Thomas Kia of Highland employee spotlight: Genesis Fuentes and Steven McNamara

Thomas Kia of Highland employee spotlight: Genesis Fuentes and Steven McNamara

Thomas Kia of Highland is full of exemplary employees, but when young team members work to exceed expectations, some extra credit is due. 

Service Technicians Genesis Fuentes and Steven McNamara both began their careers in high school. They have since made lasting impressions with coworkers and managers in the automotive industry, especially at Thomas Kia.

McNamara began his career by taking auto shop classes in high school. He had always been interested in building things and quickly found a passion for working in the automotive industry. McNamara started work as a porter, but his experience in the auto shop at school allowed him to quickly rise through the ranks. He currently works as a class C technician.

“Steve started off as a porter in the back. When he had the opportunity to show his ability, he took initiative and started to change oil for me. After changing oil, he started taking some online classes to advance to be a C tech. At the C tech level, he does oil changes, tire rotation, brakes and suspension. He's a great guy,” Service Manager Neddie Burks said. 

Fuentes is also a class C technician. Although she has only been working at Thomas Kia for a few weeks, the team and management staff have plenty to say about her work ethic and positive attitude in the shop. 

“She's a young lady, but she can hang with the boys. She has that ability to just do whatever it takes and she is a team player and helps out wherever she can,” Burks said. 

Fuentes found her love for the industry through her father, who was a diesel technician for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) in Chicago. She took auto shop classes in high school and then went to trade school at the Universal Technical Institute. Fuentes has worked in the industry for seven years in total, with experience at Hyundai and Kia dealerships. 

While the two are well-versed in automotive repairs, no amount of experience can prevent unexpected difficulties. Despite the sometimes frustrating work, McNamara and Fuentes always find a way to push through and work toward a solution. For them, and many other team members, this often means taking a step back and refocusing before jumping back into the project.

“I'll definitely take a seat, relax for a second and calm down. Some things are very stressful, but I've always got music playing and stuff that helps me go through the day and focus on what I'm doing,” McNamara said.

Both McNamara and Fuentes have shown impressive initiative in the shop, but the two are just a small portion of the highly-skilled team behind the service department.

“All of my guys do very well at taking care of customers. We have a good family atmosphere, and our customers come first here,” Burks said.

Customer service may come first, but the team at Thomas Kia actively works to ensure every employee feels supported and encouraged to succeed. This type of atmosphere allows employees to make bonds that extend outside of scheduled work hours.

“We have fun. They do a lot of things after work together and like being around each other during work. It's just a good place to work. We’re like a family,” General Manager Tom Seely said.

The support from coworkers behind the scenes is reflected in the treatment of customers looking for any type of service, no matter the issue. Whether it’s a routine oil change or a complete rebuild, the team at Thomas Kia has it covered.

“We’re glad to serve everyone that comes in. We always look forward to new interactions with customers, and we always do the best that we can to help,” McNamara said.

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