SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Mechanics from all over the state will soon gather for an opportunity to train, network, and catch up on the latest in the school transportation field.
The New York State Head Mechanics Association’s Summer Seminar will take place on July 25 at the Oncenter, a convention center and meeting area in downtown Syracuse.
Head mechanics and mechanics from all over the state take part in training classes and get to meet with suppliers from across the U.S. This year, classes will be held on the latest Cummins engine technology, updates on federal rules for brake adjustment training, and updates on new products and developments from the “Big 3” school bus manufacturers — Blue Bird Corp., IC Bus, and Thomas Built Buses.
The trade show will include a range of suppliers, such as SoundOff Commercial Vehicle Products, parts distributor FleetPride, mobile video surveillance supplier AngelTrax, Bus Parts Warehouse, and Tallmadge Tire Service. More than a dozen buses of all fuel types and sizes will be featured on the show floor, and service managers and engineers will also be on hand to answer questions, said Jason Johnson, president of the association and equipment service manager for Horseheads Central School District.
In addition to the annual seminar, the association holds monthly meetings at chapters, each involving 20 to 40 school districts, throughout the state, including at a new one that will soon open in Long Island.
“We have these meetings every month and then we bring all [the members] together once a year,” Johnson said.
This is the 29th year that the conference has been held, and its attendance has grown year over year, he added.
“We had held our annual seminar at the Holiday Inn in Syracuse, and we outgrew that by leaps and bounds, so we ended up moving to the Oncenter.”
The average number of mechanics attending the annual seminar is over 500, and they hail from about 170 school districts and bus contracting companies, Johnson said.
Additionally, attendance has become high enough to prompt Blue Bird and Thomas Built Buses to schedule technician training in Syracuse the day before the conference.
Organizing and putting on the conference helps the association realize its mission, which is to provide all mechanics in the state with the training and knowledge to ensure that school buses in New York are as safe as possible, Johnson said.
“When you see the [number] of people that come to the show, it’s really satisfying, because you know there are a lot of people in this field that must truly love their job and enjoy it because it’s all about safety,” he added. “It’s a good feeling, and we want to make sure their buses are the safest in the country.”