EETC celebrates 15th anniversary in grand fashion

By Dave Worden

Despite the uncertainty of the economy and current business climate, the Equipment and Engine Training Council (EETC) celebrated its 15th anniversary with style at its annual conference April 7-9 in Milwaukee, Wis. I am pleased to report that we had a great turnout of teachers, and the workshops presented were well received.

Sponsorship of the conference involved the following companies: Almon Inc., Briggs & Stratton, B3C Fuel Solutions, Echo Inc., Foley United, Marr Brothers, Oregon|Blount Inc. and the Toro Company.

The educators were treated to plenty of workshops presented by Echo Inc., Briggs & Stratton, Oregon|Blount Inc. and Kawasaki. The manufacturers were presented a session on ethanol fuels by B3C Fuel Solutions, and Almon Inc. did a presentation on E-learning and reducing costs.

Keynote Speaker Bruce Radcliff spoke about dealers and their relationship to the association. He also encouraged our accredited schools to reach out to their local dealers and partner with them to continue addressing the critical shortage of qualified service technicians within the outdoor power equipment industry.

And as one of the ongoing programs, the certification committees conducted their annual update meetings. They continued to review the certification tests to keep them current and valuable. There is also continual work on the study guides, which are used to help technicians get ready for the tests. To review the material and keep it relevant is a tremendous undertaking and a job that requires a lot of support.

On the final evening of the conference, we enjoyed a fun-filled reception, which included the presentation of the following awards.

Spirit Award

Bruce Radcliff was one of the founders of the EETC and its second president, succeeding Andy Kuczmar. The unique thing at that time was that while Briggs & Stratton chose an individual direction for its customer service, Bruce embraced the concept of a collective, industry-wide answer to shared problems. He helped to form the EETC and its mission, and he worked tirelessly to establish this lofty goal. After all, we were just a bunch of service guys trying to figure out a way to measure technicians’ skill levels. Bruce gave us his intellect, and his dedication, but he also worked in the trenches to help establish the basic certification tests and school accreditation competencies that we still use today. The EETC would not be as strong, vibrant or influential without Bruce’s input and guidance. It is with great respect and admiration that the Spirit Award for 2011 went to Bruce Radcliff.

Manufacturer of the Year

This company has always been one of the strongest and most dedicated supporters of the EETC. It has adopted the EETC Certification Tests as a benchmark for its dealer network. If ever we need anything at the EETC, this company has always been one of the first to step up and ask, “How can we help?” No matter which side of the company you’re on — commercial or consumer — this company has embraced the mission of the EETC. Our Manufacturer of the Year for 2011 is the Toro Company. Ed Cole accepted the award on behalf of Toro.

Distributor of the Year

When the EETC was desperately looking for more test proctors, our Distributor of the Year not only set up its service manager to give tests, but also set up its entire sales staff to give tests. Most of this was due to the commitment of the service manager; however, he still needed the backing of management and gets it every day. We thank this company for its continued recognition of the value that EETC Certification brings it and its dealers. The Distributor of the Year is Gardner of Florida. Glenn Hamman accepted the award and was asked to convey our deepest thanks to everyone at Gardner.

School of the Year

It is always tough to pick only one School of the Year that has excelled in representing the EETC’s education goals. But this school has risen to the top, despite very challenging economic times, perhaps more challenging than in any other state in our country. The instructor at our School of the Year is a dedicated champion of his students, whether they are enrolled in his college program; attend a local high school where he voluntarily conducts classes and certification tests; or are underprivileged kids, struggling to find a place they can call home. He is that special kind of teacher, and we support and respect all that he does for his community and our industry. Our 2011 School of the Year is the Louisiana Technical College-Lamar Salter Campus. Gary Prichard, the school’s instructor, was unable to attend, but the award was accepted on his behalf by Trence McCoy, who serves on the EETC’s Executive Board and would personally deliver it to Gary.

John Thompson Memorial Service Manager of the Year

Our nominating committee just couldn’t come up with one Service Manager of the Year, so two winners were chosen. It’s kind of like the government, except we compromised and picked both of them.

The first Service Manager of the Year went to a person we like to call “The Quiet One.” He is very unassuming and sometimes you don’t know that he’s there. But he is, and has been a staunch supporter of Technician Certification, including it in his daily routine. We don’t know much more that we can say because, after all, he is “The Quiet One.” The first Service Manager of the Year was presented to Jeff Orman of Medart, Inc.

The second Service Manager of the Year is new to the EETC family, but has picked up the baton and is running with it. For example, at last year’s conference, he not only paid for his own registration, but also felt strongly that a local school should attend the conference as well, and paid its registration so it could be there, too. We were happy to award another Service Manager of the Year award to Chuck Sessoms, Outdoor Equipment Distributors.

President’s Award

The person who is being recognized is someone who has been a very strong supporter of the EETC’s goals and values. When asked to assist with a project, his dedication and effort are unmatched. He makes sure that the information being used, whether it is for a certification test or the by-laws, is accurate and without question. He conducts his service schools with the same conviction. It is because of this type of dedication we were pleased to present Art Marek of RBI Corp. this award.

Director’s Award

The Director’s Award is given each year to the person or people who exceed the expectations of the EETC. I’m deeply honored and extremely humbled to say that EETC Executive Director Jim Roche presented this year’s Director’s Award to yours truly.

“We know that all of our members are volunteers and have regular, heavily stressed jobs for other companies and, in turn, have a limited amount of time to devote to the EETC,” said Roche. “The amount of work that a person does for the EETC is rarely seen by other members, and most of the time, the director is the only one who knows what they have done.

“Dave received the award for his commitment as president of the EETC and devotion to the success of the association. He has worked tirelessly to make sure that the EETC continued its growth within our industry. Whenever asked, Dave found the time in his busy schedule to give to the EETC. Dave is one of the most respected people in our organization and received a standing ovation when his name was announced as the Director’s Award winner for 2011. Personally, I couldn’t have done the work of the association without his strong support and guidance.”

2011-12 EETC board

The EETC also announced its board of directors for 2011-12 at the conference. The Executive Board will consist of President John Chocholak, teacher, California; Vice President Ed Cole, Toro Company; Secretary Kerry Malkerson, Marr Bros.; and Treasurer Jim Letourneau, Foley-United. I will serve as immediate past president.

Other board members will be as follows: Eric Sides, Jacobson-Textron; Tom Moskwa, Kawasaki; Scott Mack, Kohler Company; Earl Miner, Oregon|Blount Inc.; Wes Danielewicz, Turf Equipment Technicians Association (TETA); Brian O’Neil, B3C Fuel Solutions; Ron Jensen, Echo Inc.; Trence McCoy, Louisiana Technical College-Shreveport; Tom Beheler, Hydro-Gear; and David Smith, Rotary Corp.

Jim Roche will continue to serve as the executive director of the EETC.

2012 annual conference

Mark your calendar now for the EETC’s 16th annual conference, which will be held in Dallas, Texas, April 12-14, 2012. We are expecting it to be “bigger and better,” as they say in Texas.

For more information about the EETC, visit

 Dave Worden is the immediate past president of the EETC, as well as program director for SkillsUSA.

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