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AED Certified Technician Program in Action

Last spring, General Equipment & Supplies Inc., based in Fargo, North Dakota, began using The AED Foundation’s new Certified Technician Program, which allows technicians to earn a professional industry certification by passing an online technical assessment.

To learn how the program is being successfully implemented at General Equipment & Supplies, CED Magazine interviewed Stephen Stafki, vice president of service. Explaining how the company ended up choosing the program, Stafki said, “We have been AED members for over 50 years, so when AED began offering the certification testing, it was a natural fit for us. We just contacted our AED Foundation helper, who was extremely helpful in getting us through the administrative side of the program.”

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General Equipment & Supplies offers equipment by Aggregate Equipment Specialists (AES), Beltway, Eagle Iron Works, ESCO, Fab Tec, KPI-JCI, Lippmann, Magnum, Major Wire, Superior and Terex/Cedarapids Equipment; construction equipment by Gorman-Rupp, JCB, Kobelco KOBELCO, Komatsu, Generac Magnum, NPK, SureStrike, Trail King, and VEI; cranes by Link-Belt cranes; and laser and GPS equipment by Topcon and Trimble. The company provides aggregate equipment, construction equipment, cranes, laser/GPS equipment, and service including parts, repair, and field services that are available to customers 24/7.

Being such a full-service dealership for so many different OEMs, General Equipment & Supplies was looking for a way to standardize the knowledge of their technicians. Stafki told CED that the choice to use the AED program was a no-brainer: “There weren’t any certification programs like this before, other than individual manufacturers and what they would have set up, but this test kind of combines all of the technologies.”

Specifically, the assessment portion of the program evaluates current and future technicians’ knowledge in the subject areas of diesel engines, powertrains, electric/electronics, A/C and heating, hydraulics/hydrostatics, and safety/administration. These six key areas in AED’s standards were created by a task force of 24 equipment technical experts broadly representing AED dealers, equipment manufacturers and technical colleges with equipment programs.

For technicians, the benefits of becoming AED Foundation-certified include the following:

  • Showing your professional commitment
  • Earning recognition for yourself and your dealership, and from your peers
  • Demonstrating that your skills fully align with The AED Foundation’s industry-developed technical standards
  • Proving you can complete equipment repairs properly the first time
  • Investing in your career

 

Stafki described these benefits for technicians and their employers: “This test is a great tool if you are looking to hire a technician that may already have been through schooling and you want to see how much they know. Or if you just graduated high school and are starting at a technical school, the school can give you the test at the beginning and the end of the schooling. The test measures against a broad base of knowledge that is required in the industry as a whole and not just one particular manufacturer.”

Stafki also described some of the efficiencies created through use of the program and the ultimate assessment. While some of these dealership benefits were not readily apparent when General Equipment & Supplies began using the certification program, they quickly found it to be quite the HR tool. “We as a dealership are also using the assessment to see, as a whole, where we may need some improvement in instruction or protocol,” Stafki explained. “Like electrical – if our scores are consistently on the lower side, maybe we will take the technical trainer to a class that really emphasizes that area. That’s how we will be taking this tool to the next step of usefulness.”

While there is no formal education associated with the AED Certified Technician Program, General Equipment & Supplies uses the assessment to guide the annual training of their employees. “All of our employees get at least 40 hours of job orientation training. A lot of techs get 120 or more hours of technical training per year in order to stay on top of the changes in technology that we face every day.”

One of General Equipment & Supplies’ field service technicians, Landon Caughey, weighed in on his own experience with the assessment: “I actually had to take the test twice. I took it once in college and once just recently. I passed it both times, but I wanted to take it again for myself just to see where I was at.” Counting his Komatsu training program, Caughey has been with General Equipment & Supplies for almost five years. He took the test a second time “to see what I could work on, and what I could improve. I also didn’t have the paperwork from the first time, so I wanted to make sure I had that too.”

Caughey told CED, “Taking the test a second time, I learned that there is always room for improvement. I went into that test thinking I knew a lot more than I did coming out of the test. Which is good and bad. It makes you learn the stuff you don’t know, and it shows you and your employer what you do know.”

The entire AED technical assessment process is online, from ordering and test-taking to results reporting. Each customer company is assigned its own online login and password-protected admin area, where all assessment processes can be conveniently accessed and managed at any hour of the day or night. Once test-takers submit the completed assessments, results are immediately available in the admin area. Caughey attested to the speedy release of results. “They went through our vice president of services initially, but he was able to show us our results right away, and if we passed.” AED uses this method so that the company can manage/control this sensitive information, provide feedback to the test-taker, and also include its chosen benchmarking information at the same time, if desired.

Technicians who receive a score of 70 percent or above on the assessment become AED-certified and may purchase a kit that includes a certificate in a wooden frame, a logo hat, a lapel pin, two uniform patches, and tool box decals. “Our technicians are excited to take the test and to get that patch on their uniform,” said Stafki. “Once a technician is certified they get the plaque, they get the hat, and then they get the patch on all their uniforms, which shows that they are willing to take the test and show the rest of the world what they know.”

General Equipment & Supplies goes one step further in recognizing the excellence of their certified service technicians by putting the names of those who have successfully completed the assessment on the “AED tech wall of fame.” The wall is proudly displayed in General Equipment & Supplies’ offices and is a great way to recognize the technicians’ essential contributions to the success of the dealership.

When asked about leaving CED readers with a final thought about the program and the assessment, Stafki responded, “AED really promotes building these types of skills with the technicians that keep the industry moving forward.” He added, “The test is very much a dynamic tool showing a technician’s strengths and weaknesses, but it also brings recognition for the technician in an industry that is trying to hang on to every single person.”

If you are a technician or a dealership wanting to know more about the Certified Technician Program, contact your AED representative at 800-388-0650 or visit www.aedfoundation.org.

 

 

 

 

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