October 2010 - Ricky Lapan
Toyota-trained Master Technician
Toyota-trained Master Technician
Where do you go when you need your Toyota vehicle worked on? Do you go to a local service shop, also known as a "Mom and Pop" service station? Or maybe your service station of choice is an independent service shop such as a Mineke or a Jiffy Lube? Handy Toyota understands a portion of greater Burlington and Franklin Vermont residents do just this, and we also realize why.
In some cases, they might have lower prices on their specials or more specials in general from which to choose, or perhaps you feel that supporting a smaller business is the socially responsible choice. We don't fault you and that is not our point at all; the point is: why are they able to offer so many different specials versus Handy Toyota's monthly change? Why does the "Mom and Pop" shop seemingly always have an open bay, and thus can sneak you in for a quick oil change almost on command?
The answer is simple: those service stations do not have Toyota University trained and certified Technicians, and since this is the case they are not versed in your Toyota vehicle.
I recently had the chance to meet one such person-trained in the arts Toyota has deemed correct for each of its particular models-and in fact I met him for the first time while he was studying. The first words I had ever heard uttered from the elusive Ricky Lapan were "I have to take this exam and get a good score, or I'll not longer be certified." This should tell you something big, since Ricky Lapan has worked as a Master Technician at Handy Toyota since 1990. His initial statement perfectly exemplifies the qualities that make up the core of his profession.
Born in Burlington, Vermont, Ricky has lived as a lifelong member of the Green Mountain State for a full 41 years. Since day one Ricky has had a knack for all things mechanical, cars in specific. "I don't really have a great deal of hobbies," Lapan tells me during the interview. "I do a little camping, a little hunting, and I play sports like softball and whatnot from time to time, but I really just like working on cars. And I mean as a hobby. And to get paid for something I enjoy? Well that's what everyone's dream job is, right?" he laughs.
One car Ricky hasn't had the luxury of working on is his dream car. I ask him about this dream vehicle, assuming there were no limits and he could simply HAVE whatever he wished, and he balls up his fist and places it on his chin with his head down. Where most interviewees would just spout out the latest Toyota vehicle, a Ferrari, or something generic for the posed question, Ricky's actions tell me he's rifling through the interior and exterior elements as he tries to decide which car he'd like to tinker on the most. "I guess" he begins, seemingly hesitant to commit to the elusive car of one's imagination, "I guess? a 1967 Plymouth Barracuda" he finally says with authority, as if the pondering didn't just take place.
To switch up the style a bit I ask Ricky which current or past Toyota vehicle best personifies him. Without the previous thought, as if he'd known I would ask (which he possibly might have of course), he says "definitely the Supra, like a mid-1990s Supra. You ever been in one of those?" he says to me, flipping the interviewer/interviewee methodology on its ear. When I respond that I haven't he tells me all about it: how fast they were, how much fun and sharp the vehicle was, and most of all-as is conventional wisdom on the topic-how crazy Toyota Motors is to have a) taken it away and b) for not bringing it back.
Although Mr. Lapan does not divulge much interests outside of his mechanical hobbies, he is quick to point out he is happily married since 1989. He continues by reassuring both me and the readers that he has three loves: his wife, Toyota vehicles, and working on Toyota cars! Well said, Ricky, well said.