If you know anything about Rush Truck Centers, it is likely the fact that North America’s largest truck dealer is obsessed with finding and keeping the best technicians possible. This commitment starts at the top with CEO Rusty Rush, and permeates throughout the dealership’s national network, culminating in a splashy, all-out annual Technician Rodeo every December that awards a stunning array of cash and prizes to winners in a host of categories.
The annual rodeo is still a month away, but with Nascar’s Texas 500 race slated for the Texas Motor Speedway in early November, Rusty Rush decided to leverage his longstanding partnership with the Stewart-Hass Racing Team, and invited No. 14 car driver Clint Bowyer and his pit crew to Rush’s Dallas dealership to have a little fun and help recruit a new generation of technicians. And HDT was there for an exclusive look at the fun.
Rush extended a special invitation to 10 select students and their instructor from the Peterbilt Technician Institute at Universal Technical Institute, along with other Rush customers and business partners in the area for an open house at its Dallas facility for a day of fun and food, topped off by a little friendly technician competition. Rush also flew five of its past Technician Rodeo Grand Champions in from all over the country.
Justin Euler, St. Peters, Missouri; Travis Graham, Orlando, Florida; Frank Lake, Dallas, Texas; Erick Lincoln, Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Jason Swann, Dallas, found themselves teamed up with Stewart-Hass Racing’s Number 14 pit crew (Matt Holzbauer, Ira Jo Hussey, James Keener, Shannon Myers and Erinie Pierce) for three quick technician challenges: an oil change, a tire rotation, and a “secret bug” electronics problem.
With students, customers and other onlookers cheering them on, the two five-man teams scrambled over two Peterbilt Model 579 tractors in a neck-and-neck race to take top technician honors for the day.
Rush organizers scheduled a half hour for the technician event. But the skill and the speed of both the No. 14 pit crew and the Rush technicians was such that it was over in nine minutes, with the Red team declared the winner — a decision that was good-naturedly, yet vigorously, disputed by the opposing White Team.
“We are in a relationship business,” Rusty Rush said after the event. “That includes our sales representatives, our relationship with Stewart-Hass racing, and with our technicians. We have a 14-year relationship with Stewart-Hass Racing that began with Tony Stewart and has grown stronger now with Clint behind the wheel. And Nascar and trucking have so many things in common in terms of jobs and technology, that an event like this is just a natural fit and a great way to show these young students that being a diesel technician is a great career choice with a lot of personal and professional rewards.”
The event was sponsored by another longtime Rush partner, Mobil Delvac Lubricants. Cassandra Clarke, Mobil Delvac’s commercial offer advisor for on-highway vehicles, said the event was a great way to shine a light on the national technician shortage.
“Sponsoring this event with Rush Truck Centers was a natural fit for us, because it’s in all our best interest to increase awareness of how important trucking is to our economy and the urgent need to attract the younger generation to this industry,” Clarke said. "Everything we use in every day life is moved by a truck at one point or another. And this is not your grandfather’s trucking industry any more. Rush dealerships show the new face of being a diesel technician, with modern, temperature-controlled facilities and cutting-edge computing technology that demands far more skills than turning a wrench.”
It’s a sentiment shared by the No. 14 car driver, Clint Bowyer. “My dad owned a tow truck company, so I grew up around both truckers and technicians and have always been comfortable in that environment,” he told HDT. “Moreover, trucking is so important for the success of our racing team. Every aspect of what we do week in and week out during racing season depends on our professional drivers. And those trucks depend on Rush technicians to keep moving. Without those trucks — and Rush technicians — we’d be dead in the water.”
Building on the success of its competition with the Stewart-Hass No. pit crew, Rush Truck Centers is now building up for its annual Technician Rodeo, which will be held Dec. 9-12 in San Antonio, Texas.