Titan Machinery: Developing trained service technicians
Titan Machinery: Developing trained service technicians
11/01/2012

Titan Machinery’s educational partnerships help fill a need

Titan Machinery in West Fargo, N.D., has taken a proactive approach to finding needed service technicians to support the company’s growth.

About eight years ago, the founders of Titan Machinery worked with the Case New Holland (CNH), an equipment manufacturer, as well as other CNH dealers and the Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Moorhead, Minn., to develop the original “Forging the Future” diesel service technician training program.

“An equipment dealership is built on customer service. If a dealership cannot provide customer service in the areas of sales, parts and service, it cannot be successful. As a dealership, you are selling the whole goods. To support the sales of those whole goods, you must have best-in-class service and parts departments,” says Bob Moe, senior recruiting specialist with Titan Machinery.

“One of the key employees of any dealership and probably one of the first areas of customer service is the service technician. Nationally, as a group, service technicians are aging. In order to have a pool of well-trained, qualified service technicians to support the sales of the dealership, there needed to be a program that would attract young people to go into the service technician career as a profession,” Moe says.

That company’s partnership program with the Minnesota State Community and Technical College became so successful that there are now four other Forging the Future partnership schools:

  • Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown, S.D.
  • Parkland College in Champaign, Ill.
  • Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology in Okmulgee, Okla.
  • Olds College in Olds, Alberta, British Columbia, Canada.

However, as Titan Machinery grew — now with 98 dealerships in the United States alone, 37 of which are either stand-alone rental operations or those that offer rental and retail services, as well as 10 dealerships in Bulgaria and Romania — many locations weren’t in close proximity to these partnership schools. Titan then created “Team Up with Titan,” a program that allows dealerships to work with schools in their area that offer a two-year Associates in Applied Science (AAS) degree diesel technology program.

Both programs offer students who are sponsored by a dealership the same type of benefits:

  • Tools and toolboxes required for the program.
  • Uniforms.
  • Paid internships.
  • Scholarships for both years of school.
  • Employment during the summer break between the first and second years and then for at least two years following graduation as a full-time, fully benefited service technician, subject to dealership performance reviews.

According to Moe, Titan dealerships are actively involved in both the Forging the Future partnership and Team Up with Titan schools, from providing equipment for the students to work on to offering presentations and serving on school advisory boards.

“There is constant communication and interaction with instructors, and the schools provide the dealerships information on how the students are progressing,” Moe says.

Students are taking notice of these programs and the career opportunities they present. “During the past four years, we have averaged 80 to 100 students a year in our sponsorship programs that include both the Forging the Future and Team Up with Titan schools. I have more students contacting me all the time, more than we are able to accommodate. We even have a waiting list of students for this year and for two years from now,” Moe says.

The programs, he says, are fulfilling the needs of Titan Machinery and its customers. “This is the long-term solution to having well-trained, qualified diesel service technicians to provide customer service for our customers,” he says.

“We need highly trained, intelligent, technology-savvy service technicians who have great communication skills. Through the Forging the Future and the Team Up with Titan sponsorship programs, we are developing our own trained service technicians to allow us to continue to provide excellent customer service,” he says.


ARA Foundation offers scholarships for service technician education

The need for a continuing supply of highly skilled service technicians prompted Titan Machinery, West Fargo, N.D., to form training partnerships with various colleges. However, Titan Machinery isn’t the only company in search of good service technicians. The demand is high throughout the entire equipment rental industry, making this a potential career choice for students.

The ARA Foundation also has made achieving the education needed to be successful one of its priorities through its vocational/technical scholarship offerings.

“The ARA Foundation offers 10 scholarships of $1,000 each for technical/vocational applicants,” says Jenni Venema, ARA Foundation director of development. “These funds can really make a difference. Plus, if you combine this scholarship with those offered by companies such as Titan Machinery, students can have a large percentage of their school costs covered. That is a tremendous benefit to those who want a service technician or related career in the equipment rental industry,” she says.

Those technical/vocational scholarships are part of the $62,000 worth of scholarships offered for the 2013-2014 academic year by the ARA Foundation and affiliate associations.

“Thanks to the generosity of those in the equipment rental industry, the ARA Foundation and its affiliated associations will be able to once again offer students who are associated with the equipment rental industry a record number of scholarships to help them achieve their educational goals,” Venema says. “Pursuing an education is expensive. I am so proud that we will be able to offer much-needed  assistance to deserving students who will be the future leaders of our industry.”

Applications are open to students who:

  • Meet all eligibility requirements.
  • Are connected with an equipment rental business or equipment rental manufacturers/suppliers.
  • Have plans to remain in the industry upon graduation.

Students can apply online by going to ARAfoundation.com and selecting “Foundation Scholarship Program.” For more information,
contact Venema at 800-334-2177, ext. 236, or jennifer.venema@ararental.org. All applications are due March 2, 2013.