Leveraging opportunities to share passion for our industry

David Scheitlin
NTEA Board Chair
Director of Operations
Holman Manufacturing & Distribution
(Roanoke, Indiana)

This article was published in the February 2024 edition of NTEA News.

As I complete my final year of NTEA Board service, I am reminded of the continuing challenge of finding — and keeping — industry talent. While this is an ongoing problem for all organizations, we have a tremendous opportunity to increase employee retention rates by exercising creativity and utilizing the complexity and uniqueness of what we do for our customers to our advantage.

When I started my career nearly 30 years ago, I didn’t fully recognize the strength of the industry, but I knew everyone involved had a passion for it. Walking through the manufacturing plant, I saw machines cutting, bending and breaking metal; heard welding machines fusing material; and watched metal take on many different shapes and forms. I observed painters skillfully adding color to pre-assembled metal bodies and installation techs adding more complexity to a vehicle than I ever could have imagined. I wasn’t aware work trucks didn’t roll off the line fully assembled. I was young, naïve — and hooked.

I believe the passion for what we do stems from the complexity and uniqueness in the products we manufacture, develop and install on vehicles. Our industry turns trucks into amazing tools, creating opportunities for all sizes of companies to complete their jobs more efficiently, effectively and safely. Capitalizing on the diversity of skills, knowledge, and technology required to create these specialized tools is the key to developing a lasting workforce for generations to come.

We are fortunate to see our products daily all over the country on every street corner, while the people using them are busy building the infrastructure for future generations. Bringing attention to the importance of our products helps pave the way for a renewed passion from the talented individuals we employ, while garnering interest from inexperienced individuals such as myself all those years ago.

As leaders, we need to be at the forefront of sharing our knowledge and experience with today’s youth, their parents and educators about the opportunities available to them for a rewarding career. We should be utilizing technology to showcase what a career can look like in this field and how impactful it can be in their communities. We can engage the hearts and minds of both teachers and students by visiting schools and supporting opportunities to learn about our industry. We can help create a passion for what we know and love by highlighting the dynamic nature of the industry we work in today. I never would have thought a few walks through a manufacturing plant during an interview so many years ago would have led to such an amazing opportunity for me. I was fortunate to have someone show me around who knew a thing or two about sparking that hidden passion inside of me and an enthusiasm for upfitting wherever I go.

As I complete my tenure on the Board and reminisce about the time served, I am grateful to have met so many talented and passionate industry professionals. I am honored to have served on the Board that elected the first female chair for the Association and am encouraged by the strength of NTEA’s Generation Next group. I urge all leaders to utilize the passion for the industry that we all have within us to show the uniqueness, complexity and opportunities our industry can provide to the younger generation to help fuel those future passions. I’m excited to think about what lies ahead. I hope to see you all at Work Truck Week 2024, and thank you for the opportunity to serve as your NTEA Board chair.