July 2014

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62 | www.cedmag.com | Construction Equipment Distribution | July 2014 Best Practices generate positive word of mouth. Three recruiters work 16 local districts in Northeast Kansas to identify candidates. Coco also changed the program name from Diesel Technol- ogy to Heavy Diesel Construction, a term used by industry that is more marketable and descriptive. Working with Washburn made Esterly realize where the industry had shortcomings. "We as dealers need to get out and see these kids and talk to counselors in ninth and 10th grade, and give them a better understanding of our industry," he said. "Partnering with Washburn will help us do that." Washburn has made a commitment to removing barriers to technical education and helping students succeed. For example, to avoid losing potential candidates because of the upfront investment needed in tools, the school purchased $300,000 in tools from Snap-On. Four students are assigned to each toolbox. High school students entering the program can also save money because the state will pay the tuition for high school students in technical training programs. In addition, Washburn students also graduate with an OSHA card, as well as NC3 certifications in torque, diagnostics and metering. Something Worth Bragging About Coco doesn't hesitate to promote the advantages of becoming a diesel techni- cian. He says Washburn Tech offers a hands-on, high-tech, life-changing opportunity. "I say, 'Pick a place where you want to live. You can get a diesel job. You can pick and choose if you are a good worker and drug free. Yes it's dirty, sweaty and hot, but you are going to make a lot of money and love your work. Six figures if you are really good.'" While it's still early in the program, Esterly is already excited about the opportunity to partner with Washburn Tech. "To see these students, the excite- ment level of starting their first year, the smiles on their faces. They were so excited to have this modern technology. It was a real pleasure to be part of it," he said. VLP will continue to be involved with students enrolled in the program as it moves forward. While a high income is certainly a positive for recruiting technicians, it also makes it a challenge to find instructors. Consider that an instruc- tor, who typically earns $45,000 per year, can earn twice or three times that working the field. The Case Technician Training Program While Victor L. Phillips is a key investor in Washburn Tech, the program has been designed to benefit all North American dealers who need techni- cians. Midwest Case Construction and Case IH dealers were invited to the school's open house. "My goal with this program was not just to find techni- cians for VLP but to supply the industry with technicians," said Esterly. He believes their company could poten- tially hire seven technicians from the program graduates. But among Case Construction, New Holland, and Case IH, there are more than 3,000 dealers who offer employment potential in North America. Case plans to set up three regional diesel technology schools – Washburn in the Midwest; Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science & Technology in the East (partnering with Groff Tractor); and a yet-to-be-named school on the West Coast partnering with Sonsray Equipment. According to Ruffalo, the plan is for each program to graduate between 16 and 32 technicians per year for a total of 48 to 96 qualified techs entering the workforce annually. An annual Career Day at each school will provide an opportunity for other dealers to recruit technicians for opportunities within their respective dealerships. While Case has supported technical schools in the past, they had never before invested this heavily in techni- cal education. With a deeper level of involvement, Case will have much greater input to ensure the technicians learn the required skills and be able to provide dealerships with assess- ments based on their own standards. By reviewing assessments, they can identify and address any gaps in what students are learning. Instructors will all go through Case factory training during the summer. The investment is significant, but one that Case recognizes it must make to keep a high standard of customer service among its dealer network, and to help provide the industry with the technicians it needs. But equally important are the simple things that Washburn has done to attract interested students. There is a lot to be learned from this tech savvy partnership. ("The Power Of Being Wanted" continued from page 45) National Signing Day for Technical Education On Feb. 20, 2014, Washburn Tech held the first ever signing day for technical educa- tion. More than 600 students have signed letters of intent to attend the school. According to Clark Coco, dean of Washburn Institute of Technology, the signing brings dignity to the student's choice and the decision to earn a technical education.

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