to resolve a series of problems and bugs experts had installed on 12 test trucks. Techs were given 45 minutes to find and resolve up to four separate active fault codes, and get the truck ready to leave the shop.
Contestants were scored on process and procedure as well as choice of tools, diagnostic accuracy, and speed. Techs were assigned problems in one of four specialties (not necessarily their own specialties): Cat engines, Cummins engines, Eaton automated transmissions, and medium-duty chassis.
First-round winners went on to the finals, held on Tuesday, where each was faced with another more complex challenge to solve.
In order to qualify for the trip to the finals in Nashville, technicians had to turn in top scores on a 100-to 150-question written exam. More than 700 techs company-wide took the tests, 53 made it to Nashville, and the top three in four categories carted home cash and prizes totaling more than $65,000.
Overall Top-Tech honors went to Jason Swann of the Rush's Dallas heavy-duty shop. Jason also placed second in the Eaton category. He placed first in the 2006 competition as well. Jason started with the dealership in 1999 as a PDI tech, fresh out of technical school. Rush took over the dealership in Dallas in 2005.
"This year's written test was the toughest yet," says Swann, who hails from San Angelo in west Texas. "The practical test wasn't a particularly difficult problem. There were actually several simple problems; the challenge was in finding them."
Swann won 5,000 in cash, an $8,500 Snap-on tool chest, plus $1.25/hr flat rate increase. Second place, winning $2,500 in cash and $1.00 flat rate increase, was Erick Lincoln of Albuquerque. Third place, receiving $1,000 in Snap-on Tools Certificates, $1,000 cash, and $1.00/hr flat-rate increase was Dewayne Jorgensen, Las Cruces, N.M.
Rush Truck Centers began the technician's competition in 2006, with 250 entrants from across the company. In 2007, they saw 500 entries, and this year, more than 700 techs from across the chain took the tests hoping for a chance to compete in the finals in the Music City.
Mike Besson, Rush's service and operations manager, says the competition was first conceived as an employee recognition program, but it has done wonders for employee retention as well as boosting interest in in-house training programs.
"The guys really want to do well in the competition, and they have to write their certifications to qualify to write the exam for the Tech Skills Rodeo," he says. "This program has worked out better than we could have hoped. We should have done it 20 years ago."
Besson estimates the company put over $200,000 into the competition, including contributions from sponsors and suppliers. "That's nothing when you see what we get back in terms of improved morale, interest in training, and better retention," he says.
Top All-Round Technicians
1st : Jason Swann; Dallas, Texas
2nd : Erick Lincoln; Albuquerque, N.M.
3rd : Dewayne Jorgensen, Las Cruces, N.M.
1st: 5,000 cash plus 1.50/hr flat rate increase -- Richard Bennett; Winter Garden, Fla.
2nd: 4,000 cash plus 1.25/hr flat rate increase -- Wayne Bond; Austin, Texas
3rd: 3,000 cash plus 1.00/hr flat rate increase -- Erick Lincoln; Albuquerque, N.M.
1st: 5,000 cash plus 1.50/hr flat rate increase -- James Collins; Fort Worth, Texas
2nd: 4,000 cash plus 1.25/hr flat rate increase -- Chris Zweifel; El Paso, Texas
3rd: 3,000 cash plus 1.00/hr flat rate increase -- Dewayne Jorgenson; Las Cruces, N.M.
Eaton Automated Drivetrain
1st: 5,000 cash plus 1.50/hr flat rate increase -- Dustin Ebert; Phoenix, Ariz.
2nd: 4,000 cash plus 1.25/hr flat rate increase -- Jason Swann; Dallas, Texas
3rd: 3,000 cash plus 1.00/hr flat rate increase -- Steve Roen; Dallas, Texas
1st: 5,000 cash plus 1.50/hr flat rate increase -- Randy Hughes; Texarkana, Texas
2nd: 4,000 cash plus 1.25/hr flat rate increase -- James Glover; Houston, Texas
3rd: 3,000 cash plus 1.00/hr flat rate increase -- Billy Stanley; Houston, Texas
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