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From Oil Changes To Master Technician
Success Story
Haidlen Ford Senior Master Technician Noah Russell, left, and wife Rachel (Leal) Russell pose with some of the hardware he was presented with upon completion of intensive Ford training. Marg Jackson/The Leader

He started in the business in 2010, a self-proclaimed “oil change guy.”

Now, Noah Russell has become a master of his craft, receiving recognition as a Senior Master Technician for the Ford Motor Company. He works as a mechanic/technician at the local Haidlen Ford in Oakdale.

It takes hundreds of hours, both with Ford on site and through computer training to achieve the certification, which only comes after rigorous coursework.

“I went and graduated from UTI (Universal Technical Institute) before I came here,” Russell said. “You have to start at doing the grunt work and work your way up.”

The young technician had always been interested in vehicles and what makes them run, having a 1952 Ford F1 that is his pride and joy, handed down from his grandfather and kept in pristine shape by the young mechanic.

He started with oil changes and sometimes even pushing a broom at the Haidlen dealership but Russell said he knew he wanted more. And he was willing to push himself through the hours of training to get there.

“As part of being a Ford employee, to do warranty work, you have to be certified by Ford themselves,” he said of undergoing the training that allowed him to move from the oil changes to the intensive mechanical work. “There were schools they sent you to, in Pleasanton and Brentwood, it’s 550 hours and each individual class is a minimum of three days.”

Computer training can be done anywhere, but other classes required the travel.

“Whenever Ford comes up with a new class, I’ll have to go to it,” he added of staying updated on the latest techniques and Ford service rules and regulations.

Shortly after Russell started at Haidlen, Rachel Leal joined the team as a parts driver, later working her way up to a counter person in the parts department – and working her way into Russell’s heart.

The two have been married almost a year, ready to celebrate their anniversary on Nov. 8.

“I worked here about a year before he asked me out,” Rachel said, chuckling.

Russell was born in Modesto but lived in Oakdale most of his life. Rachel was from nearby Escalon and the two went to Knights Ferry on their first date for a hike, where Rachel sprained her ankle.

The same one I kept spraining in high school,” said the former EHS athlete.

For Russell, his lifelong love affair with the Ford brand drove him to become a master at his chosen field of mechanics, and he is happy and proud to serve the community.

“It means a lot to me because I’m a diehard Ford person,” he said. “I’m 25 years old and already a senior master at my craft.”