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Training Technicians a High Priority in Trucking Industry

Learn about what we can do to help train and retain more technicians.

Episode 191: We are in Orlando, Florida at HDA Truck Pride’s Annual Meeting. Parts technician and repair technician shortages are being felt all over the industry, what can we do to fill the open positions faster? 

My guest today is Martin Redilla the Education Manager at HDA Truck Pride.  

HDA Truck Pride Logo. In this episode, learn about what we can do to help train more technicians.

Guest Website: HDATruckPride.com

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Transcript of Episode:

Jamie Irvine:

You’re listening to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. And this is the show where you get expert advice about heavy-duty parts that keeps trucks and trailers on the road longer while lowering cost-per-mile. We’re in Orlando, Florida at HDA Truck Pride’s Annual Meeting. You might be able to hear all of the industry people in the background. It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to talk about important subjects related to the trucking industry. My guest today is Martin Redilla the Education Manager at HDA Truck Pride. Martin, welcome to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m glad to have you here.

Martin Redilla:

Thank you, yeah, happy to be here.

Jamie Irvine:

It’s so nice to be in person. We weren’t able to do this in the past. So we’re really gonna talk about such an important subject and, you know, as a strategic objective, why is education such a priority to HDA Truck Pride, but maybe as a larger extension, the independent service channel?

Martin Redilla:

I can think of a couple of reasons. First and foremost, all of these businesses are run by people and to get people up to speed, you know, parts folks, especially have this sort of tribal knowledge after they’ve been doing it for 20 years. And it’s really hard to get that knowledge quickly. So the more education you can make effective helps shorten that timeframe. It brings people up to speed quicker. And not only that, but I think also, you know, technology changes so often. I mean, we’ve got so many things coming at us, to keep pace with what’s happening. You really need to keep on top of your education.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah. You’re absolutely right. I was just gonna say, we were talking about what one of my mentors said, you know, how do you get 20 years experience in the business? He says, come see me in 20 years. It’s very difficult to accelerate that process. So the training and the mentoring is such a big part of helping people and we need that help don’t we?

Martin Redilla:

Yeah, absolutely. It’s essential anymore. It’s become a part of almost every successful corporate culture. If you look at companies like Apple or Google, I don’t think they ever stop moving, you know?

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah. And that whole concept of ongoing, progressive, training and improvement, it all starts with the curriculum. So as someone who’s, you’re the education manager, you’re building different curriculum. Like what subjects are you focusing on? Where do you think people should start when they’re at the beginning of their journey in our industry?

Martin Redilla:

That’s a great question. As I look at it, you know, you try to define what is a good employee look like. You know, if you start at the end and work your way backwards to me, a good employee has a great work ethic. You at least have to have a skill set that they can build upon. And then you need a great attitude. Now, attitude and work ethic are not always the easiest things to learn or train. However, there is a way to do it. And I think if you start early and onboard that person with the right mentality that, hey, this is a growth mindset, it’s a learning culture. I think you have a better chance of achieving those goals.

Jamie Irvine:

That’s interesting that you start there as opposed to, like you said, starting at the end where they have all of the technical knowledge, because the technical knowledge is a, I mean, it’s a huge part of it, but again, to your point, if the attitude isn’t correct, and they’re not a good match to the culture of your company, or even maybe the industry, it’s never gonna work is it?

Martin Redilla:

No, no. Someone with a bad attitude is really like poison to a company. I mean, just starting it out on the right foot. I think that initial 90 day period with a company is critical. You know, things like etiquette, phone skills, manners, I mean, just different things are so important that are often overlooked. They’ll hire someone and say, yeah, I’m a pretty good, you know, mechanic or whatever, and expect them to be a parts person without any kind of social skills. I mean, it’s all about relationships and having those skills to build those relationships, I think is probably the foundation for that kind of success path.

Jamie Irvine:

That makes a lot of sense. You mentioned earlier that one of the driving forces of the need for training is the changing technology. So what are you seeing changing in the future and how is that gonna impact training?

