Ron Shoemaker has long been drawn to the model of an hourglass: the grains of sand passing to the glass bottom symbolic of life’s opportunities. The image was so meaningful, he named his company the Hourglass Management Corporation, which includes remarketing services Flexco Fleet Services.
When co-founding the firm’s philanthropic arm, Ron and his son Chad Shoemaker (CEO of Hourglass Management) found the image of opportunity and breaking the cycle of poverty even more relevant.
Guided by “the belief that together we can create hope and opportunity,” the Hourglass Foundation provides educational scholarships for first-generation and underserved students in the areas of auto tech, automotive engineering tech and skilled trade programs, such as HVAC, electrical, plumbing and construction.
The high-paying, technology-focused trade careers are especially attractive for young people who cannot attend or do not want a four-year college experience.
800,000 Technician Shortage by 2026
The philanthropy’s efforts, however, will also benefit the automotive and fleet industries, which will experience a shortage of 800,000 skilled technicians by 2026, according to TechForce, a nonprofit promoting the technician workforce.
“The tech shortage will impact more than just the mechanic or repair shops,” points out Janet Smail, the Hourglass Foundation executive director. Shops will need to compete for a smaller pool of trained technicians, boosting pay levels and, ultimately, costs to the consumer.
Honoring Dick Malcom
The first foundation award in 2019 —the Dick Malcom Humanitarian Scholarship —honored the late Dick Malcom, a 30-plus-year fleet veteran, fleet director for State Farm Insurance and 2013 Automotive Fleet Professional Fleet Manager of the Year. The memorial award is given to a student at Malcom’s alma mater, El Paso-Gridley High School, in El Paso, Illinois, who mirrors Dick's humanitarian spirit.
Since then, the foundation has awarded $60,000 in scholarships and is now working with 14 community colleges and trade schools across the country.
In addition to awards provided through participating schools, students can apply directly to the foundation for the “More than One Path” scholarship or a $2,000 tool scholarship, matched by Snap-On Tools.
The foundation’s newest direct scholarships — “Women in Auto Tech” and “Women Rock Trades” — is part of the foundation’s desire “to not leave anyone behind,” said Smail, who noted women represent just 3% of the auto tech workforce.
To apply, students must have a 2.5 GPA or equivalent GED and submit two letters of recommendation, a description of volunteer/extracurricular activities and an essay outlining their goals and reasons for pursuing an auto tech career. Awards are announced in April and May.
The scholarship program is funded through individual donations, corporate sponsorships and vehicle donations, the latter’s remarketed profit directed to the foundation.
“This year’s goal is to raise $35,000 for scholarships; whether small or large, all donations matter,” said Smail.
Current corporate sponsors include ServNet, Geotab, recruiting firm TPC/MGT, American’s Auto Auction/XLerate, and installation company DRIG.
The Automotive Fleet and Leasing Association is another foundation supporter, naming it the association's Charity of the Year in 2021.
In addition to Ron and Chad Shoemaker, foundation board members include Sherry Calkins, vice president, Connected Car and Platform Solutions, Geotab and Jeff Hill, CAFM, manager, construction equipment and fleet services operations for contruction firm Black & Veatch.
More Services Planned
The foundation is about to launch a new tool, the Tech Connection, an online portal connecting graduating tech students potential employers.
Among its other goals, the group hopes to create workplace “shadow” opportunities for students in middle and high school students.
Scholarship Recipients Convey Their Thanks
Below are a few of Hourglass Foundation scholarship recipients who expressed their gratitude, illustrating difference the support has made in their lives:
Ryan - Arapahoe Community College
"I wanted to personally reach out and thank you for your generous donation to my education. It has been an honor and a privilege to have been considered and I am excited about my future in the automotive field. Attending college for a formal education has given me a sense of pride and fulfillment that fills me daily with the drive and desire to become a better version of myself. I am filled with a hope that I may one day be in a position to help someone as you have helped me. I will be forever grateful for the contribution of the More Than One Path and will continue to strive for excellence in all that I do. Thank you again for your invaluable assistance."
Ian, Columbus State Community College
“By receiving this scholarship, I will have much less stress and worry about how I am going to pay for everything. I really am trying hard to balance everything – like my own car repairs, car insurance, school expenses, etc. My parents help as much as they can but most of their extra income goes toward helping pay for my medical expenses and also my brother’s who was just diagnosed in January with severe heart and kidney issues. Thank you for your support."
Jaime – More Than One Path Scholarship winner
“This scholarship has allowed me to focus on my education and my daughter. It gave me the ability to work a few less hours per week and the opportunity to study a few more hours per week. I was also able to put my daughter in a preschool program in the mornings while I get work done. It is people and foundations like you that give people like me a real shot at an incredible future."
Oscar, More Than One Path Scholarship Recipient, Newgate School
"I would like to thank you all for this opportunity! For giving me this chance. I really appreciate this support! Please know I’m going to invest that money on some good herramientas (Tools) for sure! Doing this and learning new things with cars is my passion. I see that if you put in the work, it will pay off at the end! So don’t give up and always work really hard for your goals! Hard work will bring you a lot of good opportunities in life. Be humble."