GALLERY: A glimpse at Inland Truck Parts’ new training center

It’s as impressive as it is innovative. And unique.

Opened in late 2013, the dedicated training center at Inland Truck Parts is one of a kind in the independent aftermarket. The 15,000-sq.-ft.-facility is the crown jewel of the company’s 10-state Midwestern network. And with nearly 30 locations, that’s saying something.

But for the people who built it, the training center is more than just the shinest new facility. It’s a resource, and a differentiator in the marketplace.

“I don’t know anyone else [in the independent aftermarket] who has one,” says Dave Scheer, Inland’s CEO.

Operating a dedicating training center is something Inland’s management has aspired to have for some time.

“Dave was sold on the idea from the beginning,” says President Greg Klein. “A lot of us were.

“But first we had to identify where we could build it, and how we would design it to make it work.”

Those key questions were answered when the company was able to purchase a service center five minutes from its Olathe, Kan., facility, and less than 20 minutes from its Overland Park, Kan., headquarters.

At the time of the sale Klein says Inland’s first Olathe facility was already growing, so the company transfered the service business from the purchase to its existing facility and set out renovating its newest location.

Designing and constructing the training center was cumbersome — renovations were halted once to expand the facility when it was determined more space was needed — but the end result has been more than worth it, Scheer says.

More than 180 technicians have been trained at the facility in 2015, and there are still nearly a dozen courses scheduled before the end of the calendar year. Staffed by two-full time trainers (Alan Cochran and Rick Smith), the facility is equipped with six work stations each for driveline, manual and Allison automatic transmission courses, a trio of conference rooms that can seat up to 95 people and a two-bay shop with three trucks Inland has purchased for hands-on training.

Cochran and Smith set the curriculum. The duo will teach more than 50 courses by the end of 2015, and hope to add 3-4 new courses next year. And in addition to the hands-on training opportunities the facility provides, Cochran and Smith also produce lectures and wookbooks for each class, the latter of which techs are encouraged to retain when they return home.

The latter is important, Scheer says, because the training center was built exclusively for the Inland team. No outside technicians have access to the facility, he says, and with the exception of a few ‘beginner’ classes for new techs all courses are voluntarily. Technicians choose what they want and need to learn, and Inland brings them to Olathe to provide them that knowledge.

It’s all part of the company’s commitment to its customers, and investment in its future, says Scheer.

“We want to be known as a professional operation,” he says.

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