EETC holds upbeat annual conference



Jim Roche, left, presented the EETC’s Distributor of the Year award to Mike Goad, Dixie Sales Company.


Gardner-Florida’s Glenn Hamman, middle, received the EETC’s Service Manager of the Year award.


Brian Kassel, left, Toro, received the President’s Award.


Fox Valley Technical College’s Dale Drees, right, received an Instructor of the Year award from Jim Roche.


Texas State Technical College’s Harry Senn, far right, was a co-recipient of Instructor of the Year.



Dave Worden, middle, DJW Consulting, accepted the EETC’s Spirit Award.By Dave Worden

Despite the economic downturn and the ever-changing face of the outdoor power equipment industry with manufacturers being acquired, merged, and or closing their doors, the Equipment and Engine Training Council (EETC) held an upbeat 13th annual conference April 16-18 in Portland, Ore. The conference was hosted by Oregon Cutting Systems Group, Blount Inc., and Shindaiwa, Inc.

“We thought that we would have a decline in participation for the conference, but we were pleasantly surprised that we had over 75 people attend,” said EETC Executive Director Jim Roche. “Due to the downturn in the economy, it looks like product service support is having an influence in the power equipment industry.”

During the general session, the keynote speaker, Jim Osterman, president &

CEO of Blount International, presented a very enlightening overview of how his company looked at its future and what would be needed to survive in today’s economy. His honesty and direct approach were very well received.

Other highlights of the conference were as follows:

Workshops for early arrivals

The conference featured seminars for instructors to learn about the latest information and technologies. They included the following:

Ron Jensen, Echo, “Oppama PET – 9000 Ignition Tester”
Earl Miner, Oregon Cutting Systems, “Chain Saw Safety & Maintenance
Scott Mack, Kohler Co. Engine Division, “Kohler Bosch EFI System”
Pete Fernald, “Fuel Update”

Manufacturer and educator sessions

Another aspect of the conference was workshops for both the manufacturers and the educators. They were as follows:

“Technical Documentation & Information Reuse,” by Jake Gaylord, Almon, Inc.
“All About Grease,” by Steve Brewer, Schaeffer Mfg. Co.
“Briggs & Stratton Teardown & The Power Channel,” by John Chocholak and Doug Callies, respectively. Briggs & Stratton not only conducted the training, but allowed the instructors to keep the engines that they worked on.

2009-2010 board of directors

Mike Goad of Dixie Sales Company was elected president of the 2009-2010 board of directors for the EETC. He will be joined on the board by Vice

President Dave Worden, DJW Consulting; Secretary John Chocholak, chairman, EETC’s Educational Committee; and Treasurer Jim Letourneau, Foley United. Mike Barnett of Briggs & Stratton will serve as immediate past president.

The remaining board members will be as follows: Eric Sides, Jacobsen/Textron; Eric Gearhart, SkillsUSA; Scott Mack, Kohler Co.; Ed Cole, Toro; Brian Chick, Golden Eagle Distributing; Art Marek, RBI; Mike Hudson, Echo; Dale Drees, Fox Valley Technical School; and Don Koloski, Briggs & Stratton.

Award winners

On the final evening of the conference, the EETC held its annual awards

banquet. The winners were as follows:

Manufacturer of the Year: Echo Inc. For the past 10 years, this manufacturer has quietly supported the EETC with membership and product donations. Ron Jensen accepted this long-deserved award on behalf of Echo.

Distributor of the Year: Dixie Sales Company. It is always difficult to choose one winner for this award as there are many that rise to support the message of the EETC. Dixie Sales received this award because it has been extremely supportive of the association in the area of certification. Mike Goad accepted the award on behalf of Dixie Sales.

Service Manager of the Year: Glenn Hamman, Gardner-Florida. This award was named in memory of John Thompson, who was the service manager for Eagle Distributing, Gilbert, Ariz., and passed away suddenly more than 10 years ago. Thompson was a true leader and all those who knew him wanted to be like him. It is with that thought in mind that the EETC presented this award to another true leader among service managers, Glenn Hamman.

President’s Award: Brian Kassel, Toro. This award is presented by the outgoing president. When the discussion came up about who was deserving of this recognition, there was an immediate response. Brian Kassel bleeds the EETC. He is always there in support and is always willing to take a stand on what is best for the industry and the technician, and is truly a great choice.

School Instructor of the Year: This category again had many contenders, and it came down to two, both of whom provide excellent support of the EETC. This year’s co-recipients were Dale Drees, Fox Valley Technical College, and Harry Senn, Texas State Technical College. Both teachers do not just graduate students — they build leaders.

Spirit Award: This last award was created to honor an individual or company that exceeds or does whatever is necessary in support of EETC. The real shock was that the winner was Dave Worden, the reporter for this article. While honored, I must truly say that the recognition is not necessary. I support an organization that has provided me a living, and it is only fair that I, as they say today, “pay it forward,” and just give back so others can make a living as well. Jim Roche added, “This year’s winner is the Spirit Award. Whenever he is called upon, in whatever situation, Dave drops what he’s doing, and it’s done. Our association has known him for more than 12 years and, in each of those years, Dave has raised the bar for all of us. We are not only a better organization because of him; we are the best because of him.”

School accreditaton update

One of the more important projects for the EETC is school accreditation, and the number of accredited schools has grown to 82, with five more pending. In today’s market, this is still a very vital part of the industry’s future.

Certification testing

One of the changes this year has been in how our certification testing is handled. For years, the association was involved with the Outdoor Power Equipment and Engine Service Association (OPEESA) as a testing and scoring partner. Last year, ARI assumed this responsibility, and Jim Roche was pleased that the certification testing has now exceeded 10,000 technicians! The EETC is looking forward to offering more testing online, and with this year’s emphasis on upgrading the study guides, one can only see that everything is moving onward and upward as it looks forward to the next milestone.

Pleasant surprise

The pleasant surprise of this year’s conference was that in spite of Tecumseh Products shutting down the engine division, Husqvarna acquiring the Peerless division along with RedMax, and Shindaiwa consolidating with Echo, the EETC was still operating in the black and the outlook from those in attendance was guarded optimism. Service work is still going on, and the purchasing of new product is still going to happen; they will just be based on needs as opposed to wants.

 2010 annual conference

Next year’s conference will be held April 7-11 in Greensboro, N.C., where Dixie Sales Company will serve as host. Mike Goad of Dixie Sales mentioned that the conference will have a baseball theme, so it is bound to be a hit.

For more information about the EETC, visit

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