ABRA Auto Body & Glass is going to unusual lengths to recruit new technicians and get ahead of a looming labor shortage in the auto body industry.

The Brooklyn Park-based auto body repair company is offering $2,500 cash rewards for new hire referrals, paying apprentices during a five-week training program, and guaranteeing them tools, industry certification and jobs after completing the program.

Classes start at ABRA’s Twin Cities Career Development Academy in Eagan July 11.

“Today’s vehicles are becoming much more advanced, requiring a technical aptitude and specific repair procedures,” ABRA Chief People Officer David Kuhl said in a prepared statement. “Students can look forward to an incredibly rewarding career in a stable industry, with significant earning potential.”

ABRA technicians make $80,000 a year on average while one in five make more than $100,000, the company said, but more than half of auto body technicians are more than 50 years old and nearing retirement.

The apprentices will start at $15 per hour after completing the program.

Enrollment in the Springboard apprenticeship program is open now for high school or GED graduates 18 and older. Enrolled students become ABRA employees when they start the classes, with job duties that range from assisting repairs and sourcing parts to washing and detailing vehicles. The Springboard program includes room and board for out-of-state students.

Founded in 1984, ABRA has more than 5,000 employees in 24 states and is Minnesota’s 16th-fastest growing private company, according to the Business Journal’s most recent Fast 50 ranking.

The company reported $565.3 million in revenue for 2014 and said last month that revenue has since grown to more than $1 billion.

San Francisco-based buyout firm Hellman & Friedman and ABRA’s senior management team purchased the company in 2014.

Source: Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal