ST. PAUL, Alta. – Dorien Lozeau opens the door leading inside CSN Black Ace, an auto body shop based in St. Paul. Past the reception room is another door leading toward a huge space where employees are working on a vehicle.
In a corner, Lozeau walks up a set of stairs leading into an office. Outside that office provides a higher vantage point of Black Ace’s auto body shop, where vehicles, tools, and machines are spread out.
Inside the office is a box, a certificate, and a trophy on a table, representing Lozeau’s accolade from a recent competition. Opening the rectangular box, a medal is revealed inside – the Medallion of Excellence.
Lozeau recently returned from an international trade competition held in Denmark, where he won the medallion of Excellence and the special award for sustainability at the 2022 World Skills Special Edition for Car Painting.
He recalls his journey leading to the world stage.
It was 2018, according to Lozeau, when he started studying the four-year Auto Body Technician program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT). In 2019, his first-year instructor at the time, Cecile Bukmeier, introduced him to the Provincial Skills Canada Competition in the Car Painting category.
“I was pretty new to the trade back then, so I actually placed second that time,” he says, but he went on to compete again at the 2021 Skills Alberta Virtual competition, where he won the gold medal. This qualified him to compete at the national level, where he also won a gold medal.
“But then it wasn’t a qualifying year,” says Lozeau, explaining the international World Skill’s competition only happens every two years, and the previous qualification was last held in 2019, where he fell short.
But another attempt at the 2022 Skills Canada National Competition saw Lozeau add another gold to his collection, and advanced him to the 2022 World Skills Special Edition. He says the timing of the world competition has been a challenge.
“We only had a couple of months to train,” says Lozeau, adding, it did help that the World Skills trainer for Canada’s Car Painting category was Bukmeier. “So, it kind of worked out this year that I won because we both live in Alberta,” he says, explaining Bukmeier would have been the trainer no matter who won at nationals.
So, instead of Bukmeier flying to other provinces to train Canada’s representative, she only had to travel two hours from Edmonton, which helped with the “time crunch,” according to Lozeau.
“We were able to get in lots of training this year, considering we only had a couple of months to train,” he says. He says some of his counterparts from other countries had been preparing for the world competition for years.
During the event in Denmark, Lozeau says the competition was intense, and a small point can make a difference. “So, you got to be on your A game the whole time.”
He says the competitors were “only a couple of points” within each other. “Everyone is so good, and it’s just a matter of making one tiny mistake, and the other guy passes you.”
Lozeau says while he placed fifth overall, “it’s a good pat on the back just to make it this far and get to the world level – it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
The gold medal was a tie between France’s Victor Bethelier and North Korea’s Jongyun Kim, so there was no silver medalist. The bronze medal was awarded to United Kingdom’s Craig Kennedy.
As for the Excellence of Medallion, it was awarded to the fourth, fifth, and sixth rankers in the overall competition. The other two Medallions of Excellence were awarded to Johannes Brandl of Germany, who ranked fourth, and Australia’s Isabella Turrise, who ranked sixth.
Lozeau then reaches for the certificate at the table that comes with the trophy, where it says he also won the special award for sustainability. The award means that among the competitors, he ranked first for using the least amount of material to complete his work.
“The one thing I definitely love about [the auto body trade] is it’s a hands-on thing,” says Lozeau.
“It’s really rewarding when you finish a project – especially when it takes months and sometimes years if you’re doing a big restoration,” he says. “Just being able to take a step back and look at your progress and see the finished product is really rewarding.”
He says his interest in the trade came from watching his father work on projects in their garage as he grew up. “So, I’ve always kind of been around, and it really grew on me.”
Lozeau also says he has been working for CSN Black Ace for around six years, since he was in high school, before ending up studying at NAIT’s Auto Body Technician program. He completed his four-year program earlier this year.
Now 22 years old, Lozeau is now looking forward to what lies ahead.
Corwin Robinson, the owner/operator of CSN Black Ace, says he is proud and excited about Lozeau’s accomplishments. “It’s a great accomplishment by a young fellow that’s very dedicated to the field.”
“[Lozeau] is a very talented individual who wants to do very well in anything that he does,” says Robinson. “He’s been with us for a very long time, and he knows the end result we want here in Black Ace – we want top quality,” which, he says, Lozeau delivers.
Robinson also offers a piece of advice to young individuals going into trades and who want to perform well.
“All the young kids we do have here working are very dedicated, as Dorien is, and that’s why they do well,” says Robinson, no matter the type of trade they plan to enter. “You have to like what you’re doing to do well at the job.”