Tech Shortage?

IN THE APRIL ISSUE of Fleet Maintenance, we ran a cover story on the efforts of one fleet to recruit new technicians for its expanded maintenance program. In that story, Jason Derby, vice president of maintenance services for Milwaukee, WI-based Advanced Waste Systems, and his colleague Bill Christel, vice president of safety, health & environmental, shared with our readers their strategy for filling their job vacancies.

Although they were, at the time, still advertising in the local newspaper, Christel and Derby were excited about the possibilities of recruiting online. They had conducted a resume search on the career website, and had discovered several promising candidates.

I recently checked in with Jason, over two months after we published his story, and I asked him how the technician hunt was going. What he had to say amazed me:

“We’ve had an overwhelming amount of phone calls come in since the article,” he said. “I’ve got a resume right here from a guy as far away as California. And this guy is pretty top-notch. I’m probably going to end up flying him out here for a day. He might be my second-in-command.

“He tracked us down after reading your magazine,” Derby went on. “He read the article and said, ‘Wow, I like what you guys have got going on, and I think I’d be a good fit.’

“You know, if we just wanted to fill slots we could fill slots,” he said. “We talked to some people who just didn’t seem like they were long-term players. We’re looking for some real good long-term people.”

The April article also told of a driver at Advanced Waste Services’ Rockford, IL, location who had been spending one day a week in Milwaukee learning the maintenance end of the business—after he read the article in Fleet Maintenance, that driver approached Derby about becoming more involved in maintenance work, and he will soon be working in the Milwaukee garage two days a week.

In the article, Derby had also mentioned that he needed a technician for his Indiana shop, and he ended up hiring someone from the resume search for that job. That new technician will be spending several weeks training in Milwaukee before going to work full-time in Indiana.

It seems as though things are really coming together for Derby’s maintenance department, and we at Fleet Maintenance are glad to have helped. “We have a ‘bank’ now of job applicants,” Derby said happily. “Now we have a lot to choose from.”

For some fleets, at least, technician candidates aren’t in such short supply. Derby has found quite a few technicians who meet his requirements for work experience and commitment to the job, at least one of whom appears to be willing to travel 2,000 miles to find a new position. Maybe there is a ray of hope out there after all for the other fleets searching for talented technicians to fill job openings.

Now, if we could only help Derby with his new problem: he’s looking to buy a few used trucks—2002 or 2003 Peterbilt 385s at around $40,000—to put in the fleet as spares. Anybody selling? Contact me at, and we’ll talk.