This story appears in the Sept. 26 print edition of Transport Topics.
RALEIGH, N.C. — FedEx Freight technician Eric Vos earned the title of Grand Champion of TMC SuperTech for the second consecutive year in the competition, which was swept by FedEx Freight.
“I’m overwhelmed,” Vos told Transport Topics on Sept. 21. “This was going to be my last year no matter how I did. I’ve been in it for 10 years, so I’m just glad to go out on top.”
He won the title at the National Technician Skills Competition during American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council’s fall meeting Sept. 18-22 at the convention center here.
RELATED: See list of winners
“I always like working with my hands so that was probably the most enjoyable part,” Vos said.
Vos said he now looks forward to putting his knowledge and skills to use in a different, yet related, role: training truck technicians.
It’s his last year competing as a technician, but he expects that enjoyment will continue. “I plan on teaching, trying to get into a different role within FedEx,” he said.
The SuperTech event includes a qualifying written test and qualifying rounds of diagnostic skills competitions. Competitors then advance to the hands-on skills challenge.
About 150 contestants competed across 24 skills stations and the written examination.
“For 12 years, TMC SuperTech has provided an opportunity to recognize the outstanding work of our industry’s technicians, and this year was no different,” ATA President Chris Spear said in a statement. “I’d like to congratulate Eric on being named Grand Champion and recognize all of this year’s competitors for their professionalism and dedication.”
George Arrants, contest chairman, said last year that Vos won without winning any stations. “Obviously, he upped his game,” Arrants said. “He won a lot of work stations this year, so that tells me he is a true professional and is committed to his craft.”
Vos won eight station competitions during Sept. 20-21, including wheel end No. 2, fifth wheel, preventive maintenance inspection, steering and suspension, and starting and charging.
Starting and charging “was fairly easy for me,” Vos said. “I studied really hard on that, and I try to do that every day on every truck that we PM.”
He said HVAC was his “most challenging” station. “Just not familiar with the system that they had on that truck.”
FedEx Freight’s Mark McLean Jr. and Stephen Weaver finished second and third overall, respectively.
McLean also is a two-time SuperTech Grand Champion, capturing the top spot in 2013 and 2014.
Asked about any friendly rivalry between him and Vos, McLean said: “It’s friendly, but it’s extremely competitive … probably since 2012 now, so the last four years.”
Vos and McLean also won the team competition on behalf of FedEx Freight.
Joe Oleson, director of equipment and maintenance support at FedEx Freight, said Vos “is part of a bigger team — call them the wolf pack. The pack is as good as the wolf, and the wolf is as good as the pack, and that’s how they support each other.”
Meanwhile, the winner of the first trailer technician competition at SuperTech was Scott Davidson of TravelCenters of America.
Matthew Adams, of Francis Tuttle Technology Center in Oklahoma City, won the National Student Technician Skills Competition, or TMC FutureTech.
Arrants also noted that out of 47 competitors, five were female students. “That’s a high percentage,” he said. “That tells us more women are considering us as an option for their occupation or their trade.”
Lindsay Dunham of WyoTech won the safety and environmental station. “That was the first time a female has ever won a work station,” Arrants said.
In the FutureTech competition, Daniel Hanna from Forsyth Technical Community College finished second, and Clancy Johnson from Utah Valley University finished third.
When asked what he views as the challenges and opportunities for tomorrow’s truck technicians, Vos said, “Just getting into a decent job” is among the challenges. “But once you find that job that you like and the company treats you well, it’s worth staying with them,” he said.
“Just keep on going at it and learn as much as you can because every day, it’s changing,” Vos said.
Amanda Vos, Eric’s wife, described her husband as “very humble.” He “doesn’t brag; I’m the one that does all the bragging on him,” said Amanda, a salon owner and stylist.