Alumnus Spotlight: Tom Wood

Tom Wood

2015 graduate owns and manages automotive service business

Tom Wood, 28, graduated from Dakota County Technical College in 2015 with an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Automotive Technician. Along with developing his technical skills while in the program, Tom focused on gaining the entrepreneurial know-how he would need run his own shop. Today, he owns and operates Autofix & Performance, a vehicle maintenance and repair business in Eagan, Minnesota.

On top of his A.A.S. degree, Tom obtained professional certification through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Founded in 1972, ASE is an independent, nonprofit organization that improves the quality of vehicle repair and service by testing and certifying automotive professionals.

Originally from Eagan, Tom graduated from Eastview High School in 2011. In his free time, he enjoys snowmobiling, dirt bikes, wrenching and working on classic cars. Wrenching is a very popular vehicle repair and maintenance hobby.

Jeff Copeland is an instructor in the Automotive Technician program. Jeff remembers Tom as an exceptional student.

“Tom was the kind of student who asked lots of questions because he had a curiosity for all things automotive,” Jeff said. “He would challenge me by asking the questions most students did not bother thinking about, and it was fun to have someone want to learn so much.”

One word that best describes your experience at DCTC:


Autofix & Performance gallery

Tom Wood Q & A

How did your education at DCTC prepare you for your career?

DCTC prepared me for the automotive industry by giving me the fundamentals for fixing cars. I learned a lot about interpersonal communications. The Automotive Technician program also helped me learn how to better communicate with management and my clients.

What do you see as the most promising advances in the automotive industry?

Electric cars. Diagnosing. Electrical issues.

What are the most rewarding aspects of owning your own business?

Figuring out how to help a customer or fix a certain vehicle when another shop could not help them.

Three words that describe you as a professional automotive technician:

What advice would you give students considering automotive technology as their career path?

Don’t worry about having the nicest toolbox and the nicest tools. Only buy what you need. Do not let other people tell you to do oil changes your whole career. Take on the bigger jobs and further your expertise.

What advice would you give aspiring small business owners?

Find someone that has a business like what you want and have them as a mentor. Take every piece of advice they are willing to give you and do not be afraid to ask questions.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

Having more locations.

What person(s) has influenced you the most in life?

My parents.

Heath Baumgard: DCTC staff perspective…

I met Tom through a mutual friend, and after we got to talking he shared what he did for a living, and that he was a graduate of DCTC. Not only was it was amazing to find out that he graduated from the college I am currently working for, but Tom also shared with me that he now owns his own auto shop business in Eagan!

When we needed new brakes for one of our vehicles, we thought of Tom right away. He provided quality work, a quick turnaround, and great customer service. DCTC is proud to have outstanding alumni like Tom, who is running his locally-owned business with great success.

Heath Baumgard
Director of Recruitment and Admissions
Dakota County Technical College

More about the Automotive Technician program…

Danielle Tinney

As skilled professionals, automotive technicians accurately diagnose mechanical problems related to engine, transmission, fuel injection, suspension and electrical systems. Students learn to maintain and repair engine, chassis, drive train, front-wheel drive, fuel injection, and electrical and emission systems. Instruction involves classroom theory, demonstrations, computer applications and hands-on car repair.

The Vehicle Maintenance program is designed to introduce students to the automotive industry and provide opportunities to obtain the entry-level fundamental knowledge, skills, training and credentials needed for employment and advancement in transportation career pathways.

The curriculum follows the standards defined by the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Education Foundation, which ensures all training meets the highest standards. Students who graduate from this program will be able to work for independent repair facilities and dealerships in maintenance and light repair.


The Automotive Technician program is accredited by the ASE Education Foundation.

Program awards and outcomes


Automotive Service Technicians & Mechanics

Diagnose problems and repair cars and light trucks.



Median: $21.18/hour
High: $24.49/hour

Seven-county Twin Cities metro

Median: $22.46/hour
High: $28.50/hour


In Minnesota, there are 11,830 workers employed in this large career, which is currently in very high demand. There will be a need for about 14,318 new Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics to meet market demand between 2018–2028. This includes the demand due to replacement (workers leaving the occupation or retiring) as well as growth.

Minnesota State CAREERwise Education

Tom Wood 12 Answers

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: Snowmobiling, stand-up jet skis and dirt bikes
  2. Place you would most like to visit: Grand Canyon
  3. The most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Start my own business
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Buy a bowling alley 2) Buy a river boat 3) Finish my Camaro
  5. Favorite TV show you’re watching now: Street Outlaws
  6. Best movie you’ve seen lately: Ford v Ferrari
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Starting my own family
  8. Your national bird if you were your own country: Peacock
  9. Dream occupation: Already got it!
  10. Person you would most like to meet: My grandfather who was a jet engine mechanic in the Navy.
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Master TIG welding aluminum
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: 1) Taxes 2) Oil industry
Learn more about the Automotive Technician program at DCTC by contacting:

Jeffrey Copeland
Automotive Technology Faculty

Scott Anderson
Automotive Technician Faculty

Matt Boudinot
Automotive Technician Faculty

Christ Siebenaler
AUTM Faculty