Recognizing Excellence

Let's face it: equipment maintenance is not a headline-grabber. It is not sexy. It is not usually in the forefront of public attention or corporate consideration'except when mistakes occur and things go wrong. Good maintenance is just like brushing your teeth; it is something you are supposed to do to avoid trouble down the road.

That is why it is both my privilege and honor to lead a new effort within the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) of American Trucking Associations that celebrates the professionalism of our industry's technicians. It is an effort that has many facets, all taking place under the banner of TMC's new Professional Technician Development Committee (PTDC). Much of this activity is going to take place at TMC's 2005 Fall Meeting, September 19-22 in Valley Forge, PA.

Since 2004, TMC has begun offering a special training program for technicians at the Council's fall meetings. This year we are expanding the program into a "Technician Training Fair" that will be held at TMC's 2005 Fall Meeting.

What excites me most about the PTDC is our collective effort to recognize trucking's top technicians. For the first time, we are creating a national contest to showcase just how good our professional technicians are. Other groups have been way ahead of us in this area for years'SkillsUSA for students, some state trucking associations at a regional level, and several progressive fleets at a corporate level, just to name a few. We are building on their success to create something truly special on an industry-wide scale.

TMC's National Technician Skills Competition'TMCSuperTech for short'will debut at the Council's 2005 Fall Meeting, and then be held annually thereafter. TMCSuperTech 2005 will be open to TMC technician members from all 50 states, as well as winners of technician competitions held by various state maintenance councils/trucking associations and fleets themselves. The opening round of competition will be a written test, from which 50 competitors will be selected to move on to the contest's second round of hands-on competition. Our plans call for up to eight different "skill stations," designed to test the contestants' skills in different vehicle systems. Contestants will compete for both national bragging rights and valuable prizes. Full information on how to sign up for TMC SuperTech 2005 will be released this May. Watch for more information from TMC or in upcoming issues of Fleet Maintenance.

I am indeed honored and privileged to be leading this important effort within TMC. However, I am most proud of the groundswell of support that this initiative has gained from industry. Every segment is represented in our volunteer ranks'equipment users, vocational schools, industry associations, vehicle and component suppliers, trade press'the list goes on. So many individuals are donating their time, knowledge, and talent to help make this program a success; I wish I had room here to name them all.

TMC has created a sponsor committee called the "Friends of the Technician." TMC's Friends of the Technician helps fund PTDC's ongoing efforts toward improving the image of truck technicians and attracting new technicians to our industry. PTDC does this by collectively sponsoring scholarship programs, advertising campaigns aimed at students and student guidance counselors, general outreach efforts and other high-visibility programs.

For more information on how to become a Friends of the Technician Sponsor, visit our website at http://tmc.truckline.com or call TMC's Exhibit and Sponsorship Sales Manager David Miller at (703) 838-1927. We will soon be publicly announcing the first Friends of the Technician sponsors, so act fast!

We have a great volunteer team, but there is still room for more! We need judges, contest assistants, and many other folks to help make TMCSuperTech 2005 a success. If you are interested in supporting our effort, feel free to contact me at mww@marten.com, or call TMC at (703) 838-1763.

It is an exciting time for technicians at TMC, and I encourage you to join our team today.

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