Technicians – how can we thrive without them?

Some of you will know I have been in Hawaii the past few weeks and Marlene and I are having a terrific time. Although we are three hours earlier than at home I am still getting up reasonable early and have had some time for reflection on the business and the Industry.

I have not been in a cocoon here I have been in contact with several people so I have not lost my complete sanity when I wrote the headline for this blog. I truly don’t believe that any dealer any where at any time will thrive without an ambitious and intelligent grooup of talented technicians. I know that I have felt this way for a long time and many of you have heard me make this point before. But it bears repeating now for a few fresh critical reasons.

The new fossil fuel interest. The shale oil developments, fracing techniques, deep well recoveries, natural gas abundance and other exciting things are happening in the oil and gas world. You might wonder what that is going to do to the technicians in our Industry. Well all you have to do is look to our Northern Neighbour, Canada, and you might get an idea. Ft McMurray in Alberta has been a boom town since the 1960’s as a result of the “OilSands” resource. They have wages in that area that will take your breath away. We are seeing similar results in North Dakota. Now the area from San Antonio to Corpus Christi is gaining serious interest. Check out Oklahoma for action. It is starting to be everywhere. Even the EPA can’t seem to stop this strong drive. Between Canada, the US and Mexico the US could satisfy All their oil and natural gas needs for well more than the next hundred years. Of course that is not politically correct these days. Our federal government wants wind and sun power and no more fossil fuels. It appears they are so serious they will kill job opportunities in the process. (Keystone – where for those of you not paying attention that additional oil from Canada is now being shipped by rail and truck which is much more risky than a pipeline) One other comment. The Exxon Valdez oil spill was caused due to us having to ship the Alaskan oil via tankers instead of the pipeline that the envirnmentalists killed at the time.

My point in all of this is that technicians are going to be in shorter supply than they are today in the very near future. The oil and gas industries will take a large number of these talented people and they will do it with higher wages. So I think the message is pretty clear.

Develop your own technicians with good training programs, apprenticeship programs and mentoring programs. Provide a career path that is meaningful and followed for each individual technician. Pay higher wages either with a straight wage or with a strong meaningful incentive program. Manage and supervise the techncians with adequate supervisory density and “good” direct supervision. Operate a “best practices” business unit in service with current and workable tooling and good technological support with tablets and PDA’s and laptops. You have to attract and retain these talented people or you will continue to struggle.

The headline is clear. You need technicians, you need very good technicians if you are going to thrive. The time is now.