Kia Master Technicians Vie for Skill National Cup Title


Top Technicians to Represent U.S. at Kia Skill World Cup Competition

  • The biennial Kia Skill Cup competition promotes high-quality service and outstanding customer satisfaction practices

  • Competition encourages technicians to maintain advanced diagnostic skills
  • IRVINE, Calif., May 31, 2012 – Kia University, the training arm of Kia Motors America (KMA), hosted the biennial Kia Skill National Cup competition at the company’s headquarters in Irvine, Calif., to determine the top master-level technicians from each of the company’s four regions (eastern, southern, central and western). The winning technicians on the national level will represent their respective dealerships and the U.S. at the Kia Skill World Cup, June 11-15 at the Chonan Technical Service Training Center in Seoul, South Korea. Kia’s Skill Cup competitions encourage technicians to hone their technical skills to keep pace with the company’s engineering advancements while promoting customer-care excellence and professional conduct.


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    “High-quality customer service begins with highly trained, professional technicians committed to diagnosing the root cause of any issues and making the necessary repairs on the first visit,” said John Crowe, vice president, service and aftersale operations, KMA. “Skill Cup competitors represent the best Kia technicians from across the country and around the globe, and they set the standard by which all Kia technicians are measured.”

    To qualify for the competition, technicians are given a 50-question online test, which requires comprehensive knowledge of Kia’s powertrain designs, electrical systems and onboard vehicle management software. Only the top four test-takers in each of the four regions are selected to participate in the National Skill Cup challenge, a hands-on contest, in which technicians are judged on their ability to accurately execute Kia’s five-step diagnostic process and successfully repair vehicles within specified time limits. While focusing on several diagnostic areas, participants most notably demonstrated their troubleshooting skills with Kia’s latest drivetrain technologies, including that of the popular Optima Hybrid. In addition, finalists were judged on customer service criteria such as professionalism, safety and clean-up.

    Of the 16 national finalists, only four will travel to Korea to compete for the honor of Kia’s top technician in the Kia Skill World Cup. They are Jason Powell, Fox Kia; Michael Schwartz, Kia of Lynchburg; Ken Winders, Gene Messer Kia; and Christopher Cooley, Salazar Kia. See below for the full results of the 2012 Kia Skill National Cup.

    Central Region

    • 1st Jason Powell, Fox Kia, Grand Rapids, Mich.
    • 2nd Max Umbs, Dick Brantmeier Kia, Sheboygan, Wis.
    • 3rd Tim Clark, Jeff Belzer’s Kia, Lakeville, Minn.
    • 4th William Barcklay, Montrose Kia, Sheffield, Ohio

    Eastern Region

    • 1st Michael Schwartz, Kia of Lynchburg, Lynchburg, Va.
    • 2nd Robert Worman Jr., Lehighton Kia, Lehighton, Pa.
    • 3rd Blair Vile, Steven Kia, Harrisonburg, Va.
    • 4th Thomas Cinque, Auto World Kia, East Meadow, N.Y.

    Southern Region

    • 1st Ken Winders, Gene Messer Kia, Lubbock, Texas
    • 2nd Eddie Miller, Grindstaff Kia of Johnson City, Johnson City, Tenn.
    • 3rd Dean Dewitt, Bob Dance Kia, Merritt Island, Fla.
    • 4th Tommy Latulipe, Rusty Wallace Kia of Knoxville, Knoxville, Tenn.

    Western Region

    • 1st Christopher Cooley, Salazar Kia, Avondale, Ariz.
    • 2nd James Baker, Christopher Kia, Salt Lake, Salt Lake City
    • 3rd Thomas Cruz, The Kia Depot, Santa Ana, Calif.
    • 4th Robert Laursen, Larry H. Miller Kia Lakewood, Lakewood, Colo.

    Kia’s Unprecedented Growth
    Kia Motors is one of the world’s fastest moving global automotive brands; from 2009-2011 Kia launched more new vehicles in the U.S. than any other automaker, and under the guidance of chief design officer Peter Schreyer earned a reputation as an industry leader in automotive styling. Kia Motors America’s full line of fuel-efficient and fun-to-drive cars and CUVs has earned critical acclaim and dramatically increased consumer awareness, perception and consideration for the brand. In 2011, KMA recorded its 17th consecutive year of market share growth, thanks in part to the largest increase of any major brand in perceived quality1 and the industry’s highest brand loyalty ranking2. Kia’s U.S.-based manufacturing facility in West Point, Georgia KMMG is responsible for the creation of more than 10,000 plant and supplier jobs and builds two of the company’s best-selling vehicles in the U.S. the Sorento CUV and Optima midsize sedan*. Kia’s value and technology-laden lineup also includes the Sportage compact CUV, Soul urban passenger vehicle, Optima Hybrid, Forte compact sedan, Forte 5-door compact hatchback, Forte Koup two-door coupe, Rio and Rio 5-door sub-compacts and Sedona minivan.

    About Kia Motors America
    Kia Motors America is the marketing and distribution arm of Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, South Korea. KMA offers a complete line of vehicles through more than 755 dealers throughout the United States and serves as the “Official Automotive Partner” of the NBA and LPGA. In 2011, KMA recorded its best-ever annual sales total and became one of the fastest growing car companies in the U.S. Kia is poised to continue its momentum and will continue to build the brand through design innovation, quality, value, advanced safety features and new technologies.

    Information about Kia Motors America and its full vehicle line-up is available at its website For media information, including photography, visit

    * The Sorento and Optima GDI (EX Trims and certain LX Trims only) and GDI Turbo are built in the United States from U.S. and globally sourced parts.
    1 Source: Automotive Lease Guide Spring 2011 Perceived Quality Study.
    2 Source: Experian Automotive Q2 2011 market analysis.

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