2002: Superintendent News - Techs explore national role

By Anthony Pioppi

Two turf equipment technicians associations have held discussions on the possibility of forming a national organization for techs.

At an industry-related meeting in April, members of the Turf Equipment Technicians Association based in the Chicago area and WESTECH, a west central Florida group of golf and lawn care equipment techs, met to explore details on bringing all regional turf tech groups under a national umbrella association.

Unlike superintendents, who have the GCSAA, techs have no nationwide network of regional organizations. There are about 10 turf technician associations, with the majority located east of the Mississippi River. There also is a national organization in Australia.

According to Lucky Luchsinger, a member of WESTECH’s board of directors, a national tech organization in the early stages may consist of little more than a magazine for members. The content would be deep in technical information and written by technicians as well as industry insiders such as design engineers.

“They are the guys with the technical experience,” said Luchsinger, part owner of Groomasters of Tampa Bay, a turf care and equipment servicing company.

Luchsinger said there are some obstacles to building a national association for techs, such as finding qualified technicians who could form regional satellites. Another likely complication would be luring people to serve as volunteer board members while holding down their jobs.

Chuck Totten, education director of TETA and technician at Northmoor Country Club in Highland Park, Ill., said the next step is to get all regional associations involved in the formation of a national group.

“The bylaws are set up for a national organization,” Totten said. “We’ve done the groundwork. We don’t want to reinvent the wheel. We need to do this cautiously. We do not want to leave anybody out.”

Totten said he is hoping presidents from some of the regional associations will attend EXPO 2002, scheduled for July 19-21 in Louisville, Ky. The event, sponsored by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, draws a large number of technicians. Totten said the next informal meeting on a national scale would probably take place in February 2003 as part of the GCSAA annual conference and show in Atlanta. “Let’s sit down at a table and work this out,” Totten said. “There is a lot of work to be done.”Together, the Chicago-area and west central Florida groups have about 250 members. Totten said he would like to see a national association start up with about a third of all golf course techs as members.

The two groups met during a conference of the Equipment and Engine Training Council in Minneapolis. The council was established in 1996 to further the education and training of technicians in the outdoor power equipment industry.

The EETC meeting yielded a proposal for a “golf specific certification” test and review guide for reel technology. Original equipment manufacturers have a 60-day review period in which to critique the proposed test.

Luchsinger and WESTECH also are pushing for national certification in reel technology.

Currently, the EETC certifies technicians in six categories: 2- and 4-cycle engines, driveline/hydraulics/hydrostatic, electrical systems, compact diesel engines and generators. According to Luchsinger, superintendents will benefit from a technician certified in reel technology.

“If he gets the reel technology right and if the grass is good, it’s going to be a big difference for the superintendent,” he said.

Luchsinger also is hopeful there eventually will be a certification for sprayer technology. He said it is important for technicians to not only understand such things as spray calibration, but to also realize they are working with dangerous chemicals.

For more information on the formation of a national turf equipment technicians association, call Luchsinger at 813-299-9840.

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