Mike Stotler, Thomas Built Buses’ service training manager, said with conviction: “Training is the key.” And Stotler, who is recognized in the industry as a leader in the service training area, knows what he’s talking about. He’s responsible for Thomas Built’s Train the Trainer program, the Thomas Built Institute and on-site training at dealerships.
Thomas offers a robust array of resources, including on-line info and wiring diagrams, but the star in its service training lineup is the Thomas Built Institute. Launched in 2009, the program was designed to bring fleet managers and technicians up to speed on the latest in bus best practices. Participants will get hands-on training and up to 28 credit hours in less than a week on subjects such as product updates, EPA emissions technologies, electrical systems, web tools, etc.
Sessions are held annually near High Point, N.C., where the company is headquartered, as well as on the road. With the exception of the factory tours that are a highlight of the training held in North Carolina, the roadshow version is nearly identical. Both have small classes (no more than 20 people in each). All of the attendees stay at the same hotel and, in the classroom and after hours, share information and experiences, learning from each other as much as from the class, creating a network with other technicians, and building relationships.
Ken Hedgecock, Thomas Built Buses’ vice president of sales, marketing and service, said that he hears from loyal TBB customers that the Thomas Built training program play a key role in their decisions to purchase Thomas Built buses. “Thomas is a leader in teaching our customers how to maintain their own vehicles, and how to do it quickly and efficiently. Our dealers know what they’re doing and they know the information is never far away. Our program is a huge benefit to our customers because it allows us to offer factory-level training to more customers and technicians than any other bus manufacturer.”