After nearly nine years, I am moving on from my post as editor of Fleet Maintenance magazine, and it's a strange feeling to say goodbye. I can't say that I expected to be here this long when I took the job back in 2000, but here I am about to take my leave, and I can honestly say that it's been a nice nine years.
I'm embarking on a new career as a free-lance alternative fuels consultant, and I'm very excited about what the future holds. Over the years, I've found that fleet maintenance managers as a community want to do the right thing, even if there's not always agreement within the community as to what "the right thing" is. Well, as I see it, reducing our dependence on diesel fuel and gasoline is the right thing, and I'll be dedicating my energies in the coming years to helping fleets "go green" in ways that benefit their clients and customers, the public, and themselves.
What I'll miss most about this job is the chance to meet and interview so many interesting people who are working hard to change their industry for the better.
For example, there's Amanda Schuier, who approached us last year looking for help starting a statewide fleet technician competition in Nebraska, and quickly became a guest blogger on our website and a great friend. And, among many Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) members who helped Amanda get her project off the ground (see Amanda's guest editorial in the back of this issue), Roger Maye of Consolidated Metco stands out as someone who not only shared his invaluable knowledge and experience with Amanda, but made the whole experience so much fun that Amanda could hardly wait to host her own SuperTech. Thank you, Amanda and Roger.
Then there's Frank Nicholson, VP of maintenance at TransAm Trucking, who contacted me a few months ago to suggest that we do a story on diesel particulate filter (DPF) cleaning. You'll see the story on p. 6 of this issue, and if you read it through you'll see that Frank has given this issue a great deal of serious thought. The fact that he came to Fleet Maintenance magazine, out of all the magazines he could have chosen, and asked us to shine some light on the "Pandora's Box" of DPF cleaning is beyond flattering. Thank you, Frank.
If I started to list all the TMC folks who've made my job memorable, this column will go on forever, but there are a few standouts: Roy Gambrell, of TruckIt, Inc., who led the charge in the fight against rustjacking, and let me tell his story on our pages; Steph Sabo, of Norrenberns Truck Service, whose concerns about truck complexity issues led to one of the most interesting stories I've ever done; Bonne Karim, with the U.S. Postal Service, whose invitation to visit the USPS training center in Norman, OK, led to some of my most valuable on-the-job training.
I also have to acknowledge my fellow editors in the fleet industry, who have always been so generous with their knowledge and friendship, even though we worked for competing magazines.
One experience stands out: several years ago I got a call from Brian Strach, then in sales for a leading component company, and Brian invited me to be part of the Service Technicians Society, a new group forming within the Society of Automotive Engineers that would offer training and professional advancement for heavy vehicle technicians. That group didn't survive long at SAE, but Brian was a believer, and he went straight to TMC and told the staff there that they had to keep the technicians' group going. To their credit, the TMC folks brought our group into the fold, and the Professional Technicians Development Committee was born. The first objective of PTDC was to create a national truck technician competition, and a year later TMC held the very first SuperTech.
Now, as TMC prepares to host its fifth competition, I look back on that experience with a great deal of pride and satisfaction. I only played a small role in PTDC, but it's been gratifying to see how the work of that committee has had such a profound effect on so many people.
Do your technicians have what it takes to compete nationally?
The best technicians in the country square off at SuperTech2005
It's not just the technicians who have to prepare for a competition; imagine the pressure on the organizers!