John Hitch | Fleet Maintenance
Doug Nickles, a FedEx Freight technician from East Moline, Illinois, was crowned TMC SuperTech 2023 Grand Champion.

FedEx Freight delivers a TMCSuperTech sweep, with Doug Nickles crowned as '23 Grand Champion

Sept. 21, 2023
FedEx Freight took the top five spots at the latest national skills competition's HD track, with FedEx Freight techs also nabbing top honors in LMV and Trailer tracks.

CLEVELAND—The winner's podium popped in purple all night at the 2023 TMCSuperTech awards dinner on Sept. 18, as FedEx Freight dominated the American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council's National Technicians Skills Competition. Doug Nickles, a FedEx Freight technician from East Moline, Illinois, was named TMCSuperTech 2023 Grand Champion for the first time, with four other FedEx Freight techs also finishing in the Top 5 of the Heavy Duty track. Wesley Salley of Round Rock, Texas, placed second and Kelby Bentley, the 2019 Grand Champion, placed third.

FedEx Freight colleagues Cory Westfall and Phillip Barlow repeated as winners of the Trailer and Light and Medium Vehicles tracks, respectively. Cox Automotive's Michael Kerfoot Jr. finished right behind Westfall for the second straight year. Zachary Nikorak and Alan Snyder Cox Automotive were the runners-up in the LMV track.

TMCSuperTech was held in Cleveland's Huntington Convention Center Sept. 17-18, in conjunction with TMC's Fall Meeting.

The two-day competition pushed 93 professional techs to the limits testing their knowledge and hands-on skills in heavy-duty truck, light/medium vehicle, and trailer tracks. New skills stations also tested techs' ability to troubleshoot Cybersecurity, CNG, and Electric Vehicle issues.

Nickles and Bentley also won the team title at this year’s competition. Overall, Nickles, a graduate of Universal Technical Institute's diesel program, attributed his win to teamwork.

"My teammates—we push each other to work on our weaknesses,"  he said, adding that he relied on a great deal of studying to give him the upper hand in the competition.

For his efforts, Nickles won a cache of prizes, including a "dream shop" from Reliance Supply, which included, tools, fittings, connectors, and a $2,000 store credit.

“Winning TMCSuperTech is a tremendous achievement and clearly demonstrates Doug’s dedication to service and professionalism,” said TMC Executive Director Robert Braswell. “As always, this competition brings out the best in our industry and Doug, and the rest of his FedEx Freight teammates rose to the occasion, providing real examples of the knowledge and skills needed to keep this industry moving. On behalf of ATA and TMC, I want to congratulate Doug, and thank all our competitors who make this such a special event.”

Twenty-five students’ skills were also put to the test to compete for the top spot of TMCFutureTech 2023. Timothy Rose, a student at Ferris State University, won the National Student Technician Skills Competition. He finished in second place last year. Fellow Ferris student Maxwell Chatman finishing second. Northwest Technical Institute’s Joshua Waldrep placed third.

Last year, FedEx's Freight's Bonnie Greenwood made female tech history by finishing second overall in the HD track, though she was unavailable to attend in 2023. There were fewer female techs overall this year. Only one female, April Hill from Travel Centers of America, competed in the professional competition, TMCFutureTech had two: Aysia Williams from Francis Tuttle Technology Center, and Jillian Proell from WyoTech. The student competition had only 17 challengers last year, but four were women. Experts estimate the U.S. repair sector is about 2% female.

TMCSuperTech 2023 Skills Station Winners:

Heavy-Duty Track:

  • CNG Fuel System Essentials: Jamie Smith, FedEx Freight
  • Brakes: Kelby Bentley, FedEx Freight
  • Wheel End: Brian Peters, Salem Leasing Corp.
  • Fifth Wheel: Doug Nickles, FedEx Freight
  • Liftgates: Jamie Smith, FedEx Freight
  • Automated Manual Transmission: Ian Matje, Iron Buffalo Holdings Dba JECO
  • Tire & Wheel: Kevin DaCosta, Publix Supermarkets, Inc.
  • Tractor PMI: Wesley Salley, FedEx Freight
  • Starting & Charging: Doug Nickles, FedEx Freight
  • Steering & Suspension: Doug Nickles, FedEx Freight
  • Aftertreatment Mechanical: Lucas Coyle, TravelCenters of America

