| April 11, 2005

Mack Helping Recruit Future Technicians
Mack Trucks is launching a new program to increase the number of skilled truck technicians entering the job market.

“Dealers today are facing a double challenge – they’re confronted with this severe shortage of qualified help, yet they don’t have the time or resources to systematically address it,” said Al Hertzog, director of Mack’s North American Institute.

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates an annual shortage of 35,000 truck technicians through 2010.

Mack’s Technician Recruitment Program is designed to help bridge this gap. The program’s centerpiece is the Technician Recruitment Kit, which features materials and advice to get young people to consider careers as truck technicians. The kit includes a recruitment guide, brochures, video and PowerPoint presentations.

The kit’s audience is high-school students.

“Many of them believe that a four-year college degree is their only option,” Hertzog said. “They have this image of the dirty mechanic.”

Young people need to understand that the nature of the job is changing, thanks to advanced electronics, computerized diagnostics and other new technologies, Hertzog said.

The North American Institute is adding an Entry Level Technician training course to help dealers develop and retain newly recruited employees.

“It’s not enough just to bring them in the door,” Herzog said.

Dealers say they need technicians with basic computer and technical skills who can remove and replace water pumps, alternators and wheel seals, do basic brake overhauls and then program a truck’s electronic control module, Herzog said. “It’s these basic skills that are the focus of our new course.”

The institute offers dealers a similar program for new parts associates.
-Lance Orr

Mission Accomplished!
Ex-trucker Thomas Hamill, who was kidnapped by Iraqi insurgents but boldly escaped, has saved his Mississippi farm, the reason he went driving in Iraq in the first place. “Yes, it’s going to stay in my family,” he said at the NATSO Show 2005 in Nashville, Tenn., in February.

Hamill has another project in the works – he’s making an audiobook of his best-selling book, and he says he’ll share the proceeds with the relatives of members of his ambushed Iraq trucking convoy who did not make it out. Hamill says he’ll probably get back behind the wheel of a big rig one day, “but this time I’ll be an owner-operator, so I can be home more; I’ve found out that family is about the most important thing there is.”

Hamill signed his book, Escape in Iraq, for NATSO Show attendees.

Tonnage Index Up
The American Trucking Associations’ Truck Tonnage Index surged 3.4 percent to 116.5 in January. This was the largest month-to-month gain in several years and a marked improvement over the one-point decrease in December. The index was 6.4 percent higher than in January 2004.

Sirius Gets NASCAR in ’07
Sirius Satellite Radio has signed an exclusive five-year contract to broadcast NASCAR racing and events starting in 2007. XM Satellite Radio holds these rights for the current season and the 2006 season.

Diesel Rises
The average retail price for a gallon of diesel rose 9.8 cents to $2.118 for the week ending Feb. 28 – the highest price since mid-November and one of the largest increases in fuel prices since the Department of Energy began tracking diesel prices in 1994.

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