Jade Brasher | FleetOwner
Cox Automotive Mobility technician at testing station during the Top Tech competition.

Cox Automotive highlights its top technicians' skills

Aug. 15, 2023
Cox Automotive Mobility's Top Tech competition is just one way the company invests in its techs. Its training is another investment. And fleets are noticing.

INDIANAPOLIS—The Cox Automotive Mobility Top Tech Competition took place Aug. 11 and 12, bringing together Cox Automotive Mobility Fleet Service’s 30 brightest fleet technicians from across the country to compete. Technicians rotated through 15 30-minute testing stations using a mix of written and performance-based formats in light- and medium-duty engines, heavy-duty engines, and trailers. Judges determine their scores, and at the end of the event, a champion and a runner-up are announced for each category.

Cox Automotive also invited a select group of its Mobility Fleet Service customers to see the event. Eli Hollis, asset control manager at CEVA Logistics, told FleetOwner he expected a head-to-head competition, a race to beat the clock. But Hollis said the station format of the competition truly allows competitors and event attendees to understand who is the “best of the best—who can get it done, not just the fastest, but the safest and smoothest.”

Hollis’ colleague, Erasmo Munoz, fleet maintenance coordinator at CEVA Logistics fleet maintenance coordinator, echoed Hollis’ sentiment.

“These guys came well prepared,” Munoz told FleetOwner. “It’s not about finishing the job quick but about diagnosing the issues properly.”

Although the competition was the main event, Cox Automotive didn’t miss the opportunity to educate event attendees about how its fleet repair services got its start, how it helps fleets manage more than just repairs and maintenance, and about in-depth information about its fleet technician training—which includes its FleeTec Academy, a 16-week commercial vehicle technician educational program.

See alsoKodiak extends autonomous freight into Oklahoma for CEVA Logistics

Cox Automotive Mobility Fleet Services

Cox Automotive Mobility is a service-focused platform with divisions in Fleet Services, Fleet Operations, and EV Battery Solutions. Cox Mobility Fleet Services helps fleet customers decrease vehicle downtime and manage repairs and preventive maintenance at fixed locations or on-site via mobile technicians.

Cox Automotive formed the Cox Automotive Mobility Solutions Group in 2018, focusing on mobility as a service. Sandy Schwartz, Cox Automotive’s president at the time, said: “The future of mobility as a service is a massive business opportunity, with some estimates at well in excess of $1 trillion by 2030. Our goal is to grow our presence in that part of the business and help all our partners and clients successfully navigate the many new opportunities.”

Schwartz’s goal to grow the business has very much been achieved. Since then, the group has acquired companies such as TrudellFleetNet AmericaSpiers New Technologies, and Dickinson Fleet Servies, to name a few.

The acquisition of Dickinson Fleet Services led both Hollis and Munoz to Indianapolis for the Top Tech competition. Their employer, CEVA Logistics, had been a customer of Dickinson Fleet Services since 2017 and remained with Cox Automotive after it acquired Dickinson in January 2021.

CEVA Logistics employs a fleet of up to 2,700 trailers, mostly drive-in trailers that Cox Automotive services from “nose to tail,” according to Hollis.

When asked about fleet maintenance before Dickenson and Cox, Hollis responded: “A bit of a mess.” He said CEVA had a service provider in each of the markets it served, and with 52 CEVA stations with fleet vehicles that needed servicing, the task was difficult.

He said sometimes they would have to call a “Joe Blow shop down the road” that couldn’t service a truck that week because it didn’t have a technician available. Then, they’d have to call another shop to check technician availability because a fast turnaround was needed.

Switching fleet maintenance operations over to Dickinson and Cox gave CEVA access to nationwide suppliers, and the company’s mobile technicians were “the number one game changer” for CEVA because drivers didn’t have to take their trucks to a facility and wait for a repair to take place, Hollis explained.

