TMC honors seven with Silver Spark Plug Award

American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council awarded its highest honor — the Silver Spark Plug Award — to seven trucking industry professionals during the Council's 2014 Annual Meeting, March 10-13, in Nashville, Tenn.

The 2014 TMC Silver Spark Plug recipients are: Jim Clark, recently retired as director of engineering for TMD Friction, Troy, Mich.; Lilo Hurtado, applications engineer for ExxonMobil, Bolingbrook, Ill.; Bob Jeffries, sales manager for Remy Inc., Arlington, Texas; Mark Louzon, engine product development manager for Volvo Powertrain North America, Hagerstown, Md.; Vic Meloche, manager of technical sales for Detroit Diesel, Detroit; Don Raitzer, engineer for Stemco Brake Products Group, Livonia, Mich.; and Dan Umphress, vice president of maintenance and fleet services for A&R Transport, Morris, Ill.

"These recipients were awarded the Silver Spark Plug for their outstanding contributions to the improvement of equipment, maintenance, industry-related technology and management practices," said Carl Kirk, ATA vice president of maintenance, information technology and logistics. "Through leadership and technical achievement, these individuals have all brought about significant improvements for the commercial vehicle industry."

Clark, a member since 1985, has been a very active within the S.6 Chassis and Brakes Study Group, having chaired several task forces. In October 2000, he also assisted in the organization of TMC's off-site "ECBS Demonstration" in East Liberty, OH at TMC's 2000 Fall Meeting. He has chaired several task forces, but he is most closely associated with one in particular and its work product — RP 628, "Aftermarket Brake Lining Classification," — was a significant technical achievement for TMC and the industry, providing fleets a sorely needed tool for selecting brake linings in the absence of information on comparing brake lining performance to that of OEM linings. It is said of him, "Jim is noted for looking out for the interests of fleets first, even though he has served as an industry supplier/manufacturer his entire professional career in trucking. He is an unsung hero to fleets everywhere for his tireless dedication and work on the development of RP 628."

Hurtado, a member since 2005, has been active within the S.3 Engines Study Group. He has been a valuable contributor to the S.3 Engines Study Group as its secretary, moderator and presenter for technical presentations, and as an active participant in creation of TMC recommended practices. He participated on behalf of TMC at ATA’s Natural Gas Summit in 2012 and was instrumental in helping to develop TMC’s recommended practice covering biodiesel blended fuels. 

Jeffries, a member since 2007, has been active within the S.1 Electrical Study Group. He has chaired several task forces that led to the creation or updating of TMC recommended practices covering charging, testing and handling of vehicle electrical systems. He has served as a panelist or organizer for mini-tech sessions within the study group and has also been involved with TMC’s National Technician Skills Competition’s Starting and Charging Skills Station and PTDC Training Fair during the past four years.

Louzon, a member since 2004, has been active within the S.3 Engines Study Group, having chaired several task forces, including the EGR Cooler Cleaning and Maintenance, and DPF Cleaning and Maintenance Task Forces.

Meloche, a member since 2007, has been active within the S.3 Engines Study Group, having served as a moderator and/or panelist for several sessions and chaired several task forces that formed new TMC recommended practices, including the Clutch Engagement, Diesel Exhaust Fluid, and Diesel Particulate Filter Task Forces. 

Raitzer, a TMC member since 1985, has been most active in the S.2 Tire & Wheel and S.6 Chassis and Brake Systems Study Groups. Task forces that he has chaired or supported with his technical expertise include: Wheel Hardware Compatibility; Retorquing Requirements to Wheel Fasteners; Guidelines for Valve Stem Hardware; User’s Guide to Wheels and Rims; OSHA Rim Standards Review; and Wheel System Labels Task Force. He most recently chaired the S.6 Outset Wide-Base Wheels Task Force, which led to the development of RP 661 covering considerations for outset wide-base wheels. 

Umphress, a member since 1987 has been closely associated with TMC’s S.3 Engines Study Group, having served as its Chairman from 2008-2010. During his tenure as chairman and vice chairman of S.3, he moderated or served as a panelist on several technical sessions. He is an active member of ATA’s Technical Advisory Group and served as its Chairman in 2008. He was elected to TMC’s board of directors in 2010, and currently serves as TMC’s vice chairman and chairman of meetings and will assume the duties of TMC general chairman and treasurer for 2014-2015.

Since the award's 1968 inception under the Regular Common Carrier Conference Maintenance Committee, 201 individuals have been recognized with the Silver Spark Plug Award. Both fleet representatives and members of the supplier community are eligible.

In order to receive this award, a TMC full or associate member must have demonstrated five years active service in support of TMC leadership and/or activities, earned the respect of his peers, demonstrated clear industry leadership, and contributed new ideas, practices, or innovations in the management and maintenance of commercial motor vehicles for the improvement of equipment, its maintenance and maintenance management.