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CREF announces 2020 career fair schedule; shops seeking techs can man a booth

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Need technicians? The Collision Repair Education Foundation will give the industry a crack at thousands of auto body repair and other transportation skilled trade students with its 2020 career fair lineup.

The organization announced a spring and fall 2020 schedule on Tuesday it said “will include events being held in at least the top 25 markets nationwide that employ technicians.”

CREF opens up the events to “transportation” students, which means you get a crack at a broader pool of candidates besides those studying collision repair and refinishing. Students from mechanical repair, auto service, heavy-duty and diesel vo-tech programs also are invited. Considering that such “transportation” job seekers clearly have interest and experience in fixing motor vehicles, it shouldn’t be too hard to adapt them to a role in a body shop.

The career fairs kick off in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Jan. 24, 2020, in conjunction with the AutoRama, World of Wheels and Cavalcade of Customs show’s Student Day. CREF said more than 700 students are expected.

The career fairs continue to follow the Autorama show, setting up shop at the show’s Student Days in Indiana, Kansas, Illinois, Utah and Massachusetts through the spring.

At least two other events are tied to auto shows. On March 6, 2020, more than 300 students are expected to attend a job fair held alongside the Oklahoma City, Okla., Auto Show. On April 3, 2020, a CREF career fair during the Denver Auto Show is expected to draw 300 students.

CREF also plans to host more than 400 students at a career fair April 30, 2020, during the Carolina’s Educational Collision Conference.

Prices can vary for the spring and fall career fairs depending on how much the venue charges CREF. The organization said shops interested in a specific event should contact it to find out the cost for a booth or one of its six lead sponsor slots for that individual show.

However, CREF said repairers usually will be able to book a booth for roughly $1,000, which also includes access to the student resume registration list. Considering that the average repair order is three times that amount, even a small shop who’s able to convert a candidate into a filled vacancy should realize a ROI virtually immediately.

Repairers also can claim one of six lead sponsorships available for each show. CREF said this option usually comes in around $3,000. In addition to the booth and resume list, sponsors get to place their logo on the professional technician workshirts students wear to the event and can host a breakout session for the would-be employees.

CREF for its fall 2019 lineup required lead sponsors to commit at least 30 days prior to an event so logos could make it onto shirts. So if you’re interested in the Pittsburgh event, you might want to hustle.

“These events are unique opportunities for dealers, service managers, collision centers, and others to meet hundreds of future transportation industry professionals,” CREF development director Brandon Eckenrode said in a statement. “Tool and equipment companies have also taken advantage of these events for brand awareness through product demonstrations and sponsoring the event’s student technician shirts. We invite the transportation industry to join in helping to showcase the many different career paths available to attending students.

To participate or learn more, contact CREF development and marketing coordinator Tiffany Bulak at or 847-586-5332.

Here’s the full lineup known to date:


Pittsburgh, Pa., Jan. 24, 2020. More than 700 students expected.

Indianapolis, Ind., Feb. 7. More than 250 students.

Kansas City, Kan., Feb. 21. More than 600 students.

Chicago, Ill., March 6. More than 1,000 students.

Oklahoma City, Okla., March 6. More than 300 students.

Salt Lake City, Utah, March 13. More than 500 students.

Boston, Mass., March 20. More than 600 students.

New York City, N.Y., April 2. More than 250 students.

Denver, Colo., April 3. More than 300 students.

Orlando-Tampa Bay, Fla., April 9. More than 500 students

Atlanta, Ga., April 21. More than 250 students.

North and South Carolina, April 30. More than 400 students.

Philadelphia, Pa., May 7. More than 250 students.

San Antonio, Tex., TBD. More than 300 students.

Connecticut, TBD. More than 300 students.


Saint Louis, Mo., Oct. 2. More than 600 students.

Detroit, Mich., Oct. 14-15. More than 700 students.

Southern California, TBD. More than 200 students.

Northern California, TBD. More than 200 students.

Dallas, Tex., TBD. More than 250 students.

Houston, Tex., TBD. More than 300 students.

Seattle, Wash., TBD. More than 250 students.

Miami, Fla., TBD. More than 300 students.

Washington, D.C./Baltimore, Md., TBD. More than 200 students.


A Collision Repair Education Foundation career fair is shown. (Provided by CREF)

A Collision Repair Education Foundation career fair is held in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 2017. (John Huetter/Repairer Driven News)

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