By: Madison Smalstig
Larry Featherston has been working on cars for as long as he can remember. He grew up “back in the day where farmers did their own stuff,” and therefore, as a farmer’s kid, had to learn how to be self-sufficient at a very young age. One of the skills he learned was how to fix and do his own mechanical work on cars.
As the group leader of the mechanics at MITS, Larry is in charge of managing the repairmen, scheduling when repairs should be made, training the mechanics whenever new equipment is added to the buses, and, of course, working on the buses.
Larry started at MITS in 1982 as a “body man,” repairing damage to the body of the buses and fixing the paint whenever the vehicles suffered from accidents. Over time he started to do more work on the mechanical side of the buses and eventually, switched completely to that form of repair. He performed so well at those positions that after years of hard work he progressed to working as an A-level mechanic, or the highest level mechanic. Several years later he was promoted to group leader.
Since Larry began working at MITS, the technology and the repair processes for the buses have changed. This is especially true for the electrical component of the vehicles. “Years ago, you would have wiring harnesses,” said Larry. “Nowadays, you have little electrical modules all around the bus.” This little electrical modules, essentially send signals and information to each other while the buses are running. If a bus is damaged, then those modules at least have an idea of what happened. By accessing the information from the modules through their computer, the mechanics in the garage are able to determine the problem quicker and fix it. “The technology gets you started in the right direction a lot easier,” said Larry.
Although this improvement has greatly affected the pace of repairs in the shop, it hasn’t completely changed Larry’s daily routine. “I just know the buses,” said Larry. Although some days he has an unexpected challenge, he is experienced enough with these buses to know where to start and what to do.
When asked why he has an affinity for fixing cars, Larry answered, “I just like taking something that is broken and fixing it. Taking something that is old and rusted and making it new again.” This is exactly what Larry does for MITS buses each and every day, just on a much larger scale.