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Caterpillar Technicians Showcase Their Knowledge and Skill at Tech Wars 2022

by: Jessica Hoover
Six Caterpillar dealers from across the U.S. assembled and prepared teams of their most skilled technicians for Tech Wars 2022, recently hosted by Butler Machinery Company in Fargo, North Dakota. Tech Wars is a dealer program that recognizes the knowledge and abilities of technicians through a series of skills scenarios.

The dealers that competed this year included Riggs CAT, HOLT CAT, Ziegler CAT, Warren CAT, Mustang CAT, and Butler Machinery Company. The dealers competed in four divisions (truck, power generation, industrial engines, and machine), and within each division there were three hands-on skills scenarios and a written assessment. The two top technicians in each division won a trophy and prize money: $7,000 for first place and $3,500 for second place.

“This event really helps reinforce the importance of the technicians to the CAT dealer network and that they are the secret to the success of the CAT dealer,” said Ben Wasserburger, Director of Service at Butler Machinery Company. “These technicians challenge themselves, and you see the growth of them through that process. As we repeat this year over year, we’re starting to see tremendous growth in these technicians and their abilities to challenge themselves way further than what they would have ever done without this program. Many of them have now gone on to take on higher roles within the dealerships.”

Skills Scenarios Replicating Real-Life Experience
A technical team comprised of experts within the participating dealerships developed the hands-on skills scenarios to duplicate field conditions as closely as possible. Wasserburger said that using real-life situations builds and instills confidence in the technicians to take what they have learned back into the workplace to use on a day-to-day basis.

“An engine or machine is bugged by the skills team, and then the technicians come in and they have to find the issue within 60 minutes,” said Rebecca Rensvold, Training and Development Manager at Butler Machinery Company. “It’s repeatable; they have validated it hundreds of times to confirm that every single time a technician walks up, whatever they encounter is going to be the same thing.”

Cale Homuth, Customer Experience Specialist at Butler Machinery Company, said that the technical team runs every possible variation of troubleshooting that the technician could pursue in order to better score the scenario.

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“It was an interesting dance to keep the skills scenario complex enough to be challenging, but also basic enough to prevent there being 50 rabbit holes to chase down,” Homuth said.

Light-Hearted Competition with RC Trucks, Bean Bags, and Drones
Along with the more rigorous skills scenarios, Tech Wars gave dealers the chance to compete in an RC truck building competition, a bean bag tournament, and a drone competition. The drone competition had technicians weaving in and out of obstacles and speeding through the course toward the finish line.

“Individuals are able to build the drones from parts, make some small modifications, and then basically run a course with different maneuvers, like figure eights, around course obstructions,” Homuth said. “There are points subtracted for crashes, and you can gain bonus points for cutting tape at the end and landing on the little helipads. This was more of a stress-relieving activity in contrast to the other situations.”

The RC truck pull was a fan-favorite, with the technicians being judged for the design and paint job on their trucks as well as seeing whose truck could pull a weight the farthest.

“Part of what makes the RC truck pull so fun is the fact that this is the one event where all of the dealers participate at the same time,” Homuth said. “Everything else – the skills scenario, the drones – are the individual groups doing their thing and getting scored. For the RC pull, we’re going to pull all these guys together and they get to cheer their team on as it happens.”

The Future of Tech Wars
New to Tech Wars this year was a Sportsmanship Award in honor of Dave Howard Jr., who dedicated over 10 years of his life to Riggs CAT. The award is given to an individual who has a positive attitude, is a role model, and commits to team performance over individual success, along with other criteria.

“In 2021, one of our dealers lost one of their participants to COVID-19,” Wasserburger said. “Howard was a great individual, and he exemplified Tech Wars and what it was it about. So we created that sportsmanship award, and that will be a new award going forward in future events.”

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Tech Wars 2022 hosted 40 technicians across the six dealers, but Wasserburger hopes to expand the competition to even more CAT dealers and technicians throughout the United States.

“We would like to see this continue to grow to other regions and other dealers,” Wasserburger said. “Our hope someday is for those winners to go on to a national-level event to truly be the best CAT dealer technician in the U.S.”

“We want to thank Butler for putting on a great show this year,” said Ben Maurer, Marketing Project Manager at Ziegler CAT. “We had a blast, and they have gone above and beyond in what they put together. They are setting a high bar for the rest of us as we trade off in hosting the event.”

Tech Wars 2022 Winners
Truck Division
  • First Place: Joe Byrne, Ziegler CAT
  • Second Place: Clayton Johnson, Warren CAT
Power Generation Division
  • First Place: Corey Dorhout, Butler CAT
  • Second Place: Brad Anderson, Ziegler CAT
Machine Division
  • First Place: Justin Sommerfeld, Mustang CAT
  • Second Place: Jake Leritz, Ziegler CAT
Industrial Engines Division
  • First Place: Josh Poe, HOLT CAT
  • Second Place: Hortencio Avalos, HOLT CAT

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Your local Wirtgen America dealer
Brandeis Machinery
Your local Wirtgen America dealer
Brandeis Machinery