Right from the start, John M. Giebe has had a knack for making the right choice. Faced with the option of two interviews upon his graduation from college more than 30 years ago, Giebe weighed the choice between going to the talk with IBM or the one he had scheduled with Moog, where his brother worked. He opted for Moog, and has since become an intricate part of the automotive industry.
Today, Giebe is possibly the most noted champion of training in the automotive industry and personally helped steer Moog into its extensive training program for service installers and countermen. More than 250,000 industry personnel are trained by Moog yearly, making Giebe’s impact on the training methods used by the industry indelible and irreplaceable.
“I’m most proud of our company’s ability to take itself and elevate it to a position in the aftermarket where it is the leader in training,” says Giebe, now Moog’s senior vice president of sales and a 1992 recipient of the Automotive Hall of Fame’s Distinguished Service Citation. Giebe joined Moog as a sales promotion manager after his graduation from St. Louis University and became its vice president of domestic sales in 1983. He says his emphasis on training was just a natural outgrowth of his sales responsibilities.
“As head of sales, I became responsible for training,” he says. “It only made sense that if we were able to train service installers and counterpeople, they would be able to sell more products and that means a healthier market for everyone.” In the 1970s, Giebe helped distinguish Moog as an aftermarket leader by offering one of the most extensive technical training programs in steering, suspension, driveline, temperature control diagnosis, service, and repair. He helped convince Moog to establish a technical training center in St. Louis, which was one of the first exclusive training facilities supporting the education and development of service professionals, countermen, and outside salesmen.
Despite his humility, however, it’s apparent that Giebe’s innovativeness was unique in the industry. For example, he insisted that the company “practice what we preach” and urged all of its sales force to be ASE-certified. Giebe says Moog “has a real affection for ASE and a real desire for excellence and commitment” to the industry. As a result of Moog’s move to have its sales people ASE-certified, other companies followed Moog’s example.
Typically, Giebe demurs on his role in the success of ASE, and instead talks about what ASE has done for the industry. ‘The uplift in the reputation caused by ASE-certification has been remarkable,” he says. “It’s now recognized by the car owner and shop owner as a symbol of quality service.” Giebe, who served as a two-term director of ASE and was the chair of its industry relations committee, helped the association in other ways. He was, says Ronald H. Weiner, president of ASE, “the driving force behind the NATEF (National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation, ASE’s education arm) ‘Career Tracks’ video, which holds the unique position of being the most successful career promotion video aimed at young adults that our industry has yet to produce.” Weiner credits Giebe with helping to “conceptualize, execute, promote and raise funds” for the Career Track project.
Giebe was instrumental in his role as chairman of the ASIA Board of Directors, leading the industry to victory over the then-proposed 10 year/10,000 mile warranty legislation. But he is best known for the training programs he has brought to the industry, and the ingenious ways he used to implement them. For example, when the demand for training became too great for the Moog Training Center to handle, Giebe helped develop a team of more than 30 technical vans that blanketed North America to bring training on-site to thousands of technicians.
In another example of his pioneer spirit, Giebe initiated a one-night, three-hour televised (via closed-circuit satellite) training program in which more than 10,000 technicians and warehouse distributors were educated. That achievement has not been duplicated in the industry.
Giebe, a tireless volunteer to several trade associations and civic and charitable endeavors, has used his considerable energy to bring several of those groups together to honor automotive technicians. Specifically, he helped unite ASIA, the Automotive Hall of Fame and ASE to create the World Class Technician Award, which is given to those who become certified in all16 ASE areas. To date, 50 have reached that milestone.
Those who do have their names inscribed in a book which is then presented to the Hall of Fame for display. Giebe says his most exciting memories in the industry come not from personal honors, but from opportunities he’s had to help others. “I’ve been blessed by the ability Moog has given me to serve in training,” he says, “and by the freedom the company has given me to pursue excellence in innovation. Also, Moog has been extremely generous in allowing me the time to volunteer with so many industry groups.”
Giebe says the industry still has the “need for training and the need to recruit bright young people.” With individuals such as Jack Giebe as an example, the aftermarket’s training efforts are certainly pointed in the right direction.