That’s highly debatable. In 2003, Jeffress received TMC’s highest honor, the Silver Spark Plug, for his involvement and contributions, which included serving as chairman of study groups and chairman of meetings. As TMC chairman in 2004, Jeffress made technician development a major theme of his tenure and was a strong proponent of TMC’s new Professional Technician Development Committee. Among the initiatives was creating a special TMC membership category for technicians. And Jeffress also was a driving force behind TMC’s popular national technician skills competition, known as TMCSuperTech, held each year in conjunction with the TMC fall meeting.
Working closely with TMC members Carl Tapp, Lee Long and Jim Robertson, Jeffress lobbied TMC leaders to fund and establish the national competition, working to line up sponsors, establish prizes and encourage fleets to participate. In 2005, the competition came to life when 74 technicians showed up in Valley Forge, Pa., to compete.
“We are so proud of what the technician competition has become,” Jeffress says. “We’ve seen it grow and evolve to the point where it is the centerpoint of TMC’s fall meeting. And it’s just so great we’ve developed a national stage to recognize the incredible job these skilled technicians do every day in our industry.”
Another TMC achievement during Jeffress’ tenure as chairman was the introduction in 2004 of the TMCFleetPortal, an information exchange tool that provides one-stop access to all of a fleet’s parts- and maintenance-related information, leveraging TMC’s Vehicle Maintenance Reporting Standard (VMRS). He also cites the development of a recommended practice on towing.
Industry colleagues heap great praise on what Jeffress has accomplished in a relatively short period.
“I do not believe the Professional Technician Development Committee and the national technician competition that TMC now hosts every year would have been as successful as it is without Mike’s vision and leadership,” notes David Foster, vice president of maintenance for Southeastern Freight Lines and 2004 Career Leadership Award recipient. “He was very passionate about making this program work at TMC, and I do not believe it would have happened without Mike’s guidance.”
Carl Kirk, vice president of maintenance, information technology and logistics for the American Trucking Associations, agrees that Jeffress “was definitely the driving force” behind TMCSuperTech. “Technology is changing at an unprecedented pace, which is placing increased demands on today’s technicians,” Kirk says. “The Europeans have long recognized heavy-truck technicians as professionals. The U.S. is not quite there yet. Mike’s efforts in helping to launch the SuperTech initiative is a major step in bestowing the recognition upon today’s technicians that they truly deserve. He has also given unselfishly of his time and talents in numerous TMC task forces that have helped move this great industry forward.”
Oren Summer, president and chief executive officer of FleetNet America and the 2005 Career Leadership Award recipient, says Jeffress conducts himself in a consistently professional manner. “He has the ability to get things done by the tone of voice and the magnitude of his desire and commitment. A true gentlemen, husband and father, Mike Jeffress is truly deserving of the CCJ Career Leadership Award, and there is no doubt that he will wear this badge proudly as a fraternity member of an elite group.”
Today, when he’s not busy helping Maverick or TMC expand, Jeffress usually can be found with Lynn and their three children, Nikki, Stephanie and Dustin. Jeffress knows he’s been blessed in his life with mentors stepping forward at crucial times, and he tries to give back to the community today by taking an active role in coaching youth sports teams and working hard to give his children the same type of close-knit family upbringing he enjoyed.
Jeffress’ ultimate boss at Maverick Transportation sums up his career well. “Mike has achieved success with pure unbridled determination built on a foundation of common sense,” says Steve Williams, president and CEO. “He has the compassion to share and teach others around him on his journey, which defines him as a leader.”
From student to teacher
“I cannot recall how many Career Leadership Award banquets I have attended, but I can tell you each year I have sat in that audience and thought, ‘What would I say if I were the chosen one?’,” began Mike Jeffress in accepting the 2010 CCJ Career Leadership Award. “You know, I should have written some of those thoughts down. That would have made this so much easier.”
Jeffress, vice president of maintenance for Little Rock, Ark.-based Maverick Transportation, accepted the award Feb. 8 at a dinner held in his honor in conjunction with the Technology & Maintenance Council’s annual meeting in Tampa, Fla. About 170 TMC members attended the 2010 Career Leadership Award dinner, which was sponsored by Bridgestone Bandag Tire Solutions, Citgo Lubricants, Cummins and Roadranger.
Jeffress credited his numerous mentors, including previous Career Leadership Award recipients, of whom 11 were in attendance. He noted that the award signifies a change in his career from one of student to one of teacher and mentor.
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