Get on the Bus

Florida school bus technicians go back to the classroom every June.


"International flies in their instructors, and the technicians have three full days with the instructors from International to learn all the idiosyncrasies of the International bus, with the understanding that they don't have to teach the brakes, the lifts, and the stop arms and the rest of the specialty equipment," Morgan explains. "So that gives the technicians and the instructors time to get one-on-one training, so that you'll have a technician who can take care of anything on an International bus. The same with Thomas and the same with Blue Bird."

Carrier air conditioning is also on board, according to Morgan. "They provide two full days of training, so if you come out of that class you have the ability to apply to Carrier to do in-house warranty work, or how to troubleshoot and repair all of the Carrier air conditioners. We found that two days was the correct time for Carrier air conditioning, and then for the other day and a half we put in different classes that we think are applicable."

UP TO DATE

For Barb Aulivola, district sales representative for Permatex, involvement in the FAPT Technicians' Workshop has provided an unparalleled opportunity to reach technicians who use the company's gasket and sealant products.

"There are so many products that are just core in every shop," Aulivola relates. "A lot of the time, these guys sometimes are not very clear on what works better where. And technology has changed, so it's just about keeping these guys up to date.

"Sometimes the first thing out of a shop supervisor's mouth is, 'I've been having problems sealing this transaxle case cover, and I've been using silicone on it, and I've been using your Right Stuff product on it, and it's not working,'" she says. "And I proceed to tell him that those are not the right products to be using for that application; you need to be using an anaerobic gasket maker. So, yeah, we run into things like that."

Aulivola, whose class at the Workshop attracted 113 students this past June, finds that the technicians are "pleasantly surprised" to realize that they can learn something new about a product they've been using for years.

"After the presentation, they'll say, 'I really did learn something that will help me make my job a whole lot easier.'"

HANDS-ON

FAPT lets Aulivola and the other trainers select their own training topics and methods, and Aulivola tries to include as many hands-on demos as she can. At this year's event, she introduced a new headlight lens restoration kit and disc brake caliper lubricant that Permatex has brought to market this year.

But, according to Morgan, Aulivola gets high compliments from her students for not using class time to pitch her products.

"I never position my product training that way," Aulivola says. They're here to get information, and I'm here to help them. That usually results in them purchasing the product somewhere down the road, but my main focus is helping the technicians and giving them product knowledge. I focus on gasket-making materials that take the place of cut gaskets, gasket sealants that they can use with form-in-place gaskets, anaerobic chemistry—and that entails mainly threadlockers, and gasket makers and retaining compounds—then a half-dozen specialty products. It's Chemistry 101!

"I just think it's wonderful that the state provides this for these guys," she says. "They get updated on engines, transmissions, braking systems—it's just terrific for them."

THE ROAD TO SUCCESS

The Technicians' Workshop offers attendees more than one way to succeed, according to Morgan.

"In the evenings, the first two nights, we have tests," he explains. "We have a vehicle service technician test, which would be for your entry-level technician. That has 60 questions on it, and if they pass, if they get more than a 75 percent on it, we send the district a certification letter saying that you now qualify as a service technician for five years, and you get a patch."

FAPT also offers tests and certifications for Master Service Technician, Parts Specialist, and, new this year, for Shop Service Manager.

"From the feedback, we found that district managers would like to have a course set up for training managers in the future, so we developed a shop service manager certification exam and we offered it for the first time this year, even though there wasn't a class," Morgan explains. "You had to have permission from your district, because we don't want to take a chance on someone taking the course, taking the test, then going back to their district and saying, 'Hey, I'm smarter than you.' That course you have to get an 80, and that's got two essay questions on it—that really threw a wrench into it for some people—as well as 90 questions."

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