David Bryan Lewis of Wal-Mart Transportation in Sutherland, Va., successfully defended his 2007 title as the nation's top heavy truck technician as he was again named grand champion of TMC SuperTech 2008
during the Technology & Maintenance Council's 2008 Fall Meeting, held in Nashville Sept. 15-18.

Scott Bennett, Tacoma, Wash., and Michael Bogard, Neenah, Wis., - both with Ryder System - placed second and third in the competition conducted by TMC's Professional Technician Development Committee. Bogard had received the top score on the written portion of the competition the three previous years.

With six other contestants from Wal-Mart competing, a number of Wal-Mart supervisors and observers, and a room full of well-wishers, Lewis had plenty of supporters to cheer him on as he took the stage to receive his grand champion award. The award package included a Nexiq Technologies' Snap-On Elite Series tool chest valued at approximately $10,000, an all-expense trip for two to the Daytona 500, and a custom-made championship leather jacket.

Lewis, 45, of Amelia Court House, Va., said that although he had studied hard for the competition, it was much more challenging this year. "The most difficult part was the drivetrain station," he said. "We had looked at the Eaton AutoShift transmission, but I just hadn't put hands on that item. Until you use the software, it kind of scares you - and when George (Arrants) hollers 'five minutes!' it really puts the icing on the cake." Arrants is the competition's chairman and official timekeeper for the event.

He said the HVAC and the engine skills stations were also a real challenge. "It seems like all the new stuff that is coming out, the manufacturers are putting into new components," Lewis said. "The engine station was difficult, too. It had the new (Detroit Diesel) DD-15 engine and I hadn't really worked on it." Although those two stations were tough for him, he kept his calm and found his way through them using the available component manuals. "The book was laying there; you panic a little bit and then you think to pick up the book," he said.

Lewis works 12-hour shifts at Wal-Mart's maintenance facility south of Washington, D.C. His grand champion title is something he likes to share with his shop mates and his friends at Southside Community College, Ft. Pickett, Va., where he graduated in May. His degree with 116 credit hours came after numerous years of night classes. It now provides him with a diesel technical full certificate and automotive full certificate credentials.

He said he hopes to take more courses toward a bachelor degree, especially courses in human resources that would help him to be able to work in the training area.

The remainder of the top 10 scoring contestants include: (4) Daniel Myers, Roberts Truck Center, Albuquerque; (5) Randy Qualls, Wal-Mart Transportation, Waterloo, S.C.; (6) Timothy Peters, Ryder Systems, Newton, N.C.; (7) Christopher Barnett, Ryder System, Alpharetta, Ga.; (8) Bailey Johnson, McKee Foods, Stuarts Draft, Va.; (9) Thomas Pianalto, Diamond International Trucks, Lowelll, Ark; and (10) Christopher Tate, Mohawk Truck, West Seneca, N.Y.

Skills station winners this year include the following:
• Steering & Suspension - Christopher Barnett, Ryder System, Alpharetta, Ga.;
• Fastener & Fastener Repair - Norbert Estrada, TravelCenters of America, Gary, Ind.;
• Starting & Charging - Dave Thrower, FedEx National LTL, Middletown, Pa.;
• Drivetrain - Michael Bogard, Ryder System, Neenah, Wis.;
• PMI - Richard Fasoli, Con-Way Freight, Southampton, Mass;
• Brakes - Norbert Estrada, TravelCenters of America, Gary, Ind;
• Electrical - Ken Myers - New York State Motor Truck Assn., Victor, N.Y.;
• HVAC - Thomas Pianalto - Diamond International Trucks, Lowelll, Ark;
• Safety & Environmental - Doug Skelly, First Vehicle Services, Pittsburgh, Pa.;
• Service Information - Kevin Schwarzbauer, Carolina International Trucks, Columbia, S.C.;
• Repair Order Generation - David Lewis, Wal-Mart Transportation, Amelia Court House, Va.;
• Wheel End - Christopher Tate, Mohawk Truck, West Seneca, N.Y.;
• Tire & Wheel - Eric Vos, FedEx Freight, Boise, Idaho; and
• Engines - Phillip Mellor, Swift Transportation, Albuquerque, N.M.

Gary Fassett, International Truck & Engine Corp., Murtaugh, Idaho, earned the top score on the written test.

TMC, a technical council of American Trucking Associations, developed the national SuperTech competition as a way to recognize truck technicians and promote the career opportunities for heavy truck technicians. The competition is meant to showcase the skill and knowledge of trucking industry technicians, and to increase the visibility of career opportunities available for truck technicians.

This year, organizers increased the number of hands-on skills stations from 12 to 14 - adding fasteners, and safety & environmental stations - and increased the number of competitors in the all-day Hands-On Skill Challenge from 84 to 96. This year, 121 technicians representing 40 companies took the written test to qualify for those 96 hands-on competition slots.

Next year's competition, TMC SuperTech2009, will be held during TMC's 2009 Fall Meeting, Sept. 14-17, in Raleigh, N.C.