When you have your Subaru serviced at a Subaru retailer, the advantage is that the technicians are not just trained in basic automotive technology; Subaru technicians are factory trained on the things that make Subaru vehicles stand out from the competition.

The Boxer four-cylinder engine, legendary Subaru all-wheel drive and EyeSight® Driver Assist Technology1  are unique, featuring engineering and technology that other vehicles don’t provide. These features make your Subaru retailer your best bet for service. The goal is to maintain and repair your Subaru right the first time, on time, and at a reasonable cost.

Fourteen men are standing in a group in a spacious area at Subaru headquarters in Camden, New Jersey, for the Subaru American National Technician Competition. They are wearing nametags on their shirts and automotive technician clothing for the competition.
Zone Champions gathered at Subaru of America, Inc. headquarters in Camden, New Jersey, for the 2023 Subaru American National Technician Competition.

A Competition for the Best of the Best   

The Subaru American National Technician Competition is a way for Subaru technicians to showcase their knowledge. Every two years, technicians from across the country compete, demonstrating their troubleshooting abilities, product knowledge, technical expertise and hands-on skills.    

“The competition is geared towards our higher-level technicians,” says Mark Jurkovski, Subaru of America Technical Training Development Manager. “We try to encourage Master and Senior Master Service Technicians to pursue it.”  

“If they meet basic qualifications, they can take a preliminary test,” Jurkovski says. The results are combined with a Fixed Right First Time (FRFT) score, which ranks technicians on their abilities to repair a Subaru vehicle once without customers having to return to the retailer, along with Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) technician scoring and other objective metrics. Top technicians are then selected by Subaru Zone Directors. 

Ready, Set, Go   

In October 2023, the selected technicians met at Subaru of America Headquarters in Camden, New Jersey, and were presented with challenges in three vehicle skill groups, each lasting about one hour, and were scored for accuracy, speed, and service quality.    

Jurkovski says that the competition includes a written test on technical knowledge and hands-on challenges in the areas of precision measurement, engine performance/drivability, and body electrical.    

“They have a car with three compounding problems,” he says. First, the engine won’t turn over at all. “Once they get it to crank, then the car won’t start. Once they get it started, they’re presented with a running issue. So, it’s a series of issues that they’ve got to work through.”    

Separately, the test car is presented with electrical issues that the technicians sort out during the competition.    

The competitors all have the same tools and the same access to information to diagnose issues. “Whoever finishes soonest gets points,” says Jurkovski. “But they’re also heavily, heavily scored on the method that they choose [to diagnose the issue] and the accuracy of the repair. It’s all set up to reflect what they face in the real world.”  

And the Winner Is   

At the close of the competition, James Pedicone, a Senior Master Service Technician at Chilson Subaru in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, claimed victory.    

Pedicone has been a technician for over 20 years, working on cars in high school and pursuing technical training in the United States Army as an M1 Abrams tank mechanic. Pedicone earned an associate degree in automotive technology after he completed his service and last year received a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Wisconsin–Stout.

“When I was younger, I used to read Choose Your Adventure books,” says Pedicone. “I’d go back and read all of the possible adventures.” He feels like that’s almost a road map for his career, trying multiple different things and getting the most out of his experiences, both in school and in the military.   

He’s been with Chilson Subaru for nine years and credits the Chilson family, who he says played a huge role in his development as a technician. “They’ve given us guidelines to do what needs to be done and get the job done right,” he says. “I wouldn’t be the tech that I am without the environment they created.”   

As the Zone Champion for the Minneapolis zone and the first-place winner in the national competition, Pedicone received a cash prize of $1,500 as well as an all-expenses-paid trip to Tokyo, Japan, to compete this year in the Subaru World Technical Competition representing the United States.    

“A special congratulations to our winner, James Pedicone, who proved to be a winner among winners,” says Jeff Walters, President and COO, Subaru of America, Inc. “We look forward to seeing what he accomplishes on a world level at the Subaru International Technician Competition.”   

Pedicone spent a year of his military service in Korea but notes that it was all about work, and he didn’t get to experience the culture as much as he’d have liked. The trip to Japan is going to allow him some time to absorb Asian culture. “I’ve been using a language learning app, and I’ve got a streak going for the last 90 days,” he says. Asked what he’s most excited about: “The food,” he says. “You don’t get great sushi in the Midwest.”    

Pedicone says that his education, time as a tank mechanic, and nearly a decade with Chilson Subaru “put me on a different learning curve,” he says. “I have to give a big nod to the Chilson family for the tools they’ve provided.” 

1 EyeSight is a driver-assist system that may not operate optimally under all driving conditions. The driver is always responsible for safe and attentive driving. System effectiveness depends on many factors, such as vehicle maintenance, weather, and road conditions. See Owner’s Manual for complete details on system operation and limitations.