Tech-Focused On the Road Garage Gets $3M Seed Funding From Perot Foundation to Rebuild More Than Cars

Founded by social entrepreneur Michelle Corson, On the Road Garage intends to fix cars affordably, while tackling underemployment and transportation challenges among vulnerable populations. The first location in Irving is now open, and applications for technology-forward apprenticeships and training are online.

Michelle Corson is a car buff with a mission to help working families build prosperity. Her latest endeavor, On the Road Garage, which has received $3 million in seed funding from The Perot Foundation, fires on all the cylinders.

Michelle Corson, founder of the On the Road companies. [Photo:John B. Sutton Jr.]

The tech-focused collision and repair center, which opened its first location in Irving, builds on the founder’s On the Road Companies, a family of nonprofits and social enterprises started by Corson that revolve around solving societal and transportation challenges.

On the Road Garage employs experienced master collision technicians, estimators, and painters. And it aims for fast, competitively priced collision repair services and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) repair for both individuals and insurance companies. But it’s much more than that.

The woman-owned garage is part of an economic mobility and workforce development initiative to address transportation challenges and underemployment among vulnerable populations including the formerly incarcerated, victims of domestic violence, and other marginalized workers,” the company said in a statement.

“When you choose to have your car repaired at On the Road Garage, you are supporting a social enterprise that is giving hard-to-employ individuals an opportunity for wealth-building in an essential business,” said CEO and founder Corson, who is proud to be opening the new garage—and creating jobs with high earning potential—during the pandemic.

CEO Michelle Corson assists with the details at On the Road.

CEO Michelle Corson assists with the details at On the Road.

Corson sees the On the Road Garage’s training program as a means to fill a skills gap and talent pipeline shortage. The business offers technology-forward apprenticeships and online training in partnership with the Texas Workforce Commission.

“We’re building the workforce of the future in smart car technology through our apprenticeships and online education,” she said.

The company’s online training course, which launched this month offering certification in ADAS technology, upgrades the skills of collision and mechanical technicians who may be furloughed due to COVID-19 with the most advanced driver assistance technology curriculum available today, according to the company.

That’s important, the company notes, because the existing talent pool is aging out of the collision and smart car repair industry, and the pipeline of new talent is depleted due to a focus on four-year college and disinvestment in trades. The company also wants to inspire interest in STEM-oriented fields with its year-long, paid apprenticeships that begin in September.

“We expect our apprentices to be placed in jobs prior to completion of the program or to launch their own businesses, with the potential of earning a six-figure income without a four-year degree,” Corson said.

A second On the Road Garage location will open in Dallas later this fall.

The On the Road companies began in 2011, when Corson founded Champion Impact Capital to make investments in social enterprises. As Corson considered ways to help working families thrive through better transportation, that led to the formation of the On the Road Sustainability Funds to help attract investors “who understood that better cars lead to better jobs and better lives.” In 2013, the social entrepreneur formed On the Road Lending to offer low-cost car loans to those who need it most. Another business, On the Road Motors, sources low-cost cars for the company’s clients at auction.

For more information

Applications for both programs are online. To apply for apprenticeships or online training, those interested can go to www.ontheroadgarage.com.

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