Shortage of technicians doesn’t mean shortage of talent

Jason Cannon

December 16, 2013

Jordan Camp, of Rush Truck Center – Charlotte, troubleshoots an electrical problem on an Isuzu unit.
Jordan Camp, of Rush Truck Center – Charlotte, troubleshoots an electrical problem on an Isuzu unit.

You’ve probably heard this before: There’s a shortage of diesel technicians.

While I understand that is somewhat true industry-wide, I’ve spent the past several days elbow-to-elbow with 100 of the most talented technicians in the U.S.

Rush Truck Center technicians from across the U.S. descended on South Texas this week with hopes of winning cash, prizes, pay raises, belt buckles and bragging rights.

These 100 technicians are among the best in their fields, having already beaten out roughly 1,900 of their peers for the opportunity to make the trip to South Texas.

And while most of the contestants strode into the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in downtown San Antonio with hopes of scoring some Christmas cash, Wesley Huddleson, from Rush Truck Center – Columbus (Ohio) -West, says there is no shortage of things you can take from the Rodeo if you don’t take home a check.

“It’s definitely a good training opportunity,” he says. “To be able to talk with (OEM representatives) and to get more of a corporation feel for it. Networking, too. To be able to talk to different bosses and realize that it’s not just our shop having potential problems or good days and bad days. Everybody shares in that.”

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I spent much of Monday walking the competition floor and speaking with the contestants as they finished their challenges. Some had been with the company for as few as 15 months. Most had been with the company for much longer.

Rush faces the same challenges as other dealerships when they look to make additional hires. Good and qualified employees can be hard to find. But when you do find them, a rodeo – which is an opportunity for them to earn extra money based solely on what they know how to do – is enticing. The training, networking and education available at the rodeo is invaluable, and I didn’t speak to one technician at the event that didn’t recognize the time contestants got with OEMs was nearly as valuable as the grand prize.

I don’t care if you’re fixing heavy trucks or hamburgers, the key to finding and keeping good employees is the same: hire good people who want to be successful and help them reach their goal.

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