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Rocklin man part of world champion Mercedes-Benz technician team

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Ralph Johonnot, with Mercedes-Benz of Rocklin, and Scott Baylis, with Mercedes-Benz of Sacramento, were on the seven-member American team that Daimler AG crowned champions Nov. 21 in Stuttgart, Germany, at the 2012 Mercedes-Benz Global TechMasters International competition.

This U.S. team included two technicians from the Sacramento-based Von Housen Automotive Group of Mercedes-Benz dealerships.

The Mercedes-Benz Global TechMasters are an international motivation and qualification program for Mercedes-Benz service employees with the organization of national competitions in more than 25 countries. Category-specific, alternating every year between passenger cars and trucks, up to 16 countries can take part in the finals of the Global TechMasters in Stuttgart. The participants are determined in national prequalifying rounds. This year, the finalists hailed from Belgium, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Canada, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland, Spain, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and the USA.

The competition includes four test stations for each team. Every team comprises six participants, including the team coach. Based on the career fields defined by the company in the Service and Parts Unit, theoretical and practical tests as well as a skills circle and a non-technical team test were performed. In addition to theoretical know-how, the jury also tested the practical skills of each participant with regard to the respective job profile, e.g. service adviser or diagnostic technician, and assessed the direct communication with the customer. As part of a skills circle, the basic knowledge of the respective job profiles was challenged. Not only the individual participants were tested, however, as the competition also included the interaction within the teams.

The entire process from the service reception of a customer vehicle and the customer interview, the pre-diagnosis and repair to the handover of the vehicle to the customer was tested. General questions about tools, products and processes in the service and parts business as well as about the culture and country-specific contact behavior of a service adviser rounded out the test.

Von Housen officials said this year marked the first time in the history of the international competition that one auto group had two technicians make the U.S. team.

"The entire Von Housen Automotive Group is proud of the accomplishment of two of our finest technicians,” said George Grinzewitsch Jr., who heads the auto group. “To have competed against thousands of technicians worldwide ... is a testament to our commitment to service (on) one of the finest luxury automobiles in the world."

Just getting on the U.S. team was a prolonged process against top-flight Mercedes-Benz technicians. Johonnot and Baylis qualified for the U.S. team in June following a nationwide competition that included more than 2,000 technicians. That competition was sponsored by Mercedes-Benz USA to identify the top performers at dealerships nationwide.

Johonnot and Baylis competed with the U.S. team in Germany and went up against teams of Mercedes technicians from 15 other nations.

In addition to sharing team honors, Johonnot won the Bronze medal in the "World's Best Maintenance Technician" category.

In the team competition, the U.S. techs beat out silver medalist and host Germany. The team from Japan took the bronze.

Von Housen Automotive Group also includes Mercedes-Benz of El Dorado Hills, Smart Center of Sacramento and Sprinter of Rocklin.