There are 70 countries with Volvo truck dealers, so Volvo mechanics hold their own version of the Olympics. This year, donning the Team Canada jerseys are four master technicians from Prince George.
Matthew Giesbrecht, Dan Orser, Clarence Oosterhoff and Tyler Kronebusch are the certified master technicians in the back shop at Babine Truck and Equipment, the city's Volvo and Mack truck headquarters. They worked together to pass the first three rounds of qualifying in the tournament-style competition. Those three rounds were online theory-based problem solving exercises.
The Babine crew rose to the top and are now representing all of Canada at the North American championship in March. They will travel to Greensboro, North Carolina to face off against four other teams from the United States. The winner of this hands-on round will go to the world championship in Volvo's base country of Sweden where 30 teams do their best work for the world title.
"When you think about all the Volvo truck dealerships in Canada and across North America, we are one of the very small ones, but we do very good work so it is nice to be recognized," said Babine's general manager Ed Adema.
"It's good to see how you stack up against the others in your field. It's a competition, but it's really about training and getting better at your job," said Orser.
"We knew we had a good chance," said Oosterhoff, with more than bravado behind his words. "B.C. is considered a good place to learn if you work on trucks, because of the weather conditions here and the hard terrain. There's a big mix of highway driving, off-highway driving, those logging roads and mining roads can be really nasty, so we see what comes in for repair."
Giesbrecht is the company's training co-ordinator. He said the point of the competition was framed as a challenge but it was not lost on any of the competitors that being better at your job was the underlying point, and to ensure that a uniform level of service existed across the world for the multinational company.
"We work on these trucks all the time, so being competent in your workplace is your rehearsal," he said. "It's not just having the head knowledge, you have to know where look for information when something comes in to you you've never seen before. No one can know it all, but you have to be fast and skilled at looking up what you don't know when you're suddenly faced with it."
They will be presented with real trucks preprogramed with real problems in North Carolina, Giesbrecht explained "and we will have to see if we can figure out mechanical problems before the other guys do - diagnosing and repairing."
The last two years in a row, the North Carolina event has been won by the Canadian team but the Babine crew has already gotten past them. On March 11 they get to see if they can surpass the other North America challengers as well.