Angel Blog

Changing Lanes Helps Service Members Transition to Civilian Life

Returning to civilian life can be an unexpected challenge for military service members. Caliber Collision, a nationwide collision repair company, saw an opportunity to help make that transition easier while growing their workforce with dedicated, hardworking service members and founded the Changing Lanes program. Changing Lanes helps our heroes find the stability and satisfaction of a promising career in the collision and auto body industry.

The program offers 18 weeks of hands-on career skills training in the collision and auto body industry at no cost to the service member. Upon successful completion, participants are offered job placement opportunities at Caliber locations across the United States. Caliber Collision has over 500 collision centers across 17 states that offer a number great benefits and career growth opportunities to employees.

Changing Lanes Q&A with Doug Willberg, Director, Technical Training, Caliber Collision Center

How did Changing Lanes come about?

The program was developed by Caliber Collision in the Raleigh area (near Fort Bragg) in 2014. I was a master technician who trained some of the service members who came through. We recognized immediately the strong skill set they have. Military personnel were the perfect fit – they have the same core values as we do (do the right thing, inspire others, be courageous, take pride and have fun) and develop into great teammates. The pilot program was so successful that we decided to expand the program. Changing Lanes was started in November of 2016 in Fayetteville NC near Fort Bragg and soon after Caliber opened a second training location in Killeen Texas close to Fort Hood.

How many service members will go through your program this year?

Caliber has set a goal of training 500 service members through the program per year. This year we will graduate 130 service members, and by the end of the year there will be 230 enrolled.

What makes the collision and auto body industry a great career for service members?

Military personnel come from a very regimented, organized, and structured background. The auto body industry demands that same type of structure and organization. Technicians need to have more than just the knowledge, they need to have attention to detail and the ability to take cars apart and put them back together in a regimented way. We’ve found that thanks to the military training our troops receive, our military trainees quickly pick up the skills they need to be successful.

Beyond that, the skills needed in the auto body industry are highly valued and in great demand – which makes a career in our industry a great opportunity. Caliber Collision is a fast growing company and we’re always looking for hard working, highly skilled teammates.

How does this program help them transition?

Once enrolled, we work with each service member to make sure training goes smoothly and they get the guidance needed to complete the program. Upon successful completion of the 18 week program, we find employment opportunities within our company in cities and towns that they would like to live in. Caliber Collision operates in 509 locations in 17 states.

We try and make sure that there is no gap between training and employment and even provide them with a $12,000 toolkit so they have everything they need to be successful. They also strongly encouraged to be self starters and to work their way up in the company.

Recycled Rides event

Caliber is excited to be graduating its first cohort from the Fort Hood program in August.  As part of this graduation celebration Caliber Collision will be donating a vehicle, repaired and refurbished by the graduating Changing Lanes participants, to a deserving military veteran from Killeen, Texas nominated by Soldiers Angels, through the National auto Body Council  Recycled Rides(™)  program.

Recycled Rides is a collaborative program between insurers, collision repairers and parts paint partners. Caliber coordinates and oversees the vehicle repair and donates vehicles to individuals and service organizations in local communities throughout the country. You can read more about Recycled Rides on our blog here.

These two organizations are doing great things for our military service members! It just goes to show how giving back can create a ripple that keeps on going.

Caliber’s mission is to Restore The Rhythm Of Life. We believe both Changing Lanes and Recycled Rides programs represent Caliber’s passion to give back to the military community and our American military heroes who have sacrificed so much for our freedom.