Shawano teen earns top ranking at SkillsUSA

Wegner finishes sixth nationally for collision repair
By: 

Evan J. Pretzer news@wolfrivermedia.com

Thanks to mentoring from family and friends, Shawano teen Tyler Wegner was able to represent Wisconsin on the national stage at the SkillsUSA national championship in Kentucky last month.

Hosted by a Virginia-based 501(c)(3) organization focused on serving high school, college and middle school students interested in trade occupations, SkillsUSA’s national competition includes challenges for those interested in collision repair and even additive manufacturing. For Wegner, though the experience of competing against 40 other students was challenging, it was similar to smaller events he’d been to.

“I’ve been to other competitions before,” he said. “This was my first national competition I’d been to. There were way more people from a variety of different states, and just being there was an experience. Some of the stuff I wasn’t really familiar with … but I just did my best. I’m not a master technician, so I’m not 100 percent on everything.”

The son of Wegner’s Quality Auto Body owner Todd Wegner, 17-year-old Tyler got his start in repair work as a young man hanging around the family business. At first, he took out trash and cleaned cars, but has now worked his way up to detailing, washing and even has the respect of past employees.

“Ever since I was little I was just hanging around the shop,” Tyler Wegner said. “I just worked my way up as I got older. Before my most recent competition, Sam Busch (Precision PDR and Car Care LLC owner) came and helped me out. He’s a friend of my dads and worked here a few years back.”

Though Wegner’s future is not known at this time, father Todd Wegner believe competitions like the ones held by SkillsUSA (Tyler has previously won state competitions, as well) are good for the country and show his son has a high level of talent.

“I’m a very proud dad,” he said. “The national competition opened my eyes how much more is out there for the young people of tomorrow. For years our education system has had a tunnel vision where every student thinks they have to get a bachelor’s degree; that’s totally wrong today. As for Tyler, he has the potential to go in so many different directions more than what I had. Opportunities for him are really endless.”

DID YOU KNOW?

According to an April 2018 report on NPR, 70 percent of construction companies across the United States are having difficulty finding workers to fill available positions. In addition, the report also notes more than 30 million jobs in the nation paying above $55,000 per year don’t require bachelor’s degrees.