Canadian technician among Penske’s best

Like many longtime technicians, Mark Parisotto’s interest in fixing things was borne early, in his father’s garage where he developed an interest in tearing down small engines and putting them back together.

“It started with lawnmowers, pump engines, and just continued on,” Parisotto, a technician with Penske Truck Leasing told Truck Tech. “When I was in high school, I took an automotive class. I knew I wasn’t going to go to university and be a businessman and realized this is what I liked to do – to be outside and get my hands dirty.”

Mark Parisotto finished fifth at the inaugural Penske Truck Leasing 2019 Tech Showdown competition. Pictured from left: Clint Smith, district service manager; Mark Parisotto, lead technician 1, and Sean Hnatiuk, area maintenance manager.  down

While learning the trade through high school in Vancouver, B.C., Parisotto developed an interest in heavy equipment and signed on for a pre-apprenticeship program in heavy-duty and commercial transport.

“It gives you a taste of everything,” he said of the program. He chose to hone in on commercial transport when launching his career more than 30 years ago. Twenty-three years ago, Parisotto joined Penske and hasn’t looked back.

“I’ve enjoyed my career. I’m enjoying it still,” Parisotto said.

One of the aspects of the job he enjoys is the ongoing training Penske provides, which allows him to keep his skills sharp. It’s essential, he said, in a rapidly changing industry that’s becoming increasingly technical.

“Every platform changes,” he said. “Even the lights are controled by the computer when they come on. You’ve got to stay on top of it.”

Being a multi-brand dealer, Penske technicians have to stay on top of developments from several manufacturers. In addition to Penske-supplied training, Parisotto takes it upon himself to stay educated, and relies on vendors to provide training on their specific platforms. One good way to put that training to use is to enter Penke’s technician challenges.

Parisotto has made it to the regionals three times before the technician challenges were ended in 2013, and each time he finished within the top three. Last year, Penske relaunched the program, rebranded as its Tech Showdown, and Parisotto put in his best performance yet, making it to the national championships at Team Penske’s racing headquarters in Mooresville, N.C., in mid-December, and finishing in fifth place among more than 760 participants. This year’s theme was exhaust stream management, an area of particular interest in Parisotto and one of increasing demand.

“It builds a sense of accomplishment,” he said of the competitions. “Every competition I go into, I go in to do the best I can and to win, but also to challenge myself and see how far I can get. I’ve been doing the technician challenges every time they come out.”

“There’s going to be good money but it takes a lot of work. Sometimes it’s heavy work – you have to be physically fit.”

Mark Parisotto, Penske Truck Leasing

Parisotto, now 50, has seen shop life evolve over the years. Technology is now omnipresent, and the breed of technicians entering the trade has changed. Parisotto’s advice to aspiring technicians is to get into the trade for the right reasons.

“A lot of young guys come into it for the money right away,” he said. “There’s going to be good money but it takes a lot of work. Sometimes it’s heavy work – you have to be physically fit. You have to be tech-savvy as well – you have to know how to use a computer and different vendor programs. If you think it’s going to be easy money, I’d say no, this isn’t the job for you. It takes a lot of commitment to be good at your job.”

But for the right person, the career can be tremendously rewarding, Parisotto added. Asked what aspect of the trade he enjoys most, he didn’t hesitate: “The sense of getting a problem, going through and fixing it. Repairing something someone else couldn’t do.”

More than 760 technicians took part in Penske’s 2019 Tech Showdown, with Vancouver technician Mark Parisotto emerging within the top five finishers.
James Menzies

James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 18 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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