Pickens’ Elmer Hernandez Named SkillsUSA National Refinishing Champion

Story submitted by Pickens Technical College Collision Repair Instructor Anthony Larson and Team

We are proud to announce that Pickens Technical College student Elmer Hernandez recently earned the title as SkillsUSA National Refinishing Champion for 2018.

As a high school senior, Hernandez competed against 13 contestants in Colorado’s state competition and placed first. This win led to him to compete in the national SkillsUSA Refinishing event against 37 contestants. His high scores in the refinishing categories (Feather/Prep for Prime, Primer Application, Prep for Base Coat, Base Clear Final Product, Masking, Paint Code Identification, Color Assessment, Estimating, Written Exam, and Job Interview) resulted in him winning top refinisher in the country!

Hernandez also earned advanced training classes from Sikkens, PPG, Axalta and Martin Senour. In addition, he was awarded a Snap-On tool box and tools, a Sata spray gun, a $500 Carhartt gift card, a $100 Lowe’s gift card and college scholarships.

Hernandez’s family arrived in the United States from El Salvador in 1995. After moving from California to Colorado in 2000, his father began work at Carstar as a body technician. He now runs his own collision business, Advanced Collision. Watching his father, Hernandez loved painting as a child and showed interest in the refinishing field at a young age. From his father, he learned the basic concepts of refinishing and through completing the Auto Collision program at Pickens, he learned technical skills that will help take his family’s business to the next level.

Hernandez’s humble family ingrained within him valuable workforce-readiness skills that have made him the polite, hardworking student he was at Pickens. Through his dedication to the craft and stellar attendance, Hernandez’s technical skills excelled. He was persistent in acquiring knowledge, asking clarifying questions, problem solving situations and, with keen attention to detail, completed difficult assignments and produced outstanding work. In team situations, Hernandez assisted his peers and participated as a group leader. He dressed professionally, conducted himself as a professional and had a desire to succeed.

Pickens Technical College Collision Repair Instructor Anthony Larson taught Hernandez throughout the program. Larson’s supports for second-language learners were purposeful and provided the foundation for Hernandez to achieve immediate success. The Collision Repair Education Foundation also provided assistance through donations of safety glasses and work shirts. The career fair sponsored by CREF provided Hernandez an opportunity to talk with industry experts. Members of the Occupational Advisory Committee for the Auto Collision program assisted with practice, tips and refining skills. Aims Community College provided additional refinishing practice. Alumni students taught skills for Hernandez’s practice and I-CAR modules provided additional instruction. Support from each aforementioned member of the collision industry played an integral role in helping Hernandez develop and master the skills needed to enter a competitive workforce.

Hernandez has a bright future in the refinishing industry. We are confident that his passion and talent will open doors to a successful future. He is looking forward to the possibility of representing the U.S. in the World Skills competition. We wish him the best in all of his endeavors.