May 24, 2024

The life of an auto man.


This archived article was written by: Priscilla A. Sharp

Todd Richardson started as an auto parts person in 1979 when he was 10. His dad started an auto shop in Price and the young Richardson worked part time, coming home from school and working from 3 to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays. He stayed in the automotive business until 2003. In between those time periods, he graduated from the College of Eastern Utah with his associate degree in science as well as an applied science degree in welding, and transferred to Utah State University where he lived in Logan for 10 years.

While Richardson was there, he started in the engineering program, moved to the business program then to the accounting program, trying to find where he wanted to be in life. Through all of these different decisions, he finally came to a conclusion. He stated “I found out that I loved automotive.” So that’s where he decided to stay.

Richarson’s full time employment in parts started in 1987, which he continued for 16 years. After that he started servicing vehicles and was a service manager for nine years. His long list of achievements as a parts person includes: inside sales, outside sales, store manager, parts department manager for a General Motors dealership and service manager for a GM dealership. He was a district sales manager for Checkers which is now O’Reilly Auto Parts. He was in charge of multiple stores throughout the state: Logan, Brigham City, Ogden, North Ogden, West Valley and after a while he lost Brigham City and gained Tooele. This seemed like only a blip in his life though because it was only for three months.

For two years, Richardson worked for Auto Leave Inc. building controlled pipe bombs to inflate air bags, and he also worked for a parts store. His schedule meant waking up at 6 a.m. on Monday morning, driving to work at the parts store and working the 8 to 5 shift on weekdays, then through the weekend he would go to work at 6 a.m., come home at 6 p.m. and repeat for the rest of the weekend until Monday morning when he would start all over again.

Richarson came to Utah State University Eastern, not as an automotive instructor, but for custom fit training, a program from the state that helps small businesses train employees. He had funding to help pay for part of student’s training and did this for a year and a half. When the position opened as an automotive instructor for the university, that is where Richardson stayed.
Richarson’s first semester as an instructor, the carpentry teacher quit and it was suggested that Richardson take over the class and help the students finish building the house they were working on.

Richardson says the hardest part about teaching the automotive classes is trying to figure out the most important elements to teach. You’re only given a small amount of time and there is so many wonderful opportunities about the automotive classes that it’s not easy deciphering the pieces most needed. He said, “What I would hope is that every student who comes to my classes will leave with the ability of knowing the system or systems that I teach. So if they’re faced with a problem in a car they are able to narrow it down and fix it.”

The most satisfactory part of Richarson’s week isn’t something he accomplishes himself. “I am only satisfied if I see a level of understanding come to someone and I see the light bulb turn on. I like to see that understanding come over someone and that ‘Oh I get it’ look come to their face.”

If money didn’t matter and he could have absolutely any job in the world, he would either be a Nascar driver or a bass angler. Instead of modifying his car, he chooses to modify his snowmobiles. He also enjoys gardening, hunting, fishing and remodeling houses.

For anyone interested in the automotive classes, Richardson says that they aren’t just for people who are interested in majoring in auto. Nobody wants to be the guy on the side of the road who doesn’t know how to change his tire. The instructors love their automotive students, but would love to see many more non-automotive majors take their classes, even if its just for fun.