Future Techs

I’ve led many tours of Mercury Racing over the past 30 years. People are constantly amazed to see our skilled labor handcrafting outboards, sterndrives, propellers and accessories. Some of the more common questions asked are, “where does your labor comes from and how do they learn their skills?”

Mercury Racing technicians handcraft products with passion and perfection.

Our employees come with a strong skill set and work ethic in place. The only training needed are for things that may be specific to the job at hand. I attribute their strong  work ethic to the Midwest culture. In Fond du Lac, it most likely also stems from the rich German ethnic mix and heavy farming influence. I truly believe farming brings with it an inherent mechanical aptitude that has been ingrained within Mercury since the late Carl Kiekhaefer founded the company in 1939.

The education and interests of today’s generation has changed. Millennials grow up using technology – aspiring to play video games and becoming “device” experts from an early age. They are used to instant gratification.

I recently came across an article in Forbes magazine entitled, “Why We Desperately Need To Bring Back Vocational Training in Schools.”  The timing of the article couldn’t have been better.

Mercury Racing employees come with a strong skill set and work ethic in place.

Industries such as ours are beginning to feel the pinch in finding skilled labor with a strong work ethic and passion to build and service the products we manufacture. Many say Millennials don’t want to get their hands dirty or have the desire to actually learn skills to build or repair products. I personally believe they are as interested and as capable as ever. We just need to provide them the education and tools they need to succeed.

Millennial Diamond

Marine Service School Senior Michael Signorelli shadowed with Stock Outboard competitors Talbot at the 2015 Super Boat International Offshore World Championships. The twin Mercury 2.5 EFIs were prepped by his uncles Marty and Joe Signorelli (Diamond Marine).

Marty Signorelli – owner of Diamond Marine – a Mercury Racing dealer located in Ft. Lauderdale – made me aware of one school that is making a difference when it comes to filling the void in skilled labor. His nephew Michael attends Coral Shores High School in Key Largo, Florida. The school has a dedicated marine vocational program. Students who attend the 4-year program learn skills to service marine engines.  Several current and former students work in marine  work in marine shops or related businesses on the water.  I spoke with instructor Chris Catlett regarding the program. Chris has been teaching  for 13 years. He is a 20-year Coast Guard Veteran with over 30 years of marine experience.  Eighty students are currently attending the program.

Marine Service School Instructor Chris Catlett (L) with former student Blye Hofstetter and Michael Signorelli.

“Mercury Marine helped launch the Marine Service School program. We have 60 Mercury outboards made up of a mix of 2-stroke and 4-stroke models. The kids learn  everything; from  rebuilding powerheads and gearcases to diagnosing and repairing hydraulic and electrical systems. We are one of five marine mechanic trade schools in the nation which provide students an alternative to a formal four year college education,” said Chris.

For the past several years, Chris has taken the students to Key West for the annual Super Boat International Offshore World Championships. Twelve students got to work with race teams this year.

“The kids see the boats go past the school on their way down to Key West for the races. I feel it is important for them to see the engines in use – be it the recreational outboards they work on day in and day out or the exotic – high powered race motors they see competing in the extreme race environment. They get to see cutting edge technology in their own backyard, ” Chris said.

We encourage poker run and race promoters and participants to invite tech school students to their events. Get them involved. It lights a fire in the students for sure.

2-Stroke DNA

Michael Signorelli has mechanical aptitude built into his DNA. His uncle Marty and Joe are legendary in their ability to maximize the performance of  our legacy 2.5 EFI 2-stroke competition outboards. His father Frank is a private boat captain. Michael started the Marine Service School program in 2015. His first project was rebuilding a 2-stroke 9.9 h.p. Mercury. His current project is a tear down and rebuild of a 75 h.p. OptiMax.

We are thankful for instructors such as Chris Catlett and the various vocational programs around the country. I am confident program graduates will  provide tech support for Mercury and Mercury Racing products well into the future.





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6 thoughts on “Future Techs”

  1. I would love to acknowledge mercury for supporting highschool vocational courses . Having graduated from Eau gallie high school ( which had one of the best programs in the country up till 2016 ). There marine program took a kid with no ambition and created love for everything marine and instilled hard work values and never give up attitude . I have worked for my dealer for 19 years and I currently hold a master outboard certification in mercury outboards, along with many other certifications in all other manufactures .Including sterndrive and motorsports. Never give up and always learn from your mistakes . Keep a level head and most importantly listen and ask questions !

  2. Great article; mike Butler knows my background. We would be very interested in possibilly playing a part in the program. We are Mercury Platinum Premier dealers with 3 locations and are constantly looking for young techs . We offer training and great benefits. Our race boat is Auto Nation Sailor Jerry. Please contact us.

  3. Back in the day when I was Chief Inspector at Plant 4, I got all my layout inspection people matching blue shopcoats to add some professionalism – I would think MPP would have something like that. And say Hi to Marty and Joe Signorelli for me!

  4. I have a 2016 optimax 200 Sportjet on a custom rockproof boat. Does Mercury have or recommend a super charger or any OEM or after market performance enhancing products?



    1. Todd:
      Adding any aftermarket component not available withe original engine voids the warranty. We do not recommend altering our engines beyond their original design intent.

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