Photo courtesy of ASE
Brianna Luckman, heavy duty technician at the Walmart fleet maintenance shop in Bentonville, Arkansas, works on trucks performing preventive maintenance and follow-up repairs, as well as trailers, doing major repairs such as full front grid replacements.

Bolstering your technicians

May 18, 2021
How opportunities in training, support, and recognition can help fleets drive technician retention.

As a heavy duty technician at the Walmart fleet maintenance shop in Bentonville, Arkansas, Brianna Luckman’s typical day is anything but typical. Some days she works on trucks, performing preventive maintenance service and follow-up repairs, while other days she works on trailers, doing major repairs such as full front grid replacements.

Since joining Walmart through an internship program in 2017, Luckman has gained the skills and knowledge that it takes to maintain the equipment that is an essential part of the Walmart supply chain network, delivering products to local stores throughout the Midwest region.

However, Luckman did not grow up dreaming of one day becoming a heavy duty technician. At the suggestion of her father to pursue a career in the trades, she enrolled in the Medium and Heavy Truck Diesel Technology program at Northwest Technical Institute (NWTI) in Springdale, Arkansas, which ended up being a lifechanging decision.

Luckman credits her five years spent in the U.S. Navy as an aviation electrician technician – responsible for communications, navigation, and GPS for fixed-wing and helicopters – with giving her the confidence to try something different.

“I strongly believe the military helped me when choosing my future career path – I learned I could take on different situations that I normally wouldn’t have done in the past,” Luckman said.

It was during her third semester of school that Luckman began her internship at Walmart. At the time, the program required 200 hours of on-the-job training, which she completed by working weekends and after school. She was paired with a senior technician to “watch and learn” the full scope of what a heavy duty technician may encounter in a repair shop, which includes everything from oil changes to diagnostics and repair.

After graduating from NWTI in 2017, Luckman accepted a position with Walmart as a preventive maintenance technician, where she now performs diagnostics and in-depth repairs on tractor-trailers, including Freightliner Cascadia P3s and P4s, Kenworth T680s, and Peterbilts. Luckman was also given the opportunity to take on more responsibility to work and cross train as a warranty clerk. This included repair order accuracy review, which she believes helped to make her an even better technician.

Luckman currently holds National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification in electrical/electronic systems.

“My ASE certification has helped advance my career as it encourages me to ‘revisit the books’ in order to keep up my technological knowledge when I prepare to renew my certification,” Luckman said.

As for the future, Luckman plans to take her ASE certifications to the next level.

“My goal is to earn my ASE Master Technician status,” Luckman said. “I hope to one day become a Walmart area manager.”

Technician support

Service Shop Operations Manager Charles Bishop is Luckman’s supervisor.

“We are very proud of Brianna and we’re lucky to have her on our team,” Bishop said. “She started with us through her internship program, and we have watched her become a very capable technician.

“It’s important to help young technicians as they are getting started in the field,” Bishop added. “One of the things that Walmart does is it provides new technicians with all the shop tools that they need at no cost. We understand that the tools they need to do their jobs everyday are a big investment, so instead of expecting them to purchase the tools, we take care of it and put that money back in their pockets. We’re glad that we have the programs in place to recruit and retain technicians such as Brianna.”

Walmart also supports their technicians by offering ASE certification premium pay, along with benefits such as health insurance and eyecare. In addition, they offer a “dollar a day” degree program that promotes higher learning opportunities for trade and associate degrees. Employees commit to contributing one dollar per day and Walmart pays for the remainder of the tuition.

“Walmart does a great job of retaining its technicians – it’s the little things that go a long way when it comes to making people feel like they are an integral part of the team,” Bishop said. “We provide opportunities for personal growth, such as additional training and increased responsibilities, to help build their careers within the company. We want our technicians to feel like it is their Walmart. For them, it’s more than just earning a paycheck.”

Technician recognition

As a way to recognize vehicle service professionals who are proficient, credentialed, and committed to excellence, ASE has designated June as Automotive Service Professionals Month.

“Automotive Service Professionals Month is the perfect time to say, ‘thank you,’ to the men and women who service and maintain the vital and highly complex vehicles upon which our economy depends for day-to-day transportation in cities, rural areas, and everywhere in between,” said Tim Zilke, president and CEO, ASE. “It’s a chance for everyone to acknowledge their skills and dedication, and ASE is proud to spotlight individuals, such as Brianna Luckman, for their commitment to their craft.”

Eric Benge, senior manager fleet maintenance, Walmart, explained that the company encourages ASE and industry credentials.

“We appreciate the month-long opportunity to officially recognize our technicians and give them the visibility that they deserve for the contributions that they make to the supply chain,” Benge said. “Without a well maintained and efficient fleet, we couldn’t fulfill our obligation to keeping our store shelves stocked with the products that our customers depend on.”

According to Benge, Walmart reimburses its technicians for their ASE registration and testing fees.

“We hope to incentivize them to continue to learn and develop their skills,” Benge concluded. “They have a real sense of pride when they are able to put that ASE patch on their uniform.”

For more information about Automotive Service Professionals Month or recognizing excellence in your service bay, visit ase.com/aspm2021.

George Arrants is the vice president for ASE Education Foundation. Arrants works with instructors and administrators to develop partnerships with local businesses and industries through program advisory committees. He is the past chair of the Technology and Maintenance Council’s TMCSuperTech, the National Technician Skills Competition, and TMCFutureTech, the National Student Technician Competition. His entire career has been in the automotive service and education industries.

About the Author

George Arrants | Training consultant, K&D Technical Innovations

George Arrants is the vice president for ASE Education Foundation. Arrants works with instructors and administrators to develop partnerships with local businesses and industries through program advisory committees. He is the past chair of the Technology and Maintenance Council’s TMCSuperTech, the National Technician Skills Competition, and TMCFutureTech, the National Student Technician Competition. His entire career has been in the automotive service and education industries.

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