The Automotive Management Institute announced Tuesday it hired longtime Nissan trainer and former dealership service technician Chuck Searles as its new president.
Searles has already started the position, which has been empty since former President Jeff Peevy stepped down and returned to I-CAR at the end of July.
AMi is a key training organization for both mechanical service repair and collision repair front-office staff. Its credentials range from 30-credit-hour customer service certificates to the 180-hour “AMAM” accredited master automotive manager designation. The collision credential portfolio adds two estimator designations, one requiring 45 credit hours and another calling for 55.
“I’m honored and excited to serve the Board of Trustees and the ever-expanding client base as President of AMi,” Searles said in a statement.
Searles started out as a dealer service technician in 1992, and served in that capacity for three different dealers. In 2001, Nissan hired him in a technical service support role, kicking off a nearly two-decade career at the OEM. He went on to work as a technical training instructor, sales training senior planner, training operations manager and technical training instructional design manager, holding the last role from July 2016 until the AMi job.
“We are ever so pleased to announce Chuck Searles as the new president of AMI. Chuck comes with an immense background in business management, personal leadership, analytics, organizational development, curriculum design, problem solving and classroom instruction,” AMi Chairman Darrell Amberson (LaMettry’s Collision) said in a statement. “His relationships and understanding of vehicle manufacturers will be an asset. We are confident that Chuck will oversee the continuing growth and prevalence of AMI, leading it to new higher levels of performance and achievement.”
AMi has since 2019 taught courses FCA requires or recommends for certified collision shops. (Uncertified shops are also welcome to enroll in the classes.) It’ll be interesting to see if Searles’ deep OEM background opens the door for partnerships with any other automakers. Peevy at the time of the 2019 FCA announcement said AMi had been talking with other OEMs.
Searles even has recent experience as a student. A fun August 2019 Middle Tennessee State News article reports he enrolled to finish his bachelor’s after 18 years.
“Instead of not having a lot of experience and then thinking ‘I can use this in the future,’ I can put this in the application right now,” he told the MTSU News.
The newspaper reported this meant he was attending the same college as his high school senior daughter Madisyn, who at the time was about to take her first class in a dual-enrollment program.
Searles can be reached at email@example.com, AMi said.
Automotive Management Institute, Sept. 2, 2020
Featured image: Automotive Management Institute President Chuck Searles is shown. (Provided by AMi)