Erin Brown | Fleet Maintenance
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Fleet Maintenance Overachievers: The honorable mentions

Dec. 12, 2023
To help select our inaugural Overachievers of the Year, we asked shops to tell us about their hardest-working maintenance professionals. And they answered. Here we highlight the honorable mentions.

Overachievers drive everyone else to try a little harder and pay a little bit more attention to detail. In an industry where mistakes can cost lives, they are nothing short of indispensable. That’s why we created this recognition program to remind everyone of that fact and to honor everyone in the industry who does their job the right way because it’s the right thing to do. 

Most likely, the hardest workers get the least amount of positive feedback, because if they ain’t broke, why manage them? We offered managers a chance to publicly call out their best employees and were not disappointed by the numerous entries. Calls for submissions went out in October, and finalists were selected in November by our panel of judges. Those winners will be announced over the next week, but before we do that, we wanted to recognize the honorable mentions who all help keep the nation’s commercial vehicles moving safely and efficiently.

Dan Brown | Advanced Diagnostic Technician | Cowan Systems

According to Shane Sansone, regional shop manager at Cowan, Brown “diagnoses the problems no one else can figure out with a smile and quick wit.” 

The friendly technician also helps the rest of the shop continuously improve in innovative ways. He repurposed a diesel oxidation catalyst from a wrecked truck into a training aid and explained to techs how the aftertreatment system works and impacts idle time, along with failure modes.

“He is very good at igniting the lightbulb within the mechanics,” Sansone noted.  “He makes sure that if someone doesn’t understand something he will take the time to explain and show them.  His patience and professionalism know no bounds.  We are glad to have him as an integral part of our Cowan family.”

Karl A. Schmidt | Shop Technician, Class-A | Schwerman Trucking Co.

Schmidt is the lone technician at Schwerman’s Toledo, Ohio terminal. In this role he must maintain and repair three different makes across nine model years and “has never bowed out of a task that we needed to handle in house for any reason,” the terminal’s maintenance shop foreman Eric Luffy said.

Tasks include aftertreatment and sensor, engine repair, wiring repairs, and wheel-end work.

“If we have the parts and consumable materials needed to fix something right, then we have no doubt it will be done,” Luffy added.

Schmidt also shares his knowledge and experience with fellow technicians and drivers, while also remaining open to being coached on areas of improvement, the foreman noted.

Joel McKinney | Lead Technician 1 | Penske Truck Leasing

McKinney, who works at one of Penske’s largest lease customers in Pittsburgh, has gained a reputation for superior service and  interpersonal skills.

“His approachable, kind, knowledgeable, confident, and hard-working nature ensures that his team and all the customers and drivers that he interacts with are provided a top-notch level of customer service,” said Devon Gehman, District Service Manager – PTL. “The customers and drivers feel the support and make it a point to share positive feedback. Joel can turn any routine truck repair into an impactful and positive experience for the drivers in need.”

Penske noted the tech with eight years of experience has become customers “go-to” guy due to his work ethic and diagnostic skills. He also assists other Penske shop techs via phone calls to help them achieve exceptional uptime as well, and if that’s not enough, volunteers at local trade schools to help the next generation of technicians, too.

Miguel Rodriguez | Senior Mobile Diesel Technician | Mobility Fleet Services by Cox Automotive

While working as a mobile technician in Northern California, Rodriguez exceeded Cox Automotive’s set work efficiency goals while providing high-quality service on time,” said Mark Shagoury Mobility Fleet Services general manager.

“He is one of his team's top performers and has earned his customers' trust and satisfaction, and has also demonstrated his safety awareness and leadership skills by working without injury and mentoring less experienced technicians,” Shagoury added.

Stephen Ready | Fleet Maintenance Manager | Cumberland Farms

Ready is always willing to receive input from Cumberland’s drivers and ensures their equipment is properly spec’d, safe, reliable, and well-maintained. Overall, Ready manages 130+ tractors and bulk fuel and reefer trailers.

Bill Ten Eyck, SVP of national accounts at Fleet Advantage, has worked with Ready for six years and noted in that when equipment’s reach end of lease, they are returned in great shape allowing the management company to quickly process and sell. Ten Eyck also cited Ready’s “Herculean efforts for his drivers when units are down or out of service.”

Analia Martino | Team Leader | Great Dane

Working at Great Dane Trailers in Tampa, Martino “is a good leader who cares about her team, gives understandable guidance, and is encouraging, and helps us work more efficiently and safely,” a Great Dane rep said.

The parts coordinator is a positive force at the trailer dealership and is never stingy with words of encouragement, the rep added.

Justin Perry | Maintenance Coordinator | Marathon Petroleum Co.

When Marathon’s assets are out-of-service, Perry makes sure the oil company’s vendors and service providers prioritize and expedite parts delivery and repairs. He also created a standardized spec program and ensures new assets are built on time and upfit correctly. To help the fleet manage costs, Perry also negotiated with vendors to get advantageous labor and material rates, explained Eddie Davis, Marathon director of maintenance & reliability.

To stay ahead of downtime issue, Perry also analyzes trends to identify potential component failure. An axle analysis led Marathon to spec Allison transmission which had a higher initial cost but were a better fit due to reduced maintenance costs, Davis noted.

With an eye on the future of the industry, the maintenance coordinator led Marathon’s California Clear Air Summit and helped steer the company’s California Zero Emissions Strategy.

Keith Bice | Parts Associate | Great Dane

Bice’s day-to-day work has him running all over the Great Dane’s Birmingham, Alabama location, from parts counter to warehouse to shop, and he’s a parts driver, too. He “always gives extra effort” and his great attitude helps Great Dane location run more smoothly, a Great Dane rep said.

“Keith has stepped into a new role and raised the bar to the next level,” the rep added. “He is a parts counter guy, warehouse guy, parts driver, and all-around helper to everyone. He never asks if something needs to get done, he just does it with a great attitude every time. The parts department could not run smoothly without someone like Keith.”

Alan Mather | Assistant Manager/Service Writer | West Michigan International

Mather leads the service team, schedules work and road service calls, and also mentors and assists technicians with repairs and diagnostics.

“He is always willing to help his peers and/or the customer anytime any day and has been known to come in early or stay late to ensure the customers’ needs are met,” said service manager Tommy Powers. “He is a huge asset to our team.”

Isaiah Franklin | S3 Lead Service Technician | Stevens Trucking Company 

Cole Wells , director of maintenance at Stevens Trucking, lauded Franklin for his professionalism, technical skills, and demeanor with customers.

“He will go to the next level to ensure drivers understand DOT and maintenance requirements for their assigned units,” Wells explained. “He is currently training multiple technicians to help the fleet shop be “top notch and it get it done on time and every time.”

John Carpenter | Master Mechanic | MTM Transit

The Austin, Texas-based diagnostician Carpenter goes above and beyond to troubleshoot issues with MTM Transit’s passenger vans transport, which consistently impresses his facility foreman, Matt Birkinbine.

“He’s a go-to mechanic when anyone in the shop has trouble, or if advice is needed,” Birkinbine asserted. “He’s personable, friendly, hardworking, honest, and loyal! Every shop needs a Johnny for every 6 to 10 vehicles.

Aaron Archer | Technician | Harlan Kemper and Associates

“If something is not right or is made poorly and does not fit, he goes the extra mile to make sure it is done right, looks good, works as it should, and is easy to repair down the road- serviceable,” a colleague wrote. “He makes sure it is safe as well.”

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