It really can work
By Denise L. Rondini, Executive Editor
Back in November of last year I wrote about Northwood University’s Aftermarket Management degree program and the fact that each student in that program is required to complete an internship before he or she can graduate.
I want to share with you one story I heard about how successful this experience can be for the student and the business.
Dick Sweebe is president of the Diamond Companies, which owns multiple truck dealerships in Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas and Tennessee.
Dick decided to contact Northwood and hire an intern for the summer. And like many of you Dick has employed young people during the summers, he wanted to make sure this was more than just a summer job.
He tasked the parts manager at his Memphis location, Ricky Hall, with setting up an on-going program where Marquis Ragland, the young man who accepted the internship, would learn about the various parts of the dealership’s parts operation.
He started out riding with the parts delivery guys, moved to shipping and receiving and then over to counter sales.
Each week Marquis was required to write a report of his observations.
During his time in the shipping and receiving area he noticed the folks there were not getting the recognition they deserved. Ricky challenged Marquis to come with an incentive program, and after some tweaking allowed him to run it.
Imagine how exciting that must be for a young kid still in college to be able to make a real difference in an on-going business.
Will one of you be there next summer to give another student the opportunity?
When I spoke to Ricky about having an intern work for him he said one of the best things that came out of the experience was that he got a fresh set of eyes to look at what was going on in the parts department on a day-to-day basis.
“Every week he brought me an outside view into the running of our business. I told him I wanted to hear from him where he thought we were failing,” Ricky says. “And every week he brought in different things to say maybe we are not giving the best customer service in this area. This gave me the opportunity to determine what we could do to make it better.”
But the dealership was not the only one to benefit from this experience. Our industry as a whole stands to gain.
Before working at the dealership, Marquis told me his interests were strictly automotive. “Prior to coming here, I didn’t know what opportunities were out there in trucking,” he says.
And best of all he told me that when he gets back to Northwood “I think they might have to try really hard to swing me back to the automotive side. I really do enjoy it here and I would strongly recommend it to others.”
After he graduates in 2013, Marquis says, “I would love to keep going in the trucking industry. I am really hoping to get more exposure and see more opportunities and develop an all around knowledge of the industry so I feel like I can be in this industry.”
Score one for trucking.
You and I already know what a great industry this is; now we have one more convert who can spread the word.
At the end of the summer, Marquis is heading back to Northwood for his senior year. I am guessing he will talk about his experience at the Diamond Companies with his classmates. Maybe what he says will spark an interest in one of them.
If so, will one of you be there next summer to give another student the opportunity to see what a great future there is in the truck parts and service market?
And, if not you, then who?