How do you retain good mechanics?

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“Treat them very well and you have to respect them, praise them and give them very good working conditions. Pay them well, but not on the top of the list. Listen to what they have to say. Provide them with a challenge. And most importantly, make sure that you are a success. They want to be part of a success.”

Stephen Sabo, director of maintenance
Norrenbern Truck Service, Nashville, Ill.

“You have to treat them fairly and give them good working conditions. For all your people that do a good job, you need to offer them training so they see a mode of progression within the company.”

Mike Blackstock, account executive
Atlantic Inland Carriers Inc., Americus, Ga.

“You have to have a flexible schedule and workable weekends. If they have a fishing tournament or a birthday party, you have to let them go. We’re very flexible with their work schedule. We have a swing shift and if one needs to work in the evenings one week we rotate their hours. The pay is low here in Wisconsin; it’s not like the larger cities, so you have to be flexible.”

Jim Peter, vice president
E.J. Peter Trucking Inc., Athens, Wis.

“We have really good mechanics. They’re good people, and they work hard. It’s not about the pay, that’s for sure. You keep good mechanics by treating them as part of the team and listening to their feedback. We’re a pretty small company so we send big repairs to outside vendors. We don’t offer them a lot of training, but we involve them in our safety board. They give input as far as accidents and causes, and what our maintenance policy may or may not be lacking. We involve them in our decision making.”

David Price, trucking manager
Dyno Nobel Transportation, Salt Lake City

“It can be difficult if your company is not competitive in your area with concern to wages and benefits. We update our package on a regular basis to make sure we stay competitive. Anything you can offer beyond that is to your advantage, whether it be flexible hours and shifts, a good working environment, training or a bonus package. I believe training helps retain good people and benefits your company.”

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Ed Boes, terminal manager
D&D Sexton Inc., Carthage, Mo.

“We’ve had the same mechanic for quite a while. Actually we only have one mechanic. We get him the tools he needs, the working conditions he needs, and we get him the trucks to work on when they’re due for service. His pay is above scale and his benefits are above scale, and his work hours are flexible. We have an open door policy with myself if he needs anything or has any concerns. He also has 100 percent say in what is fixed and what is not fixed and what parts we use.”

Frank Lamer, CEO
Poling Transportation, Omaha, Neb.

“We pay them a good wage and all the benefits and give them vacation holidays, a 401(k) and flexible working hours. That’s mainly how we’ve kept them. Also, we have suppliers, like Caterpillar engines that offer training schools. We send them to school, and it seems to help. We’ve been really fortunate. We’ve not had a big turnover in the shop.”

Robert A. Schmit, vice president.
Paul J. Schmit Trucking Inc., Sussex, Wis.

“We only have two, but we’ve had them awhile. It’s your personal relationships with them that matter. I’m really easy going on them. They’re not the highest paid in the valley, but I do retain them.”

Dave Billing, president
Billing Trucking Services Inc., Allentown, Pa.

“It is a challenge from a management point of view, but candidly the way we retain good mechanics is to maintain a fair compensation package, keep fair benefits and by allowing them to manage repairs and maintenance of the fleet in the way that they decide is the most economical. We do not try and micromanage. Our maintenance manager has been with Dollar Transportation for probably 15 or 16 years. We have a lot of confidence in our shop manager’s ability to know what is important to keep up with technology. We afford them any continuing education that our shop manager deems necessary to keep up with technology and reduce our maintenance costs.”

Tom Sturgeon, transportation manager
Dollar Transportation Inc., Hennessey, Okla.