Cover Story: How to Pack the House

Indiana’s State Maintenance Council makes a comeback.

If the IMTA’s plans for a Maintenance Council have sounded modest so far, don’t be fooled. At the urging of several Safety Management Council members, Eder is already looking into the possibility of holding a state technician skills competition in 2009. That’s not modest thinking, folks!

“At the April meeting, the Wal-Mart guys said, ‘Hey, we do this at Wal-Mart, and there are some states that get involved,’ then sure enough, I got a call from a guy at Batesville Casket Company who sent me information on a professional technician skills competition, and they’re interested in getting one started,” Eder reports.

“I can see doing this in conjunction with our truck driver championships, because we have the facilities,” she says. “Maybe in 2009; we’ll have to investigate and see if people are interested. And of course, we’ll need volunteers! But it sounds like there’s getting to be enough interest, so that’s encouraging.”

That news makes Roberts, the Godfather of the IMTA’s Maintenance Council, a happy man.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea (for IMTA), because they’re going to get a whole new segment of people involved who have never been involved before,” he says. “It recognizes that the guy who works on the truck is just as important as the guy who drives the truck. You increase your participation, you get more help from the companies, you’re going to have more people at your competition, you’re going to have more people at your banquet, so it’s just a great idea.”


After all the planning and surveys are through, it’s the fleets of Indiana that will determine the success of a State Maintenance Council.
We spoke with two IMTA members to ask what they thought of plans to bring more maintenance information to Safety Management Council meetings—or to re-launch the Maintenance Council—and found them to be singing from the same choir book as Riegle and Roberts.

“Wal-Mart has been involved with the IMTA since 1990,” says Bob Barger, Wal-Mart service manager, based in Seymour, IN. “We feel a Maintenance Council would be a benefit to network best practices with other companies, and provide a format for our technicians to compete with other technicians statewide to show their skills.

“There is a wealth of new technology that is being introduced in new equipment,” Barger continues. “By sharing information with other carriers, this would allow us to stay on top of the new technology, and equip our technicians with up to date information.
“Information sharing, best practices, networking and training all would be a benefit to any company,” he says. “Being committed to what you are doing and how well you do it is a choice. Continuous learning and involvement are a big part of professional development.”

Will McCormick, part-owner of Vincennes, IN-based Bestway Express, Inc. was one of the “newbies” at April’s meeting. He brought along his maintenance director, Phil Conover, another first-timer, and the two plan on becoming regulars.

“My family’s been part of IMTA since the beginning, and I figure I’ve got to keep it up,” McCormick says. “Tisha asked me if I wanted to come, and I figure I’ve got to do everything I can to support IMTA.

“After Tisha talked to me, I got to talking to Lance, and he told me that it was a maintenance meeting and we would talk about ways to save money,” he says. “Any time there’s a way to save money I’m going to listen.

“The meeting was great,” McCormick says. “It’s nice to hear that everybody else is having the same problems you’re having. It helps people learn, it helps put people in contact with other maintenance people. One thing in I see is that maintenance people, other than TMC, don’t really have the connections like the rest of the trucking industry has. What this would do is, if I have a problem and I need help, maybe I can call over to Bob Baylor’s and talk to them, or Smithway Trucking and talk to those guys, just because I know them from this council. Sometimes just venting gets your thoughts out there, and then you get a different answer.”

McCormick is equally enthusiastic about the proposed technician competition.

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