The new partnership was celebrated Tuesday at the TCAT-Elizabethton campus in the Watauga Industrial Park. Corporate leaders from Kubota’s American headquarters in Grapevine, Texas, many Kubota dealers from around the region and several supervisors of career and technical education from school districts in the region attended the event.
Those who attended on Tuesday were briefed by John Lee, certified training coordinator at TCAT-Elizabethton, on how the school can provide instruction and training that will meet the latest Kubota standards for now and in the future.
Lee is a leading advocate for the National Coalition of Certified Centers (NC3), and he is working to create a curriculum that will lead to certifications on every part of training Kubota requires for its entry level and next levels of technical service representatives at Kubota dealerships.
The entry level position is called a “preventive maintenance technician” and a graduate receives a certificate of training from the school. The level 1 position is called a “technician apprentice” and graduates receive a certificate. The level 2 position is called “technician” and graduates receive a diploma. The highest level of training at the school is a level 3 technician. Graduates receive an advanced diploma.
Matt Jones, owner of Johnson City Kubota, Greene County Kubota and Mountain Kubota of Boone, N.C., said he is pleased with the partnership.
"Basically, this is the first Kubota Diesel Certified Technician program to exist in the country," Jones said. "They selected five schools from across the country and TCAT-Elizabethton is one of them. John Lee is developing the program and I really think it's going to be amazing for the folks who want to become diesel mechanics with a focus on agricultural and construction equipment."
Johnson City Kubota is donating equipment for students to work on during the program and the school also will borrow specific machines for students to utilize for different portions of the course. Those who complete the program and come to work for Jones in one of his dealerships will receive a Toolbox Scholarship, which consists of a full set of tools needed to accomplish all the jobs a starting technician would require.
Jones said the program will be an enormous benefit for his Kubota dealerships.
"As our businesses have grown, our ability to support our customers and support their service needs grows," he said. "It's difficult to find trained mechanics and having this option in our back door where people cannot only become diesel mechanics but also be trained with Kubota equipment is going to be great for the future support of customers."
Jones said the new partnership was a “win-win” for both the dealerships and the technicians. "It means the learning curve will be shortened so we can quickly get people up to speed when they join our team. Their skill levels will be increased so that they can handle more challenging work. It's truly a win-win for us in terms of customer support and also for the mechanics because it won't take them as long to increase their skill level."
Lee agreed, saying it helped these workers realize the American dream of providing a good life for themselves and their family. He also said there was a third win, which was realized by TCAT-Elizabethton.
Lee said part of that win was the expansion of the facilities of the school. He announced that $300,000 is being invested to renovate the Herman Robinson Campus of the school on Arney Hill in order to provide adequate space for the expanded programs.
But Lee said there is a hope that the partnership could eventually lead to a major new building on the main campus. That $7 million building would be the Construction and Agriculture Equipment Technology Building.
Lee showed an artist conception of how the building would appear. It would be built on one of the last parcels of undeveloped land on the main campus.