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The AEMP Education Foundation Technician of the Year: Award Process and Meet the Judges

Thursday, February 1, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: AEMP
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Every year, the Association of Equipment Management Professionals (AEMP) celebrates the dedication, hard work, and professionalism of the skilled technicians that keep both public and private fleets running. The AEMP Education Foundation Technician of the Year Award, sponsored by John Deere Construction & Forestry, is an annual tribute that honors an individual who exemplifies the heavy equipment profession’s best technician. All nominees share these attributes: a commitment to excellence, dedication to professional growth, a willingness to help fellow workers, innovative thinking, a pledge to safety, and professional presence.

AEMP would like to thank our 2018 Technician of the Year Judges. These judges took the time to review multiple applications and access each candidate in multiple areas, including professional experience, education, certification, innovation, leadership, and safety.

Meet the 2018 Technician of the Year Judges

Ben Benuck
Ben is a go getter!  Rumor has it he completed both the EMS course and the exam in record time, with record scores.  Smarty Pants Ben started his career in the military as a machinist for the United States Army.  He worked on submarines at Pearl Harbor and then “landed” at Fort Hood, TX, as a helicopter crew chief working on Black Hawks.

After his military service, Ben worked at HOLTCAT in Austin, TX as a heavy equipment mechanic. Ben now lives in Jarrell, TX, and works as the Service Manager for Lonestar Crushers, where he is responsible for $30 million worth of equipment. Clearly, Ben is a rising star and an AEMP University success story, with plans to also ace the CEM course, become an equipment manager, and win the coveted Fleet Master award very soon!  Thank you for being a judge this year, Ben!

Jack Butler
Let’s start with the important stuff.  Jack Butler is an expert, award winning, Olympic caliber water skier.  Matter of fact, we are expecting him to do a demonstration for us in the Rosen Plaza Hotel pool in Orlando at our annual meeting!  All kidding aside, Jack is also an extremely talented mechanic and technician who has done it all.  He started working on heaving equipment in high school, and maintains his skills, even in retirement, as a Certified Crane Operator.  After high school, Jack was the Master Mechanic/Job Superintendent at R.G. Beer Corporation for 20 years and then an Equipment Manager for Kokosing Construction for the next 15 years.  In 2001, Jack opened his own business, Cranes & More, in Lexington, OH.  He specialized in crane inspections and heavy equipment repair, and offered crane operator and safety training.  Jack claims he is now “semi-retired,” but we know that he keeps himself busy with equipment repairs for local farmers; traveling with his wife; and hosting square dances in his 1870s post and beam barn that, you guessed it, Jack rebuilt himself several years ago.  Thank you, Jack, for being one of our judges!


David Fernandez
Our third judge is David Fernandez, Master Sargent Magician Extraordinaire, USAFE (United States Air Forces Europe) Manager, at the AFFORTTC (Air Force Forces Transportation Training Center), in Spangdahlem Thatssomewherein, Germany.  David, in case your eyes glazed over reading that fancy title, is an air force guy.  David is also a top notch Heavy Equipment Technician, and was a finalist for 2017 Technician of the Year, so we’ve decided he’s OK.

 He charmed the audience last year in Las Vegas by giving a spontaneous, heartfelt, “touching and moving” speech when the winner was unable to attend.  David hails from Washington D.C. and boy does he get around!  His military career started in Texas and has taken him to California, Delaware, Alaska, North Dakota, and Arkansas.  David first worked as a mechanic in 2001 at Dover AFB, earned his Instructor Certification in 2012, and became a Vehicle Management Superintendent in 2014.  He now serves in Spangdahlem, Germany, where he leads a CCAF qualified instructor program, including managing all policies, procedures, and courses at the school.  Thank you for your service David, and thanks for being part of our judging panel!


Bob Merritt
Bob Merritt, CEM, is Director of Equipment for AECOM.  Bob has more than 44 years of equipment and project management experience and is a principal author for the policy and procedures for preventative maintenance of mobile and stationary mine equipment.    When asked to describe Bob Merritt, people respond with words like “knowledgeable, reliable, dependable, helpful, and humble.”

 AEMP members will tell you, Bob is a quiet leader who doesn’t need to draw attention to himself.  He is also a titan, “a captain of industry,” perhaps even Captain of AEMP!  Bob was instrumental in developing the telematics data standard; has served on nearly every association committee; recruited and mentored countless new members; served as Chairman of the Board in 2013-2014; and was the 2016 AEMP Hall of Fame Inductee. Bob is currently on the AEMP Awards Committee. Thanks, Captain Bob, for your many years with the association and for serving as a judge this year!

The Awards Process
These dedicated individuals and AEMP’s Awards committee worked through the following process to determine AEMP’s 2018 Technician of the Year recipients.

Step One – Nominations 
Employers contact AEMP with nominations. Technicians must have five of more years of experience as heavy equipment contractors/end-users. Membership in AEMP is not required for those nominating, or those being nominated. Employers may nominate one technician per year. 

Step Two - Applications 
Required Information:

  •  Professional Experience
  • Education Certifications & Credentials
  • Safety Record
  • Letter(s) of Recommendations

Attribute Questions:

  1. How does the technician foster a culture of safety?
  2. How has the technician used innovative tools, practices, or applications to create positive changes within your company or organization?
  3. How does the technician leverage technology to make improvements?
  4. Provide examples of the technician’s professional presence and leadership skills.

Step Three - Anonymity
Applications are “scrubbed” of all names (individuals and companies/organizations), as well as logos, geographic locations, and any other terms that hint at identity, to ensure anonymity. Application packets are then reformatted, again to ensure anonymity, and sent to the judging panel. 

Step Four – Judging
A panel of industry experts reviews the anonymous application packets for each nominee. The judges then score nominees using a weighted, numerical matrix. After scores are tallied, judges meet to discuss the results, and then choose the finalists and a top honoree. 

AEMP’s 2018 Technician of the Year Recipient will be honored at a special luncheon during AEMP’s 36th Management Conference and Annual Meeting in Orlando, FL, March 20-22. We hope you’ll be there!

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