A group of 112 top-notch technicians from across the country took a written test to winnow the group down to 84. That group spent the next day on the Hands-On Skills Challenge: 12 different skills tests on everything from writing repair orders to working on wheel ends and electrical systems.
The winner was David Lewis of Wal-Mart Transportation; this was his third year in the competition. In second place was James Bowman of the U.S. Postal Service. Third was John Amdor of FedEx Express (who was also the third-place winner last year). All three received trophies and a number of prizes, including a trip to the Daytona 500 for the first- and second-place winners.
The top technician at each skills station was also honored, each receiving a Panasonic Toughbook and other prizes. They were:
- Wheel End: Christopher Barnett, Ryder System
- Electrical: Zelko Marinac, Maverick Transportation
- Suspension/Steering: Rick Grivel, Ryder System
- Starting/Charging: Carl Cockerham, Ryder System
- Drivetrain: Thomas Pianalto, Diamond International Trucks
- Preventive Maintenance Inspection: Dave Flanagan, Wal-Mart Transportation
- Tires & Wheels: Jerry Bodkins, TravelCenters of America
- HVAC: Jimmy Slusher, Ryder System
- Repair Order: Carl Cockerham, Ryder System
- Service Information: John Amdor, FedEx Express
- Engines: Doug Bybee, Ryder System
- Brakes: Richard Zacholl, Swift Transportation
Tops on the written test, for the third year in a row, was Michael Bogard, Ryder System.
Each of the 112 contestants received a laptop computer and a goody bag of free gifts from sponsors.
The number of competitors and skills testing stations has grown each year; The first year, there were 58 registrants, 50 of whom advanced to the skills testing at eight stations. Last year, there were 85 competitors, 72 in the skills testing at 10 testing stations.
Lee Long of Southeastern Freight Lines, head of TMCs Professional Technician Development Committee, which puts on the TMCSuperTech, emphasized the value of the event to all competitors and their companies. During the announcement of the technicians who made it to the hands-on part of the contest, he says, he heard many of those who didn't make it telling their friends, "I'm going to do it next year."
"He's going to go back and study," Long said, and be a better technician for the industry and for the company they work for. "And that's the point of the PTDC."
For more information on TMC and the TMCSuperTech competition, go to www.truckline.com/aboutata/councils/tmc.