David Easterbrook was walking the halls of Troy High School when he saw the sign for the school’s auto lab. He had just finished giving a speech on behalf of Ashley’s Dream, the foundation he started to combat the threat of drunk driving. It’s a subject he knows all too well; his own daughter, Ashely, was killed by a drunk driver nearly 20 years ago.
Seeing the sign for the auto lab, Easterbrook decided to pop his head in the room. Cars are also something that he knows well, having founded the automotive company AME Vertical in 2001.
Easterbrook says he saw an auto lab that could use an upgrade. So he put the wheels in motion to do just that. Drawing on his own company and its clients, as well as his foundation, Easterbrook successfully raised $200,000 to improve the Troy High School auto lab, an accomplishment that was celebrated earlier this week.
“My daughter would always say, how can we make life better for people,” says Easterbrook. “I think this does that.”
The money raised was used to gut the old auto lab and parts room. The old carpet is gone, and the floors were ground down and polished. Walls were painted. New parts shelving and racking were installed. And new computer stations and desks were delivered for the students.
With his experience in the auto industry, Easterbrook says there’s a real need for automotive and mechanical education. Gone are the days of mechanics only knowing how to do oil changes and tire rotations. Today’s high-tech automobiles require more education and technological know-how.
There is a dearth in the workforce, he says. It’s a good living, and an industry that could use the investment in young talent.
“The mechanics today are working on computers as much as they are cars. This is high-tech stuff and these are smart kids,” says Easterbrook. “We need to encourage people to go into these fields.”