Students and representatives from Gulf States Toyota, Oklahoma CareerTech, Fowler Toyota and Moore Norman Technology Center gather for the donation of a Toyota Corolla in September 2019. (Provided)

(Editor’s note: The following piece is presented as part of an advertising package purchased by Fowler Auto Group in 2019.)

One high school afternoon spent working on a friend’s car helped Larry Capps define what he really wanted out of life. But how could he change direction and go from what he felt his parents expected of him — attend a four-year college and earn a degree — toward the life he actually envisioned? Ironically, it was his mother, a dedicated public school teacher, who eventually nudged Larry toward Gordon Cooper Tech Center in Shawnee, where he attended prior to earning his Associate’s Degree at OSU-IT.

Fowlyer Toyota shop manager Larry Capps poses in the dealership. (Provided)

Today, Larry works as Shop Manager for Fowler Toyota in Norman, a dealership with owners dedicated to making CareerTech, and education in general, a priority in the state. And he credits CareerTech for getting him there.

“The instructors at CareerTech were truly concerned with my growth and helped to ensure my skill set was honed for success in a dealership,” said Capps, with a smile on his face.

Partnership for success

Larry’s story is an example of how CareerTech serves as a launchpad for success. It also highlights how Fowler Auto Group dedicates its continued support. Just in September of this year, Fowler Toyota, along with Gulf States Toyota, donated a new Toyota Corolla to Moore Norman Tech Center to help train students on modern machinery. This allows for workplace readiness and filling the growing Skilled Labor Gap, which is a nationwide industry concern. In addition to the Corolla donation, Fowler Ford in Tulsa presented two new Mustang 3.7L engines to Tulsa Tech, and Fowler Honda donated a Honda Civic to the State Department of Education’s Teacher of the Year to drive during her reign.

“The partnership Fowler has with Oklahoma CareerTech is invaluable for our students and program success. CareerTech programs are not complete without the engagement of industry, and Fowler emulates an excellent example of industry engagement,” said Marcie Mack, state director of CareerTech. “This engagement allows CareerTech classrooms to provide the hands-on learning experiences that give students what they need to successfully enter the workforce.”

CareerTech can help you start early

Of course, Larry’s situation was unique. He had parents who encouraged him to take his chosen career path. To encourage more students to explore industry career areas, CareerTech — officially called the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education — has launched It helps students, parents, businesses, and stakeholders to begin the career path journey as early as elementary school.

“CareerTech was an outlet for me,” Capps said. “The instructors allowed me the opportunity to take initiative, practice a skill set, build leadership qualities and work with the industry’s leading minds. Acquiring these core fundamentals allowed for a smooth transition into the automotive industry.”