Age is often just a number when you have the willpower and dedication to follow your passions. For Luke Franta, a 23-year-old technician from San Luis Obispo, California, that meant opening his own shop and becoming an ASE World Class Tech at a young age.
“It started off as a hobby, just something you do with friends on a Saturday, and it became something that was rewarding,” Franta recalls when talking about his early years working on cars. “The better we got, the more jobs we started doing for friends and family, and it kind of progressively got to the point it became a career.”
Franta got his start in the field like a lot of technicians, working at a Jiffy Lube. From there, he progressed to tires, brake and suspension work at a tire store, but he was always hungry to learn more.
He eventually moved to a shop across the street for an internship to progress his skills further. Today, he does contract work for the shop and is purchasing the business at the end of the year.
Lots and lots of books and YouTube videos also helped him prep for repairs and ASE tests.
“It’s such a hands-on industry that you have to have a ton of experience to learn,” Franta stresses. “There’s both sides to it; there’s the book side of it and the hands-on side.”
Today, Franta runs a sole-proprietor business, Franta’s Auto Care, where he takes contract work from area shops. He also runs Franta’s Automotive, where he sells cars. He got his business license about three years ago.
At Franta’s Auto Care, Franta provides services for anything he can get his hands on, noting that off-road trucks are a favorite.
What does it take to be a World Class ASE-certified tech?
+ Complete and earn 22 ASE certifications
“Really I will take on any job, and that’s part of the thing that I always try and do, because it keeps me learning and growing to get to the next step and kind of challenge myself,” he adds. “If I take on jobs that aren’t challenging, I kind of ask myself, ‘What’s wrong?’ because I feel like I always need to be taking the next step forward.”
“I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love to do it every day….You have your career side of it and your professional side of it. And then you also have the fun side of it, which I think is really important because you can still go out and have a lot of fun, but it applies to getting you forward in life.”
In his late teens, Franta started taking ASE tests.
“It took a lot of studying and watching videos. I was really trying to learn through every avenue possible,” Franta says. “I would read textbooks. When I was burned out, I would watch YouTube videos. And then when I was burned out on that, I’d go to specialty shops in the areas I was testing and go learn hands-on.”
It became a new challenge for Franta to constantly increase his knowledge. He notes that the most difficult test he took was the Advanced Engine Performance Specialist (L1) Test for the sheer amount of information needed just to pass the test.
So what would Franta tell young techs looking to follow a similar path?
“The best thing is just to have a clear goal in sight and to stick to it. You could have the best talent in the world, but if you don’t have a goal you will just wander. Just have a really good vision where you want to go and set up a plan to get there, and I think anyone can do it.”