Each One Teach One
Interns can bring value to your dealership.
By Denise L. Rondini, Executive Editor
Talk to almost anyone in the trucking industry and you will hear the same thing: There are not enough young people interested in careers in this industry. However, complaining about is not going to solve the problem.
And while it is a small step, Dick Sweebe, president and CEO of the Diamond Companies, decided to do something about it.
After reading a column in the November 2011 issue of Truck Parts & Service magazine (sister publication to Successful Dealer), on Northwood University’s Aftermarket Management program and its requirement that students complete an internship as part of their curriculum, Sweebe contacted the school to get things started.
“We are always trying to find new talent,” Sweebe says. “I know a lot of dealers who have sent their kids to Northwood so I thought this might be a way for us to develop a link to an institution of higher learning where we might get some talent going forward.”
In addition, Sweebe says the dealership is celebrating its 30th anniversary and he felt a responsibility “to give back some of the things we have received. I felt it was our corporate responsibility to support the program even though most of the students thought they wanted careers in the auto business.”
Pat Crase, human resources manager at the Diamond Companies, worked closely with Northwood and received a list of three potential candidates. “Pat started speaking with them and ended up interviewing two of them after learning that one had already accepted a job in Florida,” Sweebe says.
From the remaining candidates, Crase recommended that Diamond offer Marquis Ragland, a junior at Northwood, an internship at the dealership’s Memphis location.
Sweebe wanted to make sure the internship had some structure to it, so he suggested that Ragland submit a report each week with his observations and comments.
Ricky Hall, parts manager at the Memphis location, was given the responsibility of supervising Ragland. “I felt we really needed to give Marquis an idea of the scope of our business and how we do things.” This meant that Ragland started off like every other Diamond Companies employee — as a delivery driver. “Everyone starts as delivery driver and then we bring them into shipping and receiving, followed by front counter sales and then possible outside sales,” Hall says.
“He started out riding with the delivery drivers to get a sense of what they do and to learn about the importance of delivery drivers to a dealership,” Hall says, “They are the guys who see our customers more than anybody else.” Then he progressed through other areas of the dealership.