Gabe Mallory loves taking things apart. He is also very good at putting them back together.
“It’s almost like a puzzle. And seeing the new parts on there, that’s what I love about my job as a mechanic,” said the 25-year-old truck and coach mechanic at Musket Transport’s workshop in Mississauga, Ont.
Mallory’s day begins at 7 a.m. and may start outside the shop, having to boost a truck with dead batteries. Or, he could be spending an entire day on one vehicle, fixing the clutch. “It is all over the place, never one or the same thing,” he said.
It can also be busy on days where four or five trucks roll in for their quarterly inspections.
“Drivers come up for little things – they need a light replaced, or their brakes checked – all that takes little chunks of time from your day,” Mallory said.
He works Saturdays because that’s the day when drivers return from trips and minor things need fixing. He usually gets the Thursday off, so he works five days a week.
Mallory has been in the trade for about five years. He studied at White Oaks Secondary School in Oakville, where he was enrolled in the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP). The program helps students learn a trade and become a registered apprentice, while still in high school. He completed the program and received his Level 1 automotive certification. It’s “a good head-start to the automotive trade,” he said.
He then went to Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ont. “I switched over to trucks because my dad Rodney is the foreman here at Musket’s shop,” Mallory said.
In college it was two months of theory and then work for eight months. He said that you must wait almost a year for your next course. There are three levels and Mallory completed his apprenticeship through Musket.
He likes working on bigger machines and says his on-the-job training has helped him grow at work.
“We do pretty much everything here, from alignments to engine repairs, injectors, heads, transmission or clutch work, diagnostics and electrical,” Mallory said. And yes, lots of tires and brakes.
Why is he enthusiastic about his work? “First, I’m making money,” he said with a smile. “Secondly, I enjoy the good atmosphere in the shop. I enjoy being around the guys and working on the trucks. It’s fun for me.”
Mallory has also done a couple of training videos for his company. One was on alignments and the second on inspections. “The inspection video was made to inform drivers on what to look for and educate them. If something is obvious or not right, take a look at it,” he said.
Mallory said he has mentored quite a few mechanics who have come through the shop. “A lot of guys don’t like it,” he said of the job. “They think it’s too dirty for them or too heavy for them. I don’t find it dirty.”
He said the cold does take a toll on you sometimes. “I don’t think of it that I have to get underneath the truck, it’s normal to me. I’ve gotta make sure this truck is good to go.”
“Don’t rush. Follow every safety protocol because it can get very heavy.”
Gabe Mallory, mechanic
Common sense is important if you want to be a good mechanic, he said. Simple things like knowing your leverage also helps. For those planning to get into the trade or those who have recently joined, Mallory advises them to take their time. “Don’t rush,” he said. “Follow every safety protocol because it can get very heavy. Make sure the truck is lifted properly. Learn the stuff. You can take something apart, but you may not know how it works. You want to take the time to know what’s going on when you take it apart.”
Mallory says there are lots of things to learn about trucks. There’s always room to grow in the industry. “You never will know everything. There’s so many things, so many trucks, so many different engines,” he said. In the future, Mallory is keen on expanding his knowledge about electric trucks. “I want to take more time to learn, because everything is going electric.”