See also: Roadmap to resolving roadside breakdowns

What fleets appreciate

At the Top Tech competition, Joe George, president of Cox Automotive, said downtime is among the biggest problems fleet companies face. He said the goal of Cox Automotive Mobility is to connect fleet owners with service providers and Cox Automotive’s own businesses to meet the fleets’ goals and optimize the fleet customer experience.

After speaking with Hollis and Munoz, it’s apparent that CEVA Logistics’ maintenance goals are being met. Hollis said Cox Automotive Mobility technicians set up on-site at CEVA’s biggest locations, with a few technicians working during the day and one working at night conducting routine maintenance and preventive maintenance.

Before being a Cox Automotive customer, Hollis told FleetOwner that completing low-end repairs and simple preventive maintenance procedures would have taken a full day. Now with on-site mobile technicians, preventive maintenance and repairing wear and tear items takes only a few hours at most.

“Mobile repair … is almost the industry standard now,” Hollis said. “There’s been a shift since 2016 that I saw to where if you’re not running mobile repair trucks, you’re waiting. And any downtime means no money being made off that trailer or truck.”

See also: Four steps to reducing your fleet’s downtime

Investing in the techs

After attending the event, Munoz, who has previously worked as a technician, saw to the extent Cox Automotive Mobility invests in its technicians. The technicians are getting the best Cox can provide, he said.

“The company is investing in the techs. They’re getting better equipment, better diagnostic tools,” Munoz said. “We can see it today, here.”

Cox Automotive Mobility invests in its fleet service business when it comes to electric vehicles, as well. Terry Rivers, senior manager of vehicle services training at Cox Automotive’s FleeTec academy, said last year, 0% of the technicians that graduated from the academy had EV certification. However, this year, there were about 10% of FleeTec graduates with EV certification, a number that Rivers expects to grow in the coming years. There was even an EV portion in the Top Tech competition this year.

See also: Fleets invest in technologies that lead to a cleaner future

“What I see here is they’re keeping up to date with the equipment,” Munoz told FleetOwner. “For example, the EVs, not everybody troubleshoots that type of equipment. So even if you’re testing here and get it wrong, there’s someone here to lecture you on how you failed or what was the complaint. There’s someone here to guide you through it.”

But not only does the company invest in its techs through education and equipment. Cox Automotive Mobility’s Top Tech competition is quite an experience for the company’s technicians, and it’s part of Cox Automotive’s investment in their technicians, as well. The company puts the Top Tech event together to celebrate its technicians, said Larry Fowler, senior manager of vehicle operations support at Cox Automotive. He also said Cox Automotive wants the technicians to consider just coming to the event as a prize.

To qualify for the competition, technicians must pass a written test. Then, Cox Automotive flies out the 30 technicians with the highest score to Indianapolis for the event. The techs also get to bring along a plus one. The company treats technicians and their plus one to lodging, meals, and even a trip to a NASCAR race at the end of the competition weekend. 

About the Author

Jade Brasher

Senior Editor Jade Brasher has covered vocational trucking and fleets for the past five years. A graduate of The University of Alabama with a degree in journalism, Jade enjoys telling stories about the people behind the wheel and the intricate processes of the ever-evolving trucking industry.    

Sponsored Recommendations

10 Steps Every Tech Should Follow Before Clearing Fault Codes

Are you tired of recurring fault codes? Clear them with confidence today! View the 10 steps that every technician should follow before attempting to clear faults.

Repair, Replace or Retire - Grab Your Calculator

Don't make the mistake of ignoring fleet maintenance. Learn how to be proactive instead of reactive and reduce up to 70% of breakdowns.

Mobil Delvac™ oils give race car haulers winning edge

See how Mobil Delvac™ oils boosted the Tony Stewart Racing Team

The Technician’s Guide for Mastering DPF Regens

Become a regen expert today! Equip yourself with the skills necessary to recognize when a forced regen is the correct procedure to maximize the lifespan of your filter and keep...