Maintenance

TMC Chairman Takes Aim at Technician Shortage

March 04, 2016

By Deborah Lockridge

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Doug White, 2016-2017 TMC chairman. Photo: Deborah Lockridge
Doug White, 2016-2017 TMC chairman. Photo: Deborah Lockridge

While the technician shortage can’t be fixed tomorrow, Doug White believes it’s time for trucking to up its game when it comes to long-term solutions.

Doug White, vice president of maintenance of Dunbar Armored, Hunt Valley, Md., has been elected the 2016-2017 general chairman and treasurer of the American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council. We sat down with him at TMC’s annual meeting to talk about his priorities for the coming year — and number one is tackling the technician shortage.

“We need to get out to grammar schools and begin to have conversations with the kids — and their parents — about the opportunities in the trades,” he said, including medium and heavy truck technician as well as careers such as electrician or plumber.

“In some cases, I think we’re doing our kids an injustice,” he said, with the constant drumbeat of college, college, college. “There are so many great opportunities we’re not telling them about.”

When the economy winds down, he pointed out, companies will likely cut middle-management positions, “but we always will need our car fixed, our truck fixed, the plumbing in our house fixed.”

These are good-paying careers, he said, and with wage wars going on between companies trying to attract experienced techs, “I believe in our lifetime we will see the $100,000 a year technician.”

In a standing-room-only panel discussion earlier in the week, George Arrants of WheelTime told the audience that “If you’re not involved with your local schools, you’re part of the problem.”

When asked if he agreed with that, White said Arrants was “right on target.

“There’s a lot of us that need to look in the mirror” on that account, he said, “myself included.”

“The day’s going to come when you take your car into a dealer and you get a call a week later letting you know you’re next in line.”

Just as important as reaching out to students and parents, he said, is educating teachers and guidance counselors.

To that end, White’s mission for his one-year term will be searching out associations of teachers, guidance counselors and other educators and getting himself invited to speak to groups of these people who are so influential in a young person’s career choice.

“It’s not going to just affect us,” he said. “The day’s going to come when you take your car into a dealer and you get a call a week later letting you know you’re next in line.”

White’s other message he wants to get out there this year is about the benefits of TMC membership.

“TMC is the best kept secret in the trucking industry,” he said, “and we’ve got to change that. Look at the number of fleets here compared to the number of fleets in the country.

"It’s a great organization; the best education you can get," he said. "The best money a company can spend. Some people say it’s expensive — but so is not knowing what you need to know.”

Comments

  1. 1. Terry [ March 07, 2016 @ 04:44AM ]

    I have been in this Industry since 1972 then a Union Tech was making pretty good Money, now with the Pay Scale being way too low and Prices of Tools and Education and then your cost of Living 100,000 a year isn't going to go very far

  2. 2. Richard LeFrancois [ March 07, 2016 @ 05:34AM ]

    The trucking industry is its own worst enemy. Not only are we faced with a technician shortage but think about the driver shortage problem as well.

    I have been reading Transport Topics since the late 1970's and all the industry has done since then is pay lip service to the driver shortage problem all these years.

    After all, what other industry (minus perhaps the Fast Food Industry) would put up with a annual employee turnover rate of 136% as the trucking industry has experienced in past years?

    Pathetic....if the "Suits" in the industry were made to make a living driving a truck or fixing a truck before they managed a trucking company perhaps we may not have the problems we confront today regarding technicians and drivers..

    After all, without a driver and mechanic (technician) what does a "Suit" have to do?

  3. 3. Gary Burr [ March 07, 2016 @ 07:36AM ]

    Articles such as this support the need for early training programs for students. Our response to this was, thanks very much to an interested Mayor and a nearby High School, to create a program we call Learning with a Wrench. This is an internship where students are in our mechanic shop everyday and are introduced to our industry. We are nearing the end of our 2nd year and the program continues to grow. I believe the interest is out there. I believe there are a great deal of students who are looking for a direction. The program offers that and more. I wonder what would happen if other groups could do the same thing? You don't know until you try. We tried, it has been a rewarding and fulfilling experience for me, after all, I get to teach them.

  4. 4. Bruce Cansler [ March 07, 2016 @ 06:34PM ]

    Drivers and technicians are the backbone of these companies. Management should be forced to buy their own computers, desks and chairs like techs have to purchase their own tools. Thank you to all drivers and technicans for your hard work and dedication!

 

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