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Grant Koba-Nelson

Grant Koba-Nelson JVS Grad Fine-tunes Career

Grant Koba-Nelson , Auto Technology , Class of: 1990
Grant Koba-Nelson has never traveled around the world.

But as the Vehicle Maintenance Coordinator for the Lorain County Sheriff's Office, he cannot say the same for the department's 35 patrol cars, which together are driven more than 46,000 miles each month.

"In other words, our fleet circles the earth twice a month, over half-a-million miles each year," said Koba-Nelson.

Koba-Nelson, of Brownhelm Township, got his first job as an auto mechanic at an independent automotive repair garage when he was a student in the Lorain County JVS Auto Technology program.

"I didn't want to waste any time getting started on my career," said Koba-Nelson. "I learned the ropes and eventually took over the management of the garage. Ultimately I ended up buying the business, which I operated for 3 years."

Koba-Nelson sold his business when the opportunity to become an auto technician at the Sheriff's Office came along. "I was a mechanic for 8 years for the Sheriff's Office and was promoted to Vehicle Maintenance Coordinator in 2011."

"I take great pride in my work and in trying to keep the public safe by ensuring that our deputies can respond as quick as possible in safe vehicles," said Koba-Nelson.

Overall, Koba-Nelson is responsible for maintaining 92 vehicles used by deputies and detectives, including patrol cars, vans and SWAT vehicles-not a small task for the sole mechanic at the facility.

"All the personnel at the Sheriff's Office rely on dependable transportation," said Koba-Nelson, 40. "I'd put our fleet against any other fleet in Ohio."

Koba-Nelson begins each day with walk-arounds, visually inspecting the vehicles, looking for problems such as oil leaks, uneven tire wear and broken head and tail lights.

"I have it down to a science. It doesn't take that long to do the daily inspection and it helps me prioritize the cars that need the most work," he said.

Koba-Nelson said that he services 3 to 4 cars each day, performing tasks such as tune-ups, oil changes, tire and brake repairs.

"Once in awhile, I might have to replace an engine or transmission, but not often," said Koba-Nelson, whose budget for parts is about $35,000 annually.

The tumultuous economy also has challenged Koba-Nelson to do more with less, meaning that no new vehicles will be purchased in 2012.

The Sheriff's Office garage has undergone several advancements since Koba-Nelson was hired in 2003, including purchasing a computer to update vehicle maintenance records.

"Staying abreast of evolving technology is also important," said Koba-Nelson. "Today's cars have multiple computers," he said. "So I rely on our diagnostic equipment to troubleshoot and detect problems."

Koba-Nelson also serves as the Sheriff's Driving Instructor, teaching refresher courses in the classroom and in the field.

"It made sense," said Koba-Nelson, who raced stock cars at the Lorain County and Sandusky Speedways and also taught his two children how to ride and race go-carts.

"I knew that if I could teach a four-year-old to race a go-cart, I could teach a deputy to drive a patrol car," Koba-Nelson chuckled. "Seriously though, these deputies have so much going through their heads already when responding to hot calls. It helps them to know the dynamics of the cars they're driving, especially at high speeds and under difficult weather and road conditions."

Koba-Nelson was glad that he had the option to choose a career-technical career path and credits the JVS with giving him a great start. "What I learned about the fundamentals of vehicle repair, computer theory and electronics gave me the foundation that I needed to hit the ground running toward a great career in vehicle maintenance."
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