The Winners Circle

In just under a year, members of the Nebraska SuperTech steering committee created, planned and executed a statewide SuperTech competition. Take a second to think about that: In under a year, the committee went from absolutely nothing to hosting a statewide event with 30 technicians competing.

As soon as you have the opportunity to attend a SuperTech competition or speak with a technician who has competed, you'll understand what it's all about: we are doing this because of our technicians. Instead of focusing on the day-to-day work technicians do, we are finally taking a moment to showcase their talents!

Shortly after the Nebraska competition had ended, I asked Jamie Morse, a technician from Bosselman Carriers, if he had enjoyed himself. He replied that he did. I asked him if he had learned anything, and he replied even more emphatically that he had. And isn't that what it's all about--creating an event to recognize our techs while also giving them the opportunity to learn something in a new environment and enjoy themselves? I would even go so far as to say SuperTech may help motivate your seasoned technicians to learn something new. What better recruiting and retention tool is there?

My challenge to Fleet Maintenance magazine readers everywhere is this: seriously consider creating a SuperTech event in your state, or even within your own company. I am particularly proud of my own company, Omaha Truck Center. Not only did we participate in SuperTech, we also created our own competition, UltimateTech. We had 111 technicians compete, and sent the best of the best to Nebraska SuperTech. I recently asked our company president, Trey Mytty, why he was so willing to get involved. Trey told me that it was because the technicians are a very important part of our company; they are the ones who keep our customers' trucks rolling down the road. Trey could see the recruitment, retention and training value within the competition.

OK, you've decided, you're ready to commit to SuperTech. What next?

Look around you, and find some TMC members who are willing to help. The team in Nebraska simply could not have conducted a skills competition without fellow TMC members. We would like to single out a few of them for special recognition: consultant Darrell "Uncle Darrell" Hicks, Bonne Karim from USPS, Roger Maye from ConMet, and Carl Tapp of P.A.M. Transport. These four went above and beyond the call of duty, and endured many phone calls and conversations with members of our steering committee.

There is also a fantastic publication produced by TMC called "How to Host a Technician Skills Competition." Be sure to read that at least five times before you start up your own competition. I'm only half kidding! If all else fails, feel free to give me a call. I promise to "pay it forward" and give you a few hours by phone or e-mail like Bonne, Carl, Darrell and Roger gave me.

Another great way to get involved in SuperTech is to attend the competition. It sounds obvious, but it's true. Meet people involved with SuperTech. Ask them how they got competitions started. Observe. Watch the technicians compete. Remember that people at TMC meetings want you to succeed. They want you to come back a year later with a successful competition under your belt so you, too, will become a SuperTech fanatic like I have become.

I would be remiss if I made it sound like planning the competition was a cake walk. It certainly wasn't. But the competition was a lot easier to plan because of the resources already in place. To those of you contemplating starting up your own technician competition, remember that you have so many options in place to help you get started. I'm passing on the torch, here, to another state that's willing to take up the charge.

Here are a few comments from Larry Johnson, president of the Nebraska Trucking Association, which helped sponsor the event: "We are amazed at the amount of support we received from technicians, sponsors and judges for the inaugural Nebraska SuperTech competition. We know it is the first of many more competitions to come."

The first Nebraska state Grand Champion, Tim Zieman, from Lincoln Truck Center, will compete in this year's national SuperTech in Raleigh, NC in September. Good luck to Tim and all of the other technicians competing in this year's event!

Amanda Schuier got her start in trucking at a very early age. Her grandfather owned a Mack truck dealership and she remembers being fascinated by the "big trucks" from an early age. After graduating from Creighton University with a degree in Journalism and Spanish, she began her career within the industry. She currently works full time in Human Resources at Omaha Truck Center Inc., in Omaha, Neb. She resides in Omaha with her husband, Nick.