- Associated Press - Saturday, April 29, 2017

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - A Dubuque-based trucking business is investing resources in growing its talent from within.

The fourth class of Truck Country’s Diesel Technician Training Institute is making its way through the program. The students, who split time between home shops and training, are the first to use Truck Country’s new facility.

The program, which typically takes nine to 10 months, molds students into Freightliner-certified diesel technicians, capable of working on the armada of heavy trucks that make up Truck Country’s clientele, the Telegraph Herald (https://bit.ly/2pZhotJ ) reported.

“We started this school because of the need of having technicians,” said Roger Skemp, who works in recruiting with Truck Country parent company McCoy Group. “It’s become so great we just can’t hire enough people. So our ownership kind of came up with this idea: What if we start our own school?”

The first three cycles of the program were conducted in Cuba City, Wisconsin. Training moved to the new location at in Iowa last fall.

Students spend about 40 percent of their time training in classrooms, learning how to do everything from oil changes to computer diagnostics. The rest of time is spent doing hands-on training in the center’s spacious workshop.

“They’ll actually do an oil change or a brake job or a clutch replacement with the supervision of the trainers so that we can monitor each and every step to make sure it’s done properly,” said Terry Straw, corporate trainer. “Then they go back to their shops after that and are able to do it in their shops.

The first class produced a handful of technicians, and participation has increased each year. For the most part, trained technicians have stayed with the company after completing the program.

The training isn’t modeled after an existing program, according to Straw.

“We just kind of based it off, what does a technician need to know in his first five to eight years in the industry?” he said. “And how do we take the current training Freightliner has and get more in depth with it?”

Jacob Cooey works at the Dubuque Truck Country location and is going through the training program. Fixing things is in his blood, he said.

“My family has always been into fixing their own stuff,” he said. “If they had a problem with a vehicle, or even stuff around the house … they figure out how to fix it themselves and they do it themselves.”

Cooey’s brother is an automotive mechanic. But Cooey has always been more intrigued by the bigger vehicles.

When he learned of the Truck Country program, he “jumped” at the chance.

“It’s such a great program,” he said. “Truck Country really takes care of their guys. They want to make sure that you have the right education.”

___

Information from: Telegraph Herald, https://www.thonline.com


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