Medium-duty trucks are a fixture in our lives and on our roads. From garbage trucks to delivery trucks, medium-duty trucks are an important part of keeping businesses of all sizes up and running. “Whether you’re a plumber and you require the truck to go out and do that, or if you deliver frozen food and the truck helps you do that. Their trucks are a part of what they do. They’re the job,” Shaun C. Skinner, president, Isuzu Commercial Truck of America, Inc. said in this NADA video.
Headquartered in Anaheim, California, Isuzu Commercial Truck of America, Inc., is the distributor of Isuzu commercial vehicles in the United States. With a lineup that ranges from Class 3 to Class 6 and includes diesel, gasoline, LPG and CNG engines, Isuzu commercial trucks have been some of the bestselling trucks in America since they entered the market in 1984. In 2018, Isuzu sold 23,914 Isuzu-brand trucks in the U.S., a new record.
Keeping Up with Demand
Not surprisingly, medium-duty trucks take a beating and keeping them on the road requires the specialized skills of highly trained service technicians. However, there is a shortage of skilled service technicians across the auto industry. While 39,000 new service techs graduate from U.S. career technical colleges and training programs each year, another 76,000 techs leave the industry each year, leaving a shortfall of about 37,000 trained techs, according to NADA estimates.
“All of us here try to get out and see as many dealers as we can and one of the things we hear consistently are concerns for the shortage of technicians right now,” Skinner said.
The service technician shortage is exacerbated by the wide range of skills needed in today’s highly technical, highly computerized service bays. “Days gone by, it used to be you had to be a good mechanic. Nowadays, you have to be a good mechanic but you also have to understand computers. You also have to be part artist to figure out the blend of the two,” Skinner noted.
That’s why in 2016, Isuzu Commercial Truck of America opened its world-class Center of Excellence Training and Technical Assistance Facility in Northeast Pennsylvania. The state-of-the-art, 130,000 square foot complex includes a parts distribution center, a technical assistance facility and a training center where future service technicians receive intensive, hands-on technical training at Isuzu Truck University.
Building on that success, Isuzu opened a second Center of Excellence in Anaheim, California in 2017. To date, both facilities have graduated more than 1,800 certified technicians who have gone on to careers at dealerships across the United States. “At Isuzu, we felt it was important to create some very solid systems, facilities … and get some high-quality professional training on our Isuzu products,” said Micah Embry, executive director, Center of Excellence Operations. “So we invested in two facilities, and with that we’ve really grown the ability to sufficiently train our technicians.”
Helping Others is a Job Well Done
Those who graduate from the Center for Excellence are almost guaranteed to have a job right away, Skinner said. “I think that what a lot of people may misunderstand is how rewarding it can be, from a financial point of view and just I think from a job security and job rewards point of view, too.” The rewards are more than just financial, Skinner explained. “You can help people in more ways than you might even imagine because it isn’t just fixing the truck, you’re fixing something that’s critical to that person’s success,” he said.
In fact, a lot of dealers are even willing to sponsor a future technician’s education, Skinner explained. “Go talk to one of the local area dealers. I’m sure you can find someone to sponsor you through it and they would love to have you do something like that,” he said. “And I think that longer term it would be a great career choice.”