Chicago Auto Show Blog

Operation Troop Train: Providing Vets a Vehicle for Success

Posted by: Jennifer Morand

Operation Troop Train: Providing Vets a Vehicle for Success2013 TroopTrain Medium Lockup 4C 01

On a mission to provide vets a vehicle for success, the Chicago Automobile Trade Association, producer of the Chicago Auto Show, hosted an automotive sales training and job fair yesterday for returning military personnel. The CATA partnered with the Illinois Department of Employment Security to identify veteran candidates who were interested in undergoing the two-day training and meeting with local CATA dealerships. Held for the very first time, the CATA created Operation Troop Train as a pilot program to lay the groundwork for what will hopefully become an ongoing, quarterly initiative.

The two-day training was led by Lee Eddy, founder of Leed Performance Inc., who provided the candidates with a terrific foundation of the dealership business and prepared them for the one-on-one interviews with dealer representatives. Lee opened the training with a message that seemed to resonate with the candidates: "People can buy a red or blue piece of metal within five to 10 miles in any direction, but it’s the dealership personnel that are the differentiating factor." He also discussed the importance of communication and working within teams to produce the best possible outcome – skills the veterans understand extremely well from military experience.

Sadly, some employers don’t recognize the value of military training or that veteran skills are easily transferable to other areas of work. CATA Chairman Kurt Schiele countered this theory: "Some of the best employees at my dealerships are veterans. Servicemen and women are willing to put their life on the line for their job; if that doesn’t show commitment and dedication, I don’t know what does."

The CATA is hopeful that the veterans took something away from Operation Troop Train, whether full-time jobs come to fruition or the robust training becomes just another differentiator to set candidates apart.

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