Loud and Clear

Deafness didn't stop Daniel Lethcoe from thriving at Johnson City Toyota

December 20, 2016
Feel the Love -- Scott Ferrell (black shirt) and Bob Berry (plaid) couldn't be happier to have Daniel Lethcoe (front) on board at Johnson City Toyota. They see big things in his future. 
What’s the story here?
 
Daniel Lethcoe is a certified line technician at Johnson City Toyota in Tennessee. He has his sights set on becoming a master technician.
 
He is good at his job. He’s ambitious. And his colleagues love working with him. Every dealership has people like that, who can thrive in a fast-paced environment, raise their game when needed and aim for bigger things.
 
Oh, so Daniel Lethcoe is deaf. Has been from birth. Does that change the story? Does that make him special?
 
Well, maybe in one sense. But the story isn’t that he can’t hear. It’s that it doesn’t matter that he can’t hear.
 
Master Journey
 
Lethcoe has been at Johnson City Toyota since 2011. In those five years, his technical knowledge and ability have skyrocketed. He started changing tires and doing oil changes. Now he’s the go-to guy on accessories, suspension kits and alignments.
 
This year, Daniel was nominated for the Cincinnati Region’s 10-month group technical training program. He completed the course in October. The region hired two sign language interpreters for each class – at no expense to Daniel or Johnson City Toyota. From there, it was smooth sailing.
 
“The instructors have just bragged on him about how attentive and intense he is about learning,” says Service Manager Bob Berry, who isn’t shy about heaping praise on the tech.
 
Lethcoe found more than technical expertise during training. He found a career path.
 
“The more I learn about what I do, the more interested I become,” Lethcoe says. “Before the training, my knowledge might not have been as in-depth, so this makes me motivated to learn more. I didn’t really know exactly what I wanted. But as I moved on, I decided I wanted to be a master technician.”
 
And his bosses see that path, too.
 
“Next year is advanced group training,” Berry says. “Once he gets his training done we want him to get on the path to master technician and eventually become a master diagnostic technician.”
 
Slight Adjustment
 
When Lethcoe came aboard, it took a little getting used to for everyone. His coworkers would sometimes forget that he couldn’t hear them, and he was unable to listen for sound cues that could help guide his work.
 
But because of his strong work ethic, he has done nothing but impress his bosses.
 
“Daniel refuses to fall into the same pitfalls so many technicians do,” says Scott Ferrell, the dealership’s service and parts director. “He doesn’t believe things are beneath him. He embraces whatever we give him today.”
 
Ferrell saw it back in 2009, when he worked at another dealership. Lethcoe came in looking for a job. Unfortunately, there was nothing open at the time.
 
“Daniel impressed me because he was very determined to become a technician. He was not going to be denied,” Ferrell says. “That always stuck with me. I knew that, given an opportunity, he would go far. And when I came to Johnson City Toyota, he was already here. I get immense satisfaction seeing how far he’s come, and it confirms what I knew about him seven years ago. Daniel was not going to be told ‘no.’”
Sign of the Times – Daniel Lethcoe has helped Jason Shell (left) also hearing impaired, adjust to life at Johnson City Toyota. 

 
Just Part of the Crew
 
Ferrell and Lethcoe have become close over the years, which has Ferrell thinking about learning a new skill.
 
“I want to learn sign language,” he says.
 
“He’s too lazy to do that,” Lethcoe shoots back. 
 
“You watch,” Ferrell says. “I’m going to learn sign language and I’m going to show you.”
Just your basic banter between coworkers. Nothing special here.
 
Actually, there is something special: A technician who has found his calling, and is well on his way to mastering his craft. Yep, Daniel Lethcoe is a role model to others, including Justin Shell, a new technician who also happens to be hearing impaired. Daniel has, naturally, helped Justin’s transition.
 
“If he gets frustrated I’ll help him out,” Daniel says. “I know what it’s like. I was frustrated early on, too.”
 
But Daniel’s frustrations have evaporated now, and he’s focused on his path.
 
So what’s the story here? One of a gifted technician with an intense passion to grow, and the coworkers who love him.
 
As stories go, this one is pretty good.

By Dan Nied

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