At a young age, Landon Maltese had an inkling he’d like to make a career out of working on vehicles.

“My stepdad and I worked a lot on cars in my younger years. He had his own shop with a lift, so at a young age I was helping to work on his projects. At first I was just handing him the tool he needed, but after time I was able to work on my own projects and cars,” said Maltese, 18, of Petoskey.

That early interest led Maltese to taking Automotive Technology courses at Petoskey High School, from where he graduated in 2023. “Auto shop really helped me decide what I wanted to do after high school,” said Maltese.

Today, the recent high school graduate works full time for Dave Kring’s Quick Lube service department. He is a quick-lube technician, with days starting at 7:50 a.m. to prep the shop for the 8 a.m. opening. While servicing vehicles for oil changes, Maltese also handles topping off tires for recommended tire pressures, checking fluids under the hood like coolant and washer fluid, and ensuring the engine air filter and cabin air filters are clean. 

Maltese’s entry into the workforce after graduation was recently recognized as part of Char-Em ISD’s Career Tech to Careers initiative. Career Tech to Careers recognizes students who take career tech classes during high school, such as Automotive Technology, and enter the workforce utilizing those CTE skills after graduation. The celebration events are organized by the ISD’s Career and Technical Education Department. 

Maltese’s supervisor, Theron Reibel, Dave Kring Service Manager, said with an opening pending at the shop, he had reached out to auto teacher Adam Hausler to see if he had graduating students in his program who were looking for employment after graduation. 

“Landon was one of the top students in the program and he has been doing a great job with us so far,” said Reibel. “He came to us with a good working knowledge of basic automotive maintenance and we have been building on that. Landon is dependable, punctual, and has a great attitude. He also realizes that being fresh out of high school, he has a lot to learn in the automotive repair field. These traits are all things we are looking for in any new hire.”

Maltese is eager to take it all in as he continues to learn the ropes, noting that “Dave Kring treats us really well and shows that he cares for his employees.” 

He added that the college route is not for all young people, and the skilled trades offer a good living. “There are so many trades out there looking for workers willing to get dirty and work. You have to take advantage of that,” he said.

“My goal right now is to become certified and become the best person I can be. Life is hard, but if you show that you have the will power and determination to do what you want to do, you will get there – but it takes time, and you have to stick with it.”

The Mansfield Family Foundation has offered its support to the Career Tech to Careers initiative with a grant that funds gift cards to students to purchase equipment and/or clothing necessary for their new careers.

Do you know a recent high school graduate who make a great feature for Char-Em ISD Career and Technical Education Department’s “Career Tech to Careers” initiative? If so, please fill out this form and submit to our CTE team!

Pictured, top:
Landon Maltese, seated at right, is pictured during a Career Tech to Careers signing event with Jim Rummer, Director of Career and Technical Education for Char-Em ISD (seated left); (back row, from left) Theron Reibel, Service Manager, Matt Kring, Dave Kring vice president, and Hannah Sanderson, CTE Consultant. 


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