Rusty Rush (left) and Nascar driver Clint Bowyer (right) congratulate Steven Brain, a technician with the Rush Truck Centers Dallas Dealership, on being named the 2018 Rush Technician Rodeo Grand Champion. 
 - Photo: Jack Roberts

Rusty Rush (left) and Nascar driver Clint Bowyer (right) congratulate Steven Brain, a technician with the Rush Truck Centers Dallas Dealership, on being named the 2018 Rush Technician Rodeo Grand Champion. 

Photo: Jack Roberts

Rush Truck Centers’ annual Technician Rodeo continues to grow in both scope and attendance, further cementing its status as one of trucking premier events that celebrates and promotes the importance of trained diesel technicians in the industry today.

Held once again on Rush’s home turf at the Henry Gonzalez Convention Center in downtown San Antonio, Texas, the country’s largest dealership network spent more than $1.2 million on this year’s event. Much of that money was put up by a host of trucking industry sponsors, who display their technologies and products at a concurrent exhibition hall. Unlike many trucking industry

New this year are a host of truck sales categories based on Class 4 through 8 Ford, Isuzu, Hino, International and Peterbilt models. Rush truck sales professionals were invited to submit a video of their walk-around sales presentation for a specific Class and truck model. Rush Truck executives judged the videos and invited 21 sales representatives from around the country to San Antonio to compete for the grand prize in each category.

Company CEO Rusty Rush was in his element as Master of Ceremonies, following an emotional tribute to his father, Rush Trucks Center founder Marvin Rush, who passed away in May of this year. “Looking around the room tonight, I see a lot of new faces,” Rush told more almost 2,000 attendees at the awards banquet at the San Antonio Grand Hyatt Hotel.

“We’ve added more than 100 new technicians in the past year — because we’re growing,” Rush added. “And this year we’ve added a Truck Sales category to the competition. And that’s cool! Because people in this company were getting jealous of the technicians and this contest. Because everybody wants to be part of something. They work hard and they want to be recognized for it. And that tells me this event is doing what it’s supposed to do. This is a really special night for our company. Because this is all about you.”

As special as the night is, Rush was quick to note that in the end, there can only be one Grand Champion. And this year the winner was Steven Brain, a Hino specialist at Rush Truck Center’s Dallas dealership. Brain is a medium duty specialist with particular skills in both vehicle electronics and Hino electrical systems.

This wasn’t Brain’s first rodeo, either. He’s competed six previous times in the Technician Rodeo, and placed several times in various medium duty categories. Still, tonight’s Grand Championship win caught him by surprise. “The test changes every year. And it was tough,” he said. “I felt like I was doing OK. But even then, in my final event, it literally came to down the last 30 seconds on the timer before found the bug and solved the problem. I knew I’d done well on the Hino portions of the test. And I felt like I’d done well on the Peterbilt and International tests. But I had no idea I’d done this well. So I’m very happy.”

Holding just a few of his prizes, a stunned Steven Brain prepares to talk to the media after being named the 2018 Rush Technician Rodeo Grand Champion - Photo: Jack Roberts

Holding just a few of his prizes, a stunned Steven Brain prepares to talk to the media after being named the 2018 Rush Technician Rodeo Grand Champion

Photo: Jack Roberts

Brain said that Hino has always been his “bread and butter,” when it comes to competing in the Technician Rodeo, adding that even though he has not taken the top prize in the past, he has gained valuable experience at each past event, which eventually led to his win this year. “I’m very fortunate in that what I do for a living comes very naturally to me. It’s a God-given gift,” he said.

Part of that gift came from his father, Brain said, who was an electrical engineer who taught him a process-oriented approach to troubleshooting electronic issues. “My father was a very intelligent man who taught me a lot,” Brain said. “And as you all know, trucks are electronic today. There are a huge amount of electronics systems on trucks today — particularly in the dash. And the things my father taught me help a lot. I’m a Master Certified Hino Electronics Technician, trained on their hybrid drive systems. And I think this is the wave of the future. I’m anticipating a day when we’ll be working on fully electric trucks.”

Brain said he has worked at various dealers over his career before finally landing at Rush a decade ago. And he says it’s a good fit. “I'm currently in a mentor position at Rush,” he said. “I work with both new hires and experienced technicians. But I tell all of them that if they work hard and apply themselves, then at this company, they can be at the top of their field one day.”

He has a similar message for young people considering a career as a diesel technician as well. “I tell young people all the time that this is a career that is in high demand today,” Brain said. “And again, if they apply themselves, you can do well at it and make a very good living — which I do.”

In his spare time, Brain said he likes to restore old lawn mowers and antique International Farmall tractors. “I remember being a small child and working under cars with my father,” he noted. “He passed away several years go. But I feel that a lot of the credit for this win tonight goes to him. And I feel he’d be very proud of me and everything that I’ve been able to accomplish at Rush Truck Centers.”

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