Wrapping Up a Season of Tech Competition Semi-Finals

Every fall the Technology and Maintenance Council hosts a National Technician Skills Competition—TMC SuperTech—to test the skills of professional commercial vehicle technicians. However, a lot of hard work goes into smaller, qualifying rounds before a technician ever makes it to the SuperTech event.

Qualifying rounds (sometimes referred to as “feeder competitions”) are held by fleets for their own technicians, state trucking organizations, or other interested parties.

For example, a fleet might send out a written test to each of their locations for the technicians that wish to participate. The top scorers would go to a regional competition (which may include a hands-on element in addition to the written test), after which the top three scorers could go to an in-house national competition. The winners of the in-house national competition would then go to TMC to compete for the title of National Top Tech.

These competitions serve multiple purposes. Not only are they a fun, interactive way to recognize technicians and all the work they do, but they also provide advantages for technician and fleet alike.

“Tech competitions are a great way to recognize technicians as a whole. We always make sure we recognize drivers—for example, with driver appreciation week—but we don’t always remember the technicians,” says Larry Rambeaux, the Purkeys sales manager and long-time competition station host.

Technicians that win even a small competition can get various prizes, such as TVs, trips/vacation packages, tools, tool boxes, bulk bins, drawers, cash, or other prizes. Not to mention the BIG bragging rights that come with winning the Top Tech title!

“It also gives fleets a chance to evaluate how their shops are doing and see what additional training they need to provide to help their techs be better,” continues Rambeaux. “Through the testing, the fleet can see where the strong areas are, as well as the weak ones.”

During any given competition, there are various stations for testing numerous areas of the truck such as: heating/ventilation, safety, tires, brakes, cranking/starting, drilling/tapping holes for fasteners, engine, or electrical.

Purkeys has been running an electrical testing station at feeder competitions and TMC Supertech for around 15 years. When we asked the Purkeys team what they do during a competition, they came to the general agreement that the procedure in a nutshell is, “5 minutes of panic, 20 minutes of sitting on your butt, rinse and repeat.”

While working at one of the stations, the test administrators don’t interact with any of the contestants during the test period. This prevents anyone from having an unfair advantage. Instead, they spend most of their time grading tests and making sure everything is running properly.

Despite the occasionally boring task of grading tests, the Purkeys team had only good things to say about the competitions they’ve attended.

“Being part of the competitions is a way for us to give back to the industry and reinvest,” said Hall Fess, another Purkeys sales rep. “It’s a great way to celebrate the technicians. It gives them the opportunity to show off their skills and get a bit of glory. That’s my favorite part.”

Jimmy Fielding, also a Purkeys sales rep, added, “It’s a great feeling to see the technicians work and get to know them a bit. They see us there and know that we’re there because we want to help the industry and give back.”