Dylan Vanderhoof, 20, of Corry, has recently been promoted to the position of city of Corry inspection mechanic.
What started as a summer participation in the Summer Jobs and More Program turned into a part-time position and career for the 2018 Corry Area High School graduate.
"I got in here just to make some money doing mechanics work when I was in the Summer JAM program and I ended up loving it," Vanderhoof said. "I liked the generalized work. It's a little bit of everything, not just brake jobs and suspension parts.
Vanderhoof's job offer was approved at a Sept. 21 Corry City Council meeting, with a starting wage of $14.02 per hour.
Vanderhoof's position brings the city garage back up to having two full-time mechanics for the first time since January 2018, when Nate Martin resigned, leaving the current city mechanic, Clayton Repasky, as its sole repairman.
His interest in fixing things started young, as he and his grandfather, Dean Vanderhoof, often tried to fix things that broke around their home when he was growing up.
"He was pretty much guessing as he went along," he said with a smile. "He had an understanding of stuff but we would end up way off track, and I wanted to learn how to do stuff the right way so it was a one-day project instead of a four-day project."
Those experiences led Vanderhoof to want to go through the auto program at CAHS. He started in small engine repair in ninth grade and entered into the auto program for his 10th-, 11th- and 12th-grade years.
He said he wanted to gain a general knowledge of how to fix things, but during high school he wasn't sure what he wanted to do as a career.
After graduating, Vanderhoof participated in the Summer JAM program in 2018. His high school experience in addition to those three months working at the city garage through the Summer JAM program led him to the University of Northwestern Ohio, where he earned a diploma in automotive technologies.
"I originally went for the my associates degree but I thought I was going to get hired here so I switched to just a regular diploma," he said.
Now that his part-time mechanic position has turned full time, Vanderhoof feels he is embarking on a career that he truly enjoys.
"I just like seeing the way stuff works to be honest, tearing it apart," he said. "I seem to be decent at it so I thought I would just run with it."
A perk of the job he enjoys is his large Snap-on power tool toolbox, which he's always wanted.
"I've always wanted my own toolbox," Vanderhoof said. "My grandpa always had his own and when I started working here I was amazed by all the tools Clayton had and wanted to get some of my own."
He went on to say the city did not provide his tools, he has bought his own to house in the toolbox.
City Manager Jason Biondi said he views Vanderhoof as a valued employee.
"He has worked with us as he’s gone through college and has been a valued member of the team up to this point," Biondi said during the Sept. 21 Corry City Council meeting, when Vanderhoof's job offer was unanimously approved.
Corry Public Works Department Lead Operator Mark Leofsky reflected that sentiment.
"I think it's pretty remarkable when you get a kid from the Summer JAM program and you hire him to a part-time role — and ultimately a full-time role— it's an accomplishment in itself," Leofsky said. "It says a lot of him and the city about dedication on both sides."
Leofsky compared Vanderhoof to Repasky, who has shown dedication and true enjoyment of his work.
"He's one of those, like Clayton," Leofsky said. "He really likes what he does, he wants to be here, is eager to learn and that makes a great employee."