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RALEIGH, N.C. — FedEx Freight technician Kelby Bentley earned the title of 2019 TMCSuperTech Grand Champion during the fall meeting of American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council here.
“It’s a tough competition, no matter how hard you study,” Bentley, 25, told Transport Topics after the awards banquet Sept. 17. He took a moment to thank his wife, Ashley, for enduring the times he had to disappear to study.
Bentley has been a truck technician for seven years and with FedEx Freight for five years. He is ranked as a shop technician, Level 1.
From Greensboro, N.C., Bentley has participated in four straight competitions. He was cheered on by a large contingent of FedEx Freight employees, some of whom suspected early on that Bentley was a strong contender.
Cox by Jim Stinson/Transport Topics
Travis Cox, who just finished earning a diesel tech certificate at Lincoln Technical Institute, won the TMCFutureTech National Student Technician Competition. TMCFutureTech is sponsored by the TechForce Foundation.
“I was approached by FedEx Freight to study with a lot of the senior techs,” said Cox, who now works for FedEx Corp. full time. Cox is from Uncasville, Conn.
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The 15th National Technician Skills Competitions took place at the Raleigh Convention Center. The competitions test participants with qualifying written exams and a series of hands-on demonstrations, as test administrators look on.
Bentley won the top prize in a field of 87 technicians competing in the final rounds of the Heavy-Duty Track contest.
Joseph Paul of FedEx Freight placed first in the Trailer Track. Aaron Burdick of Clarke Power Services Inc. placed first in the Light and Medium Track.
The event was abuzz with the competition, the new challenge of high-tech motors and green technology. The industry also faces a challenge in recruiting technicians.
“I don’t know if you have heard this, but there’s a shortage out there,” TechForce Foundation CEO Jennifer Maher said of the industry’s need for more repair techs.
Maher told the audience that the industry needs to communicate with young prospects that four-year colleges often prepare them for careers that do not exist. Trucking tech offers good career prospects, she said.
The FedEx Freight team of Larry Coatney and Bentley placed first among companies designating as teams for the competition. The Memphis, Tenn.-based company continued its dominance of the TMC SuperTech Team competition, claiming its seventh consecutive title.
FedEx Freight technicians swept the top five places in the competition and claimed eight of the top 20 spots in the heavy-duty competition.
Randy Patterson, TMC competition chairman, said Christopher Tate, of Mohawk Truck Inc., had competed in every one of the 15 annual contests.
“On behalf of TMC, I’m thrilled to congratulate Kelby Bentley on achieving top honors at this year’s competition, earning the title TMCSuperTech Grand Champion,” TMC Executive Director Robert Braswell said. “This competition features the most skilled and knowledgeable truck technicians the industry has to offer, and this award is a testament to Kelby’s professional talent and a distinguished milestone in his career.”
Heavy-Duty Track Top 10 Finishers
1. Kelby Bentley, FedEx Freight
2. Doug Nickles, FedEx Freight
3. Richard Davis, NationaLease
4. Michael Gavrielides, TravelCenters of America
5. Philip Barlow, FedEx Freight
6. Larry Coatney, FedEx Freight
7. Adam Martin, W.W. Williams
8. Matthew Sloan, FedEx Freight
9. Christopher Tate, Mohawk Truck Inc.
10. Kyle Ballard, Clarke Power Services Inc.