Sometimes, you may think the day’s been a total waste until someone else comes along and helps you put it all into perspective.
That was the case this week for Rush Truck Center technician Justin Euler. He thought he had more or less blown his chances at winning at the 12th annual Rush Tech Skills Rodeo—that is until he found himself on stage Tuesday night in San Antonio where he was named this year’s Overall Grand Champion.
“I’m kind of awestruck I guess. It was a big surprise,” says Euler, who works at Rush’s St. Peters, Mo. location. “You always try to do your best, and whatever happens, happens. After the first round, I wasn’t sure how I did. The second day, I thought I blew it. So I was really shocked when I heard my name.”
Rush Enterprises CEO Rusty Rush and NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer welcomed Euler on stage and presented him with a trophy along with $18,000 in cash and prizes. Bowyer was joined at the ceremony by his wife, Erin, and their 8-week old son Jackson. They’re all featured below in a photo with Bowyer.
This year’s rodeo, which ended Tuesday at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, marked the fourth trip for Euler, who’s no stranger to the spotlight. In 2014, he was dubbed the Medium-duty Grand Champion.
“It makes you more focused,” Euler says of winning at the rodeo which this year attracted a record 1,400-plus applicants. “But I also try to put it behind me when I get back to the shop, so I can focus on customers. Meeting with suppliers is really helpful, to learn about what’s new and stay on top of the industry. The supplier expo at the Tech Rodeo gets bigger and better every year.”
Euler, who’s been a technician for the past 14 years, says he first became interested in turning wrenches when he started working on a farm at the age of 14. At age 16, he started working as a tire buster and enrolled at the Denver Automotive Diesel College. He worked in the Denver area before moving to Missouri.
Though he’s now got four Tech Rodeos under his belt, he says there’s no real foolproof way to prepare for the competition where techs have 45 minutes to take on three problems, or bugs, that have been arranged by OEM service training managers.
“I don’t think there really is a way to ‘study’ to prepare,” he says. “There are so many bugs out there, you wouldn’t be able to study for everything. But this is what I do every day. If you know the basics, you’re covered.”
As far as plans for all that prize money?
“I need to let it soak in before deciding what to do with the earnings,” Euler says. “You never plan for it. I didn’t go in expecting to win, so I will probably be in shock for another month!”
While Euler is thrilled to be this year’s Overall Grand Champion, he’s ready to get back to work.
“I like the everyday challenges,” he says. “When you’re trying to solve a tough problem for a customer, and then you solve it, it’s so rewarding.”
When asked to offer advice for those thinking of entering the field, Euler says, “I would encourage them to select the right technical school and do their research to find the best program for them. Stay educated on technology, because that is changing every day. If you keep up with technology, and with emissions, you will be good to go.”