The first time Brandon Wesselius entered the Navistar Technician Rodeo in 2018, he almost felt like he shouldn’t have been there. It was that tough, he said.
So the 30-year-old from Owen Sound, Ont., decided to compete again in 2019 so that he could feel better.
“My main goal was not to try to win, not to beat others. It was… just so that at the end of the day, I can feel good about myself,” Wesselius told Truck Tech after winning in the truck category.
The finalists were selected from an overall group of 900 technicians. Only Navistar Diamond Certification holders can participate in the annual event. Getting certified itself is a tough, long process involving multiple online tests, Wesselius said.
Each year, the certified technicians get a 24-hour window for a two-hour online test encompassing all aspects of truck repairs. The winners qualify for competition.
The final round, held in Woodridge, Ill., involves a series of stations designed to simulate service areas. The contestants are assessed on how quickly and effectively they navigate their way through the stations, diagnosing and fixing problems along the way.
Wesselius was one of three contestants, including one competing in the bus category, from Lewis Motor Sales — a major dealer for Navistar’s International brand of trucks.
Prior to joining Lewis Motor in 2018, he worked for more than 10 years at another Navistar dealer, Altruck International Truck Centres in Guelph, Ont. He got that job through the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program, a popular school-to-work project.
By joining the trucking industry, Wesselius was just following a family tradition, too. His father, Ed, has been a longhaul trucker for more than 50 years. But Ed Wesselius never wanted his son to become a truck driver.
“He regretted being away from home all the time, so he didn’t want that to happen to me. He said, ‘No, you’re not allowed to be a trucker,’” Brandon Wesselius recalled.
So, for him, the closest thing to becoming a trucker was working as a truck technician.
There is also one other person who has inspired him so much: His wife Jen. They have been married since 2016.
Wesselius said Jen helped him “come out of my shell and become more sociable.” If it was not for Jen’s support, Wesselius said, he wouldn’t have participated in the competition.
For his efforts, Wesselius received a Navistar certificate and a gift card worth $2,500. And his employer acknowledged his success with a “nice bonus,” he added.
The technician even spends his spare time with grease under his fingernails, although that work focuses on motorcycles. “I have done two bikes so far. I did a 1980 Honda CM400, and then I did a 1997 Suzuki GS1000.”
Now he can say he applies some star power to the tasks.
Have your say
We won't publish or share your data