Sacramento techs share in Mercedes-Benz honors

mglover@sacbee.comNovember 23, 2012 

Beating a team of Mercedes-Benz automotive technicians in a competition on their home German soil is nice enough.

Having two Sacramento-area techs on the winning U.S. team: priceless.

A United States team that included two auto technicians with the Sacramento-based Von Housen Automotive Group of Mercedes-Benz dealers this week won the title of "World's Best Workshop Team" at the 2012 Mercedes-Benz Global TechMasters International competition in Stuttgart, Germany.

Ralph Johonnot, with Mercedes-Benz of Rocklin, and Scott Baylis, with Mercedes-Benz of Sacramento, were on the American team that Daimler AG crowned champions on Wednesday.

George Grinzewitsch Jr., who heads the auto group, said: "The entire Von Housen Automotive Group family is proud of the accomplishments of two of our finest technicians.

"To have competed against over 10,000 technicians worldwide … is a testament to our commitment to service (on) one of the finest luxury automobiles in the world."

Just getting on the U.S. team was a prolonged process against top-flight Mercedes-Benz techs.

Johonnot and Baylis qualified for the seven-member U.S. team in June following a nationwide competition that included more than 2,000 technicians. That competition was sponsored by Mercedes-Benz USA to identify the top performers at dealerships nationwide.

Von Housen officials said this year marked the first time in the history of the international competition that one auto group had two technicians make the team.

Starting Monday this week and over the next two days, Johonnot, Baylis and the U.S. team in Germany went up against teams of Mercedes technicians from 15 other nations.

The international teams competed before judges in various tests designed to measure auto tech skills and teamwork.

In addition to sharing in team honors, Johonnot won the bronze medal in the "World's Best Maintenance Technician" category.

In the team competition, the U.S. techs beat out silver medalist and host Germany. The team from Japan took the bronze in the biannual passenger cars competition.

Von Housen Automotive Group also includes Mercedes-Benz of El Dorado Hills, Smart Center Sacramento and Sprinter of Rocklin.

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