Top 3 Heavy Duty Track Order of Finish

3rd: Kelby Bentley, FedEx Freight

2nd: Wesley Salley, FedEx Freight

Team Champion:  Doug Nickels and Kelby Bentley

Grand Champion:  Doug Nickels, FedEx Freight

 Trailer Track:

  • Written Test: Michael Kerfoot, Cox Automotive Mobility
  • Hydraulics & Drivebelts: Michael Kerfoot, Cox Automotive Mobility
  • Trailer Wheel End: Cory Westfall, FedEx Freight
  • Electrical Vehicle Safety: Cory Westfall, FedEx Freight
  • Trailer Fasteners: Cory Westfall, FedEx Freight
  • Trailer PMI: Cory Westfall,FedEx Freight
  • Trailer Alignment: Adam Burton, Great Dane
  • Roll-Up Doors: Cory Westfall, FedEx Freight
  • Trailer Lighting: Cory Westfall, FedEx Freight
  • Trailer Liftgates: Adam Burton, Great Dane
  • Central Tire Inflation: Michael Kerfoot, Cox Automotive Mobility
  • Trailer Electrical Corrosion: Michael Kerfoot, Cox Automotive Mobility
  • Trailer ABS: Cory Westfall, FedEx Freight

3rd place: Issac Perez, FedEx Freight

2nd place: Michael Kerfoot, Jr.

1st place: Cory Westfall, FedEx Freight

Light and Medium Vehicles Track:

  • Written Test: Alan Snyder, Cox Automotive Mobility
  • Fasteners: Philip Barlow, FedEx Freight
  • Wiring Diagrams: Zachary Nikorak, Cox Automotive Mobility
  • RP Manuals: Philip Barlow, FedEx Freight
  • Coolants & DEF: Philip Barlow, FedEx Freight
  • Electric Vehicle Safety: Alan Snyder, Cox Automotive Mobility
  • Electrical Circuits: Zachary Nikorak, Cox Automotive Mobility
  • Lubricants & Fuels: Philip Barlow, FedEx Freight
  • Wheel End: Zachary Nikorak, Cox Automotive Mobility
  • EVAP Systems: Alan Snyder, Cox Automotive Mobility
  • Preventive Maintenance: Andrew Hansen, United Parcel Service, Inc.
  • Liftgates: Zachary Nikorak, Cox Automotive Mobility
  • CNG Fuel System Essentials: Philip Barlow, FedEx Freight

3rd Place: Alan Snyder, Cox Automotive Mobilty

2nd Place: Zachary Nikorak, Cox Automotive Mobility

1st Place: Philip Barlow, FedEx Freight

TMCFutureTech Station Winners

  • Written Test: Joshua Waldrep, Northwest Technical Institute
  • Fasteners: Maxwell Chatman, Ferris State University
  • RP Manuals: Erik Barishman, Madison Area Technical College
  • Wiring Diagrams: Zachary Davis, Forsyth Technical Community College
  • Preventative Maintenance: David Johnson, Mid-America Technology Center
  • Electrical Circuits: John Lowe, Des Moines Area Comm. College
  • Lubricants & Fuels: Joshua Waldrep, Northwest Technical Institute
  • Cybersecurity: Cole Plaster, Forsyth Technical Community College
  • Coolants & DEF: Timothy Rose, Ferris State University
  • Electrical Vehicle Safety: Lane Archer, Francis Tuttle Technology Center
  • Trailer Wheel End: Maxwell Chatman, Ferris State University
  • CNG Fuel System Essentials: Timothy Rose, Ferris State University
  • Hydraulics & Drivebelts: Timothy Rose, Ferris State University

3rd place: Joshua Waldrep, Northwest Technical Institute

2nd place: Maxwell Chatman, Ferris State University

1st place: Timothy Rose, Ferris State University

The list of winners can also be found here.

About the Author

Cris Beaulieu

Cris Beaulieu is an Associate Editor for Fleet Maintenance magazine. She joined the team after working in local news media. She earned a bachelor’s in journalism at Cleveland State University along with a TV and Radio Broadcast degree at Ohio Media School. 

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