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December 22, 2020 11:45 AM, EST

Rush Enterprises Crowns Grand Champion for Virtual Tech Skills Rodeo

Travis Graham Medium-duty technician Travis Graham of Rush Truck Center in Orlando, Fla., captured the all-around grand champion title. (Rush Enterprises)

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Rush Enterprises Inc. presented thousands of dollars in awards to top performers across its service departments during the truck dealership’s annual Tech Skills Rodeo.

The Dec. 15 competition was held virtually for this, its 15th year, because of the coronavirus pandemic. Normally, participants compete on-site by completing hands-on and written challenges to test their mettle in a range of categories including medium-duty trucks, heavy-duty trucks, truck sales, parts and specialty body repair.

The all-around grand prize went to medium-duty technician Travis Graham from Rush Truck Center of Orlando, Fla. He won awards totaling $19,000, including a helmet signed by NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer, whose race team is sponsored by Rush. Graham won a round in the medium-duty category on the way to the top prize.

Jody Pollard, Clint Bowyer and Rusty Rush

Rush Senior Vice President of Operations Jody Pollard (from left), NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer and CEO Rusty Rush. (Rush Enterprises)

Colorado-based heavy-duty technician Alex Haberkorn was the runner-up for the grand prize.

Rush worked around the pandemic challenges and kept contestants separated by holding what would normally be the hands-on portions of the competition using laptops.

Rush Truck Center of Lubbock, Texas, technician Michael Box won the aftermarket sales category, and Colorado-based Chris Klansky triumphed in the parts category.

Haberkorn was named grand champion of the heavy-duty category after coming in second place for the Paccar MX category.

“I felt very good taking all my tests,” Haberkorn said. “I felt very strong during the second day of testing.”

2019 EVENT: Rush Crowns Champs, First Female Winner at Annual Technician Skills Competition

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In this special two-part year in review, we look at the technology and regulatory developments that will help you and your business in 2021. Transport Topics Reporter Eleanor Lamb and Managing Editor for Features Seth Clevenger discuss HOS, software, equipment and more. Hear a snippet, above, and get the full program by going to RoadSigns.TTNews.com.

The Heavy Duty Supplier Division included six categories with a winner and runner-up. Heavy-duty winners received a $6,500 prize. They were:

  • Jorge Alvarez, heavy-duty alternative fuels, Rush Truck Center of Houston.
  • Travis Webster, heavy-duty vocational, Rush Truck Center of Houston.
  • Raymond Jesse, heavy-duty Cummins engine, Rush Truck Center of Tulsa, Okla.
  • Jason Swann, heavy-duty Eaton engines, Rush Truck Center of Dallas.
  • Tim Kelley, heavy-duty Navistar Engine, Rush Truck Center of Smyrna, Ga.
  • Jared Little, heavy-duty Paccar MX, Rush Truck Center of Dallas.

“It was challenging on a lot of fronts,” Swann said. “For one, we don’t have to put our hands on anything.”

The Medium Duty Supplier Division also included six categories with the winner in each receiving a $6,500 prize. In addition to Graham, the other medium-duty winners were:

  • Jason Timmons, medium-duty Allison, Rush Truck Center of Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Joe Walsh, medium-duty Ford Motors, Rush Truck Center of Orlando, Fla.
  • Roberto Ochoa, medium-duty Hino, Rush Truck Center of Fontana, Calif.
  • Rick Nonamaker, medium-duty Isuzu, Rush Truck Center of Waco, Texas.
  • Joseph Behrend, medium-duty International, Rush Truck Center of Idaho Falls, Idaho.

Jason Vasquez of Texas, runner-up in the Allison category, said he plans on spending his prize money on an engagement ring.

“She might find out about that because it’s going to be live broadcast this weekend,” Jody Pollard, the senior vice president of sales and marketing at Rush Enterprises, said with a laugh. “We’ll try to keep it under wraps.”

The Rising Star Division award was presented to a contestant who is a Level 1 or Level 2 technician with no more than two years in the industry. Winner Samuel Jakubauskas, from Rush Truck Center of Denver, got $3,000 and a toolkit.

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