Van Horn Auto Technician Max Umbs Competes on International Stage at Kia Skill World Cup in Korea

June 5th, 2024 by


Max Umbs, is an auto technician with 25 years of experience, who works at Van Horn Kia of Sheboygan. He is known for his meticulous attention to detail and genuine passion for automotive maintenance. In April 2024, Max achieved a rare and remarkable milestone by winning first place at the Kia Skill National Cup in Irvine, California, surpassing 14 other technicians to claim the title of the nation’s top performer. Following this achievement, Max traveled to Korea to compete in the Kia Skill World Cup, pitting his skills against the best technicians from around the globe.

The Kia Skill National competition in California brings together the finest Kia dealership technicians from across the United States to showcase their expertise in diagnosing and repairing automotive issues. During the competition, technicians undergo strict assessments in five key areas: electrical systems, body network, drivability, engine mechanical, and transmission.

“In the US, you are 15 of the best technicians that we have for Kia,” praised Greg Silvestri, Vice President of Service and After-Sale Operations at Kia America, during the awards ceremony. “You are the best of the best, so thank you!”

Max’s impressive performance secured his place as one of the top two qualifiers from the National event, earning him the opportunity to compete at the Kia Skill World Cup in South Korea. Max’s journey to Korea marks a significant milestone in his career. Despite previous successes at the regional level, including qualifications for the National competition in 2012 and 2018, Max had never advanced to the World competition until now.


On Tuesday, May 14th, the halls of Van Horn Automotive echoed with pride and anticipation as they celebrated and bid farewell to their champion. Max explained that as he boarded his plane, “I was feeling a bit nervous, but I didn’t dwell on it much. My focus was on giving my best effort and learning from the experience, no matter what the outcome. I was determined to make the most of the opportunity and come away with valuable lessons.”

During the World Cup, the competition took place over two days, starting with a written test and followed by the hands-on portion. Unlike the National competition, where technicians diagnosed multiple vehicles with a single failure, at the World Cup, contestants were tasked with diagnosing a single vehicle with multiple failures. While Max didn’t secure a medal at the World Cup, he did receive the Excellence Award.

Max expressed profound gratitude to his colleagues and mentors for their unwavering support throughout his journey. In a heartfelt message, Max stated, “I wanted to thank EVERYONE in the Van Horn Automotive Group for the amount of support and recognition I have received through all of this. Quite frankly, I don’t know that I have the words to truly express how much that means to me.”

As he returned home, his success stands as a testament to the limitless potential within each technician and the unwavering support of the Van Horn team. With eyes set on the future, Van Horn takes great pride in having the nation’s top Kia technician as part of their team, optimistic that Max’s journey will inspire others to reach for the stars.