Go, Nebraska!

In this issue you're going to read a lot about the Technology & Maintenance Council's (TMC) SuperTech2008 National Technician Skills Competition. But I want to spend some time here talking about another technician skills competition that hasn't even happened yet.

If you follow my blog, "Swapping Parts," on the www.fleetmag.com Web site, then you already know that we here at Fleet Maintenance are working with the Nebraska Trucking Association (NTA) to help them promote their first ever Nebraska state technician championship, expected to take place in late June 2009.

Our involvement started a few months ago, when I got an E-mail from TMCSuperTech colleague Bonne Karim, director of training for the U.S. Postal Service. Bonne was writing to ask if I'd be interested in talking to Amanda Schuier, who is spearheading the development of the first-ever technician competition for NTA. Bonne thought that we at Fleet Maintenance could offer her some advice and assistance.

The funny thing was, Amanda, who works in human resources, recruiting and training at Omaha Truck Center, a Nebraska Freightliner dealer, had recently attended the TMCSuperTech2008 event in Nashville, and she and I probably passed each other on the SuperTech competition floor a dozen times and didn't even know it!

Anyway, this is a perfect example of what can happen when you belong to a great group like TMC. People make connections, people introduce each other, and before you know it interesting things start to happen.

In this case, we contacted Amanda to see what we could do to help her out. She asked if we could offer any "tips for first timers," and we enthusiastically agreed to help with whatever information we could share with her. What could be better than to be involved in such a worthwhile project right from the start?

After a few conversations, it seemed obvious that the best thing we could do to help Amanda was to promote her event to our readers, to help build up interest and support among Nebraska fleets and vendors, support that could be instrumental in getting this event off the ground and making it a success.

At the same time, we felt that by giving this project a lot of visibility, we could also encourage other state trucking associations and maintenance councils to start talking about putting on their own competitions.

To that end, we have started hosting a new blog at www.fleetmag.com, written by Schuier and describing her adventures in starting up a state-wide event in less than a year. If you haven't already been reading it, you should, even if you're not involved any technician skills competition and never expect to be.

I also invite you to comment on Amanda's blog. Give her suggestions. Ask her for advice on planning your own competition. Offer her a pat on the back. If you're in Nebraska, offer to help!

As I write this, the steering committee for the Nebraska competition has just had its first meeting, and Amanda is all charged up to get this show on the road.

June 2009 will be here before you know it. No one is more aware of that than Amanda Schuier, but if the community of Fleet Maintenance subscribers joins together to support her, we might just be able to help her help fleet maintenance technicians in Nebraska.