maintaining cars, but he felt the simulation didn’t compare to the real world. The students rarely interacted with the customers, for example, which is an important skill to have as a technician.

Lang also wanted his classes to collaborate so not only the automotive students get a job experience, but the accounting, marketing and graphic design students as well.

“He wanted to run it like a business,” Tholen said. “He wanted to have marketing people market it and other people accounting like accounting class. I said my graphic design class could do the logos for it and some of the design for advertising.”

Like other student run businesses, such as The Lion’s Den, students will not be paid for their services. However, they will receive knowledge in a field in which they are interested.

“I think it’s a good idea,” graphic design and automotive student Kailyr Dey said. “The third class really get hands on experience with basically all of basic and standard maintenance as well as some rare maintenance. The Auto Shop we have here can already do that.”