Maintaining the Message
In his nearly four decades working at Muncie Power Products, Dave Douglass, director of training and education, has seen training evolve from sessions in a darkened room with an overhead projector to interactive digital modules accessible online from any part of the world.
Despite the upgraded method of delivery, the message has remained the same – education is crucial for both the company’s employees and its customers.
“If we can improve the knowledge level of people in the industry, we improve ourselves and we improve the industry in general,” Douglass said.
New employees receive thorough training to help them understand the specifics of the field.
“Most of our customer service managers and several of our zone sales managers have come to us with no background in the mobile hydraulic industry. We want to get those people up to speed so they can help customers. We offer extensive in-house training for new engineers, customer service managers and zone sales managers,” Douglass said.
He personally conducts four, weeklong product and application schools within the company. In addition, he leads a number of outside classes, often tailored to a customer’s specific needs.
Educating distributors and customers is one of Douglass’ key goals.
“Our product line is pretty technical in nature. A lot of our distributors have experience in truck parts but don’t have much experience in hydraulics and power take-offs. For our distributors to be successful in selling our products, they need some technical education on what the products are, how they work and how to select the proper components for whatever vehicle they are working on,” he said.
The company views the training as an investment.
“We have always provided training to customers and we’ve never charged for that training. We’ve always felt the training pays us by having a well-educated network of distributors who are successful in selling our products,” Douglass said.
Technology has made it easier to spread the training to a wider audience. Muncie’s online training program, M-Power Tech, is accessible through the company website. Launched in 2011, the course features 14 lessons, which each take roughly 30 to 45 minutes.
“At the end of each training module, there is a 10-question quiz. Anyone who finishes all the modules and gets an 80 percent score or higher on each quiz receives a certificate of completion,” he said. “To date, we have had almost 500 people complete our online course.”
M-Power Tech will soon be available in Spanish, which will help educate a growing market for the company.
“We have a lot of export customers in Central and South America as well as customers in the United States who maybe don’t speak English as a first language,” Douglass said.
Keeping up with the demand for product training is a constant job for Douglass as the company creates new products and technology changes.
“As we introduce new products or product changes, those things have to be incorporated into the training,“ he said.
“The online access makes it possible to get more people educated quickly and at a pace they can set themselves."