St. Cloud Technical Community College (SCTCC) is a great place where many students begin their professional training for the real world. One of their accredited programs, specifically the medium heavy duty truck department, is a new partner of Long Haul Trucking. From what started as a conversation between the instructors of the department, Timmy and Matt, with Long Haul’s CEO Jason Michels, has now turned into a truck donation that brought some of the newest, most innovative technology to the SCTCC fleet. Located only about 40 miles from one another, SCTCC and Long Haul have a shared interest in offering aspiring diesel techs the opportunity to grow their skills to the best of their abilities prior to entering the industry. Thanks to Long Haul’s donation of a 579 Peterbilt, they now have a new opportunity to do so. As an employee owned company, part of Long Haul’s mission is to ensure that not only is there focus on organic, healthy growth for the company, but for all individuals that one day hope to be members of their industry.
Matt Hoepner has been a primary instructor for the Diesel Technician program at SCTCC for approximately 10 years and has helped many young students find a home in the work field of being a diesel tech. “We not only want to develop good diesel techs but help turn them into responsible, accountable professionals. Our hope is that our techs leave here happy with the industry they have chosen to pursue, and that the industry is ultimately happy with the techs we provide” (Hoepner). SCTCC’s diesel tech program lasts 2 years with the primary focus being on teaching students how to properly work on diesel engines for over the road semi-trucks. One of the obstacles that many schools face, SCTCC included, is that buying trucks isn’t cheap to do and it’s not easy for schools to shake loose the amount of money needed to purchase equipment that is new every year. “When I met Jason for the first time and we sat down to talk, he realized quickly that we didn’t have any Peterbilt or Paccar products in our fleet. Jason showed immediate interest in what he could do to help change that. He saw an opportunity to help a program like ours reach the next level through a donation from Long Haul and instantly went to work on making it happen” (Hoepner). Not long after, a donation was coordinated for the program from Long Haul that would not only bring the department the only Peterbilt in their fleet, but also a Paccar engine, APU, and some of the most sophisticated driving technology offered today.
“It wasn’t just the truck, but the engine inside, the lane mitigation system, collision avoidance and all the technology it had to offer. We usually train our diesel techs on the products that we can most easily get our hands on. Now that we have a Paccar engine in our fleet, we are capable to train more students on them at a higher frequency” (Hoepner). Introducing students to the latest technology of their future professional field is critical for them to be able to enter the trade as polished and ready as possible. Long Haul Trucking couldn’t be more grateful to have the opportunity to partner with SCTCC and help make a positive impact on the training of their students with this donation. “SCTCC is local, and we’ve had some good techs come out of this program, so we thought it would be a good fit. Techs are so important to our operation, that giving back to the industry that’s going to funnel those techs into Long Haul Trucking is super important to us” (Jason Michels). According to Hoepner, SCTCC’s diesel tech program is seeing a rapid increase of students attending that live in the west metro, near both SCTCC and Long Haul. “I keep track of where all students go after graduation, and about 90% go back to a shop near their hometown” (Hoepner). With plenty of great industry options near the homes of these SCTCC’s students, Long Haul included, it is great to have another new avenue of training to get them ready for the field.
Continuous education is a cornerstone for the growth of any profession or industry and Long Haul is excited to take the next step forward in helping SCTCC students with their career path. “What I’m most excited about from this donation is the opportunity it provides to help future students coming through the program to be able to work on the newest technology of trucks” (Long Haul Shop Manager, Rob Winter). Staying current is huge, and the technology that this asset brings with it will only give SCTCC diesel techs another chance to do so. “This truck brought more interest from our students and is going to help us remain more current with the industry. We are getting good use of it already and have been able to put multiple students to work on it” (Hoepner). Thank you to SCTCC, Long Haul and all the organizations within the trucking industry that take steps daily to continue the growth of our field. Transportation has long been part of the backbone of the American economy and it is critical that all those within the industry remain committed to continue its development for years to come.