Rudd provides technicians with the latest training tools, such as this Volvo Fire Suppression System simulator, one of the only of its kind in the United States.
Ask Rudd Equipment Company Senior Vice President and Product Support’s Bill Maggard why the company invests so much in training technicians that may end up leaving the company and he’ll tell you, “The only thing more expensive than training technicians is not training technicians.”
Rudd Equipment Company’s number one job is providing customer solutions, and Maggard sees skilled technicians as key to achieving that goal. As Rudd Equipment Company’s largest department, in terms of employee numbers, its 175 technicians are testimony to the company’s commitment to providing the highest level of service to its customers
The idea for a training department started more than 10 years ago when Rudd Equipment Company Master Technician Dave Goins won the Volvo Master Cup, a competition for technicians.
In the competition, technicians from Volvo dealers across the United States gather to demonstrate their skills in diagnosing and repairing Volvo machines purposely taken out of commission for the event. After winning the U.S. competition, Goins went on to place first in the international competition held in Sweden.
When Goins won the competition again two years later, Volvo decided to give others a shot at the title and changed the rules to limit individuals to one win.
Prior to developing the Technical Training program, Rudd Equipment Company would send technicians to manufacturer based training programs. Although Maggard found the programs put on by manufacturers like Volvo, Hitachi and Link-Belt to offer excellent training, he noticed that because courses bring in technicians from throughout the United States, Rudd was limited in the amount of technicians they could enroll for any given class.
As it was, it could take a new hire up to three years of training to build a level of proficiency that met Rudd’s standards. Maggard’s goal was to cut that training time in half.
Another factor in the decision to develop a Rudd Training Center was the valuable resource the company had in technicians like Goins and Maggard felt that with a properly designed program, they could transfer those skills to the rest of Rudd’s technicians. An added benefit of the training sessions is that the courses help the team identify each technician’s specific strengths, allowing them to direct those skills to the jobs where they’re best utilized.
For example, a technician displaying a high level of proficiency with cranes may be sent to work when needed away from his home branch on a job based out of another of Rudd’s facilities. Another benefit is that the courses give the technicians an opportunity to get together and share their individual experiences and learn from one another.
Originally, when Maggard proposed moving Goins to a position focused solely on training, he was concerned there might not be enough work to keep him busy. What began in 2004 as a one man training department, however, has grown into a fully staffed Technical Center housed along with the Warranty Department in a dedicated building at Rudd Equipment Company’s headquarters location in Louisville, Ky.
Goins now serves as Technical Center general manager and heads up a team that includes manufacturer certified Technical Trainers Brad Kinser and Steve Meyer, Technical Call Center Specialist Jon Williams and Training Department Administrative Assistant, Vicki Duncan.
The Technical Call Center is a resource for technicians when they encounter situations in the field where additional information or assistance with diagnostics is required. The Training center houses a fully equipped service bay and both the class room and service bay are outfitted with large Hitachi Star Board Interactive touch screens to display schematics and training videos.
In addition to the standard tools of the trade, every technician also is equipped with a laptop computer. With the Technical Training Center, Call Center and Warranty Center under one roof, efforts are more efficiently coordinated between the departments.
Training courses generally consist of three day-long instructions running from Tuesday through Thursday with a half-day session on Friday, allowing technicians travel time to get home. Class sizes average 12 technicians who travel to the Louisville facility from the company’s 13 locations, which are located in Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
The company runs approximately 32 training sessions each year with about 90 percent conducted at the Training Center, however, trainers also travel to branch locations as needed. Typically, the training sessions consist of 75 percent classroom training and 25 percent time with the machine. Technicians also take safety training refresher courses annually.
Goins is in charge of scheduling all of the technicians for their training courses to avoid situations where branch managers may be reluctant to give up their best technicians for a week. Technicians are tested after successful completion of each course to receive accreditation. Rudd Equipment Company ranks technicians on a stepped level starting with apprentice and moving through levels 1, 2 and 3 to master technician as the highest level. The company currently has eight master technicians on staff.
Trainer Brad Kinser said their goal is to give all of their technicians an opportunity to achieve master technician status.With equipment design becoming increasingly complex; higher demands on fuel efficiency, environmental impact, machine automation and performance capabilities being only a few of the factors, the need to stay current is essential. Rudd Equipment Company is determined to invest in the people and resources necessary to stay ahead of the curve and lead the marketplace in customer service, said Maggard.