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To view an additional video of Tire Business Reporter Jennifer Karpus' visit to Tech International's new training center an additional video is posted at www.tirebusiness.com/TechInternational
JOHNSTOWN, Ohio—”Teach Each Customer How.” That Tech International tagline is staying in line with the company's mission, highlighted by the opening of a new training facility at its Johnstown headquarters. The new facility, at 3,000 square feet, nearly doubles the size of the old training center located next door.
“We've got a lot of open area, which is good for working on these larger tires.... You can move them around and spread out,” said Billy Johnson, technical trainer at Tech International. In the old facility, it would be cramped working on the OTR tire repairs and students would be working on top of each other. “This facility is really a big step for the training programs we offer here,” he told Tire Business during a recent tour of the new center.
“We've really been able to increase our space in our workshop.... I think it's more conducive to actual learning in the shop because you have that extra space.”
The large open space in the center of the hands-on training room allows for larger tires to be worked on with ease and Tech has ordered some stands for the OTR tires to allow for a safer repairing environment. The new training center has six full work stations for nail hole and section repairs for passenger and truck tires. In addition, six more spreaders are on order, making for 12 work stations in total.
Tech also put in an aluminum air line system in the space with two compressors to constantly provide air flow. Students and staff never have to worry about air pressure running low and, with the powder-coated aluminum line, “we don't have to worry about any type of corrosion getting into the lines,” Mr. Johnson said.
Tech International, a family-owned operation founded in 1939, is a global company with a presence in 14 locations across the world and manufacturing in four countries. Training centers are located in Ireland, Belgium and China in addition to the firm's Johnstown headquarters. “We get people from all over the world in here,” Mr. Johnson said.
Some customers send people to the training facility, while others have Tech International staff members teach at their locations depending on what type of training is needed. “A lot of times with OTR or section repair training, if they want the Tire Industry Association (TIA) training, they end up coming in here for that particular training,” Mr. Johnson said. “A lot of the nail hole repair training that we do, we can just do that at the customer's site.”
If a customer orders new equipment, such as curing repairs on OTR tire equipment, Tech International “will also offer to go out to the customer and install that equipment in their shops and teach them how to use that equipment as well.” With enhancements to the hands-on training, also come enhancements to the facility's classroom. “(It) is a lot more modern than our previous classroom. In the old classroom, we were working with the projector and the screen,” Mr. Johnson said.
To use the whiteboard, for example, required lifting the projection screen up to get to it, he said. The new classroom is equipped with a 70-inch flat screen television for slide presentations and videos. “We can also connect a tablet to that screen to use as a whiteboard,” Mr. Johnson added.
Courses taught have both hands-on and classroom components, with time varying depending on the particular course. OTR/section repair courses tend to be more hands-on, he said, while commercial tire and automotive service courses tend to have a little more classroom time.
Each year Tech hosts, on average, 125-150 people who attend courses in the Johnstown facility and several hundred more at the facilities of its customers. Mr. Johnson and Scott Pinson, Tech International's technical training manager, teach at the facility and all of the company's regional managers are qualified to do training.
They do a lot of nail hole training, Mr. Johnson noted. Most of the firm's distribution network personnel are also accredited to do nail hole training, so its distributors are also providing training for customers. Courses at Tech International range from nail-hole repairs for passenger tires to section repairs for OTR tires. “We have specific classes that cover different subjects.
The classes that we typically offer in here are TIA-based training courses for automotive (tire service) and commercial,” he said. “We combine that course with our nail hole program and TIA's TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) training as well.”
He said the company also does a TIA commercial tire service course at the facility several times a year along with its own curriculum for truck tire section repair and OTR section repair.
Currently, TIA's advanced TPMS-level training is being offered and the company puts a “focus on the particular TPMS items that we supply; the sensors and the service packs, the re-learn tools,” Mr. Johnson said. “We try to gear it specifically toward the items that we offer.”
If a customer needs something else, he said Tech can cater to that as well, but for most courses, the company focuses on the products it sells.
He said Tech keeps a set course schedule but can make additions or changes as needed. For the last several years, the firm has added courses after the initial schedule was posted. Many of the TIA courses run two days while section repair courses typically run three or four days.
“We do have a set curriculum for each class, but if there's something specific that a customer wants to learn while they're here that is maybe not in the curriculum that we have set up, we can always adjust and make sure we include that subject matter for that particular customer,” Mr. Johnson said.
Most customers come in for one specific course, though some will come for multiple sessions. There have been some occasions where people looking to get into the repair business will come in for courses, Mr. Johnson said, but it's mainly customers. Pricing is based on individual courses.
To reach this reporter: [email protected]; 330-865-6143.