Motor Age and PTEN are committed to supporting young technicians in the automotive aftermarket and we want to shine a spotlight on those who are paving a successful path in the industry. This is part of a monthly series to showcase the best young talent in our industry.
Hazem Tuqan has been around cars his entire life. From following along at his father’s heels as he worked in his autobody shop, Best Car Care in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to eventually heading off to automotive school after leaving his career as a biomedical technician, Hazem feels like he’s always been destined to work in the industry.
At the center of each of the young technician's answers and stories is the man who raised him. Whenever Tuqan had time off from school, he was there at his dad’s side, asking questions of the technicians despite his own nervousness around the cars.
When his father left for Jordan for a family emergency, Tuqan took over for him for two weeks and fell even more in love with the shop environment. Upon his father's return, Tuqan told him there was no other job for him, he wanted to work at the shop fixing cars.
With the knowledge that he would go through automotive school and get his technician degree, Tuqan began the process of climbing his way up to where he is now. Now, with automotive school and years of experience under his belt, Tuqan has donned many hats during his time in the automotive industry.
Tuqan manages to balance both family and work, remaining successful in raising his son and keeping the shop up to date with the newest programs. He's taken a special interest in helping the younger members of his team to become better technicians.
Tuqan, for all of his accomplishments and hard work, made it into the top ten candidates for the second annual PTEN and Motor Age Best Young Tech Award.
Motor Age and PTEN sat down with the young technician to learn more about him and his story.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career?
"Be honest and treat everyone equally." That I learned from my father. My father was actually a mechanic in the automotive industry. He owned his shop for 40-plus years and recently passed away.
What is your dream car?
A '76 Chevy Corvette. I like all older Chevy models, but that one's the top one.
What is the most random item in your toolbox?
The most random item in my toolbox would be a fishing bait. A hook can be pretty useful if you're trying to hook something.
What are your career aspirations?
Really and truly I feel like I'm pretty much there now. I'm running the shop now, I'm the boss, I'm the tech, and I'm the service writer. My main goal was to be where I am now, but I didn't think it would be so early. It did come early, but I was definitely prepared for it, and I've done a lot of great things for the business. I actually boosted the business sales and got some commercial contracts.
I'm really happy, and I've achieved the goals that I wanted to. There are definitely more goals and I learn every day. That's the thing with these cars. Nowadays, you have to keep reading. If you're not reading, you're not going to learn anything and you’re not going to be able to fix any of the new stuff.
What is your favorite tool and why?
My favorite tool would be a screwdriver pick. It could be used for a lot of different things in the automotive industry. For example, it can be used for electrical connectors that are hard to get your fingernails in. It’s very small, but it has a lot of impact.
How did you first become interested in the automotive industry?
I’ve been around automotive shops all my life, I’ve been in it since I was able to walk. I was kind of like my dad’s shadow, always with him around the shop, but to be honest I wasn’t really that interested when I first started going around it. It was really hard. I would see all these cars broken down and I’d ask the tech, how are you going to put this all back together? I was afraid of it, but as I grew up I started tinkering with more things and I just fell in love.
If you weren’t in the automotive industry, what would you be doing?
Before I went to automotive school I actually got a degree in fixing medical equipment. When I first graduated high school, I got pushed away from the automotive stuff by my mom. She said, "You don’t want the stress. You don’t want the dirtiness. You don’t want this." So I got sidetracked a little bit, but a person that’s in love with something, he’s always going to find his way back.
After that, I told my dad I didn’t want to work in the medical field, I wanted to work in the shop. He told me I needed to go to school to work in his shop, so he sent me to school even though I didn’t want to go to school again but I knew I had to.
How did you get your first job?
My dad; that’s where I got my first job. He hired me while I was in school. I’d go to school from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and then at 2 p.m. I’d come to the shop and get hands-on experience. That’s why I was head of my class.
When I went to automotive school, I kind of felt like a genius which is something I never felt in regular school. The teacher got to the point where he’d say, "You can’t answer all the questions. You have to give the other kids a chance."
What is the most challenging or memorable repair you’ve worked on?
That would have to be a 2009 Audi. It was a seven-engine swap. I’ll never forget it because it was my first Audi engine swap and it was very intense. I think it called for about 30 hours. When I had the motor out, I had a guy helping me at the time, and the whole car was in a million pieces. I couldn’t forget about it, it was so memorable. That was around when I first graduated, about 2013 or 2014.
We took the whole front cap off as well as the headlights and bumper. Then we had to recalibrate all the camera systems in the front.