Mohawk’s Christopher Tate Wins Second TMCSuperTech Grand Championship
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CLEVELAND — For a second time, Christopher Tate of Mohawk Truck Inc. was named Grand Champion at TMCSuperTech. During his 16th year at the event, Tate claimed victories in two individual stations — fuel & lubes and suspension — and said with this victory he plans to retire from the competition.
The win was an emotional one for Tate; during his brief acceptance speech he dedicated the victory to a mentor who had recently died.
Tate intends to now become a judge in future competitions.
Even with an altered format for 2021, TMCSuperTech competition was no less intense. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)
With this victory, Tate was awarded a trip for two to the 2022 Daytona 500, an embroidered TMCSuperTech 2021 leather jacket, and a collection of prizes, tools and tech services. He also won in 2009.
Two TravelCenters of America technicians joined Tate on the podium; Joseph C. Anderson Jr., who placed second, and Michael Kerfoot, who took third. Anderson and Kerfoot also accepted this year’s team award.
Kerfoot was one of two competitors to win multiple stations. He claimed the wheel end, coolant & DEF, and belts & hoses stations, while José J. Feliciano of Dickinson Fleet Services — who competed with a broken hand — captured the fastener and brakes individual titles.
This year’s TMCSuperTech — officially known as the National Technician Skills Competition — took on a different look this year.
Held during American Trucking Associations’ 2021 Technology & Maintenance Council Fall Meeting & Transportation Technology Exhibition, this year’s scaled-down version presented 34 competitors with a challenging day of written exams and 11 skill stations that tested their knowledge of brakes, fuels and lubes, lighting, coolants and other systems.
A TMCSuperTech competitor reviews his answers on his test. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)
Administered by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), the tests measure technicians’ knowledge of commercial vehicles, including theory and practical application.
The unique format of this TMC show — which combines its annual and fall meetings — compelled the adjustment in the SuperTech competition, and brought a new angle to the competition, noted Nathan Olson, a service technician with NationaLease.
“What makes this different is that it’s all tabletop,” he said. “Last year, we had trucks we could put our hands on.”
Olson, a previous TMCSuperTech contestant, noted this format affects the mental aspect of the competition, as well. In previous years, he noted, competitors were talking to judges near the trucks, letting them know their thoughts and motives.
“Here, we don’t have that. I don’t have to talk to anybody,” Olson said, eliciting a chuckle from two fellow competitors. “(The judges) can’t get in my head … and sometimes it’s a little hard to do myself.”
Scott Davidson, an ASE master technician for TravelCenters of America, has competed in the TMCSuperTech competition seven times, and won the trailer technician category in 2016. His company usually brings a double-digit number of technicians to the competition. This year, however, TA brought seven competitors. No matter the numbers, Davidson said the camaraderie of the event is always worthwhile.
“Other than seeing all of the familiar faces of the competitors and the judges, it’s a time — if you have time for the meetings and such — to get all the things informational, and to make contact with people from across the nation,” he said. “These are people that are seeing the same problems as I am. These are people that you can call and ask for help.”
Patrick Allen, another ASE Master Technician from TravelCenters of America, was competing in his first TMCSuperTech. He agreed with the value of talking shop with his peers.
“After competitions like these, with other people that you’re around, you learn about what others went through, and learn more about what you are doing,” said Allen, who has competed in similar technician skills competitions.
TMC SuperTech competitors were spread out at various stations in a large conference room. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)
While the format of this year’s TMCSuperTech is different, the aim is the same, Davidson noted.
“I didn’t know what to expect with not as many stations and techs,” he said, “but it’s definitely a good chance to be a grand champion. That’s the main goal.”
The complete order of finish:
- Christopher P. Tate, Mohawk Truck Inc.
- Joseph C. Anderson Jr., TravelCenters of America
- Michael Kerfoot, TravelCenters of America
- Michael Krause, Clarke Power Services, Inc.
- José J. Feliciano, Dickinson Fleet Services
- Aaron K. Burdick, Clarke Power Services Inc.
- Scott Davidson, TravelCenters of America
- Lucas Coyle, TravelCenters of America
- Jeremy Piepmeier, Dickinson Fleet Services
- John Justin Kidd Sr., TravelCenters of America
- Nathan Louis Olson, NationaLease
- Brian Peters, NationaLease
- Patrick Allen, TravelCenters of America
- John Norwood, NationaLease
- Morgan Barnes, MHC Truck Leasing
- Garrett Bankston, Clarke Power Services Inc.
- Joseph R. Catlin, Mohawk Truck Inc.
- Jeff Brinkman, Dickinson Fleet Services
- Azahel Chebon Palomino, Love's Travel Stops
- Christopher Gerrald, TravelCenters of America
- Joshua Lawhorn, Dickinson Fleet Services
- James Robinson, Iron Buffalo Holdings Dba JECO
- Alekrei Naranovich, Hogan Truck Leasing Inc.
- Lucas Henson, Love's Travel Stops
- Christopher Herndon, Love's Travel Stops
- Curtis Hart, Transervice Logistics Inc.
- Carroll Tipton, Sunoco LP
- Anthony Black, Love's Travel Stops
- Zachary Pagett, Love's Travel Stops
- Caleb Walcott, Hogan Truck Leasing Inc.
- Adam Mendoza, Transervice Logistics Inc.
- Donovan Peshlakai, Love's Travel Stops
- Christopher Thomas, Dickinson Fleet Services
- Brandon Monroe, Dickinson Fleet Services
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