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Penske Truck Leasing to Participate in 2016 SkillsUSA Conference

Shawn Teal goes to work each day not knowing what puzzle he'll need to solve. As lead technician at Penske Truck Leasing's location in Fargo, North Dakota, he needs to be ready to determine issues that may affect trucks to get them back into service and keep them on the road as efficiently as possible.


"There's a different challenge every day," Teal said. "The best part of Penske is the variety we have here."

Since Penske Truck Leasing provides comprehensive fleet maintenance, his broad experience served Teal well when he was competing in the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference last year. Having won the Minnesota state competition, he was competing in hands-on tests against top diesel technician students from across the country.

At each station, he said, "you look to the left and to the right, and you don't know if the other students know more or less than you do, but you do your best."

"Don't let it intimidate you, because the competition does get intense," Teal said. "It's fun at the same time, if you like a challenge."

Penske will be participating in this year's SkillsUSA national competition, reaching out to technicians like Teal to reinforce the importance of their work to the industry and to promote the career opportunities that are available.

SkillsUSA will be held June 20 to 24 in Louisville, Kentucky. This year, Penske will be providing six trucks for the competition floor and will be working with Detroit Diesel in judging the truck diagnostics portion of the diesel competition.

SkillsUSA is a national organization serving teachers and high school and college students who are preparing for careers in technical, skilled and service occupations. As part of the national conference, more than 6,000 students who were state champions participate in hands-on competitions in more than 100 trade, technical and leadership fields.

"These students are the best of the best in their skilled trade," said Rick Labadie, a recruiting supervisor for Penske. He added that by helping with judging during the competition, "We get to see firsthand how they perform. They have to troubleshoot the issue, whatever bug we put on the truck."

Teal remembered the diagnostic portion of his competition at SkillsUSA last year: "I blew through that one!" He said he was well prepared because he had been working at Penske since 2013, while also attending Minnesota State Community and Technical College.

Penske Recruiter Randy Kilbourne, left, and Recruiting Supervisor Rick Labadie were on hand to discuss diesel technician career opportunities at the 2015 SkillsUSA conference.

"You learn twice as fast," Teal said, explaining that when he went to work each day, he would see the real-world application of the things he was learning. Teal graduated in May 2015 and went on to place sixth in the diesel competition at the 2015 SkillsUSA. Since joining Penske in 2013, he's been promoted several times and is now lead technician at Penske in Fargo.

Recruiting supervisor Labadie said SkillsUSA is a good forum to promote these types of career opportunities to students and to demonstrate the importance of the skilled trades. In addition to diesel technicians, SkillsUSA features a wide variety of careers, including electronics, computer-aided drafting, precision machining, medical assisting and culinary arts.

"You get students that are there with their families. They're cheering on their brother or sister," Labadie said. "That's our next generation of people coming into our industry. It's an opportunity to build relationships with students and schools."

Penske will be an exhibitor at booth S86/S88 -- just across from the diesel competition -- from June 21 through 23. There will be drawings for prizes such as a Snap-on toolbox, Apple Watches and gift cards. This year will be Penske's fourth at SkillsUSA. For anyone who isn't able to visit the booth, there is information about Penske's diesel technician and other career opportunities at www.gopenske.com/careers.

By Steve Trapnell

Check out these videos to learn more about diesel technician and management careers at Penske:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqfsp91WZ9M