Doug Nickles Crowned TMCSuperTech Grand Champion

Technician Was Part of a FedEx Freight Sweep
David Kegley, Doug Nickles, Randy Patterson, Todd Cotier
Doug Nickles of FedEx Freight (second from left) celebrates with (from left) Technician and Educator Committee Chairman David Kegley, TMCSuperTech Competition Chairman Randy Patterson and TMC Chairman Todd Cotier. (American Trucking Associations)

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CLEVELAND — Doug Nickles from FedEx Freight earned his first TMCSuperTech grand champion honor at American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council’s National Technicians Skills Competition on Sept. 19.

Nickles, who hails from East Moline, Ill., was part of a sweep as fellow FedEx Freight technicians Wesley Salley and 2019 TMCSuperTech Grand Champion Kelby Bentley placed second and third, respectively. Nickles and Bentley also won the team title at this year’s competition.

“This is awesome! Purple up top,” exclaimed Nickles about the sweep and top honors, acknowledging the carriers’ colors.

Competing in TMCSuperTech since 2013, Nickles is not a stranger to the podium. He placed third overall last year, and finished second in 2017 and 2019. As for finally gaining the grand champion spot this year, Nickles joked that he “ate his Wheaties” to help break through. He also made sure to thank his FedEx Freight team for their support.

Randy Patterson

 "Those newer categories reflect the importance of keeping the maintenance industry ahead of the curve as service needs evolve," said Patterson. (Blake Franko/ American Trucking Associations)

“We push each other to work on our weaknesses,” Nickles said, adding that his team focused heavily on the competition once they arrived in Cleveland. “If we had a bad station or didn’t understand something, we pushed each other to get better.”

Nickles, who attended Universal Technical Institute in Glendale Heights, Ill., said he felt good about his performance throughout the competition. He acknowledged that the addition of a new exam category for electric vehicle safety during the first day proved to be the most challenging.

“I don’t work on them personally, but I’m sure we’ll get more information as they get more popular,” he said of the EV category. “When you get in to the station, you’re looking for manuals, then answering the questions as best as possible.”

Afterward, Nickles said he and the rest of the FedEx Freight team put their heads down and prepared for Day 2 competition.

“We studied, and my teammates found some good information,” he said. “We were trying to get those extra two or three points.”

Asked if he would defend his grand championship in next year’s TMCSuperTech in Raleigh, N.C., Nickles quipped, “Got to repeat! Michael Jordan didn’t quit after one, did he?”

Nickles also took top spots in three station categories in the heavy-duty (traditional) track, while Salley, from Round Rock, Texas, and Bentley took one each. Jamie Smith, also with FedEx Freight, won two stations in the heavy-duty track. FedEx Corp. ranks No. 2 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America,

“Winning TMCSuperTech is a tremendous achievement and clearly demonstrates Doug’s dedication to service and professionalism,” said TMC Executive Director Robert Braswell. “As always, this competition brings out the best in our industry and Doug, and the rest of his FedEx Freight teammates, rose to the occasion, providing real examples of the knowledge and skills needed to keep this industry moving. On behalf of ATA and TMC, I want to congratulate Doug, and thank all our competitors who make this such a special event.”

Also during the award ceremony, Timothy Rose, a student at Ferris State University, won the TMCFutureTech National Student Technician Skills Competition, with fellow Bulldog Maxwell Chatman finishing second and Northwest Technical Institute student Joshua Waldrep placing third.

In the TMCSuperTech light and medium vehicle track competition, FedEx Freight’s Philip Barlow repeated as champion, with Zachary Nikorak and Alan Snyder, both of Cox Automotive Mobility, finishing second and third respectively. All three technicians dominated the category with Barlow and Nikorak each grabbing five station awards, and Snyder winning three.

FedEx Freight continued its dominance in the competition with Cory Westfall repeating as champion of the TMCSuperTech trailer track competition, with Michael Kerfoot Jr., of Cox Automotive placing second for a second straight year and Issac Perez of FedEx Freight placing third. Westfall grabbed six station honors, while Kerfoot Jr. earned three.

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