Martin Redilla:

Well, the buzzword currently obviously is electrification.

Jamie Irvine:

Say that 10 times really fast.

Martin Redilla:

I know it’s hard, but no matter what, whether it’s an electrically powered vehicle, adding on all of the, ADAS you know, your advanced driver’s systems, they need much more electrical training. That’s probably one of the big gaps in the industry. People are afraid of it. It’s kind of like this voodoo knowledge. When, you know, when you look at it and present it properly, it can be fairly simple.

Jamie Irvine:

That makes sense. That makes sense. We’re gonna take a quick break. We’ll be right back.

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Jamie Irvine:

We’re back from our break. And before the break we were talking about what’s driving the need for training, how technology is changing our industry. Martin, parts technicians, and repair technicians, there’s a real shortage being felt. And we’ve had some conversations about how much of a shortage is it? Um, is it just the fact that our industry maybe isn’t attracting enough people or is there actually a shortage, but regardless we know that there are a lot of open positions. So are we gonna be able to fill those open positions and is training something that, I mean, it’s obviously a part of it, but is it gonna be enough?

Martin Redilla:

I hope so. A couple things come to mind. First of all, this industry is an amazing industry. I come from the car side and even being very close to a sister company was unaware of how amazing this side of it is. Right? So with my former time with the high schools in auto shop, we had no exposure to the heavy-duty side. People are unaware of it. So how can they make a choice to come into this industry if they don’t even know it exists? It’s like an invisible part of the business. So that’s part one, as far as the technician shortage and all that, again, so you gotta get people aware of it, but then you need to make them interested in part of the second part of that is the culture of how repair shops typically run. They often bring somebody in and just throw ’em out to the field and say, hey, go do your thing. And they sink or swim. And I think that’s changing. I think with education, you have a chance to build a career path for someone. And I think that’s a very big motivator for this next generation up and coming. They wanna see what the opportunity is down the road. And if you show ’em that path, I think you have a much better chance of bringing them on board.

Jamie Irvine:

You know, from the parts perspective, there’s nothing more terrifying than just being thrown on a parts counter. The phone starts ringing, people start coming in the store and you don’t have the knowledge and the training. So I can tell you from the parts side, it’s just as difficult if you don’t get that mentorship in training. Yeah. Okay. So even if we do a better job, which we need to do a better job of attracting young people to the industry, retention is just as an important part of it. From your involvement in the industry, what connections have you seen between training and retaining good people?

Martin Redilla:

Well, when a company invests into your education, I think it gives that employee a sense of value. Like, hey they’re willing to invest into me. That makes me feel good. I’m gonna stay with that company that believes in me more than the company that doesn’t, you know, they invest into the employee. That that’s a great way to keep somebody on board, you know, hey, you’re part of the team you’re valuable. We’re willing to put money into you to make you better. I think that’s kind of the magic thing.

Jamie Irvine:

And it does have a lasting impact. Anybody who’s watched this show, for any length of time, you’ll hear me tell stories of past mentors and I’ve never forgotten the involvement that they had in helping me to succeed in this industry. And so I think you’re absolutely correct. What plans does HDA Truck Pride have on extending the training that they’re offering to the members and to the industry at large?

Martin Redilla:

Well, that’s, that’s a good question. We are actually in the process of getting ready to launch a new learning management system that has the flexibility to extend it out to folks outside of our circle if you will. We can use it for recruitment. We can have folks, loan it to a high school if you will, or gives some limited exposure to some of the trade schools. And I think that kind of increases the awareness, and then also gives them a chance to connect with future employees. Right.

Jamie Irvine:

Right. Well, that’s exciting. You’ve been listening to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. We’ve been speaking with Martin Redilla, the education manager at HDA Truck Pride. To learn more about HDA Truck Pride, head over to HDAtruckpride.com, links are in the show notes. Martin, thanks for being on The Heavy-Duty Parts Report.

Martin Redilla:

My pleasure. Thanks.

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