EETC holds successful 21st annual conference

Bjoern Fischer

Bjoern Fischer, president of Stihl Inc., delivers the keynote address at the EETC annual conference that was hosted and sponsored by Stihl Inc.

By Steve Noe

The Equipment & Engine Training Council (EETC) held a highly productive 21st annual conference at the Sheraton Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hotel April 5-8 in Virginia Beach, Va. Stihl Inc. served as the conference host and platinum sponsor, and Stihl Inc. President Bjoern Fischer delivered the keynote address.

“The EETC conference is our key event of the year and is where the OPE industry is united together in providing training and support to educators that teach future technicians for the industry in their schools’ small-engine or power equipment programs,” said EETC Executive Director Erik Sides.

During the conference, the EETC made several important announcements, including an update on the association and its initiatives, its new board, as well as its annual scholarship and award winners.

2016-17 Year in Review

During the past year, the EETC increased its membership across the board with three new manufacturers for a total of 23, seven new high schools for a total of 109, and three new colleges for a total of 48. In addition, the EETC administered 1,936 tests in 2016, nearly equaling the 2015 total of 1,973.

2017-18 Board of Directors

The EETC’s 2017-18 Executive Board will consist of Brian O’Neil of B3C Fuel Solutions as president; Jay Larsen of Blount Inc. as vice president; John Easley of Louisiana State Penitentiary as secretary; Ed Cole as treasurer; and Ron Jensen of Echo Inc. as past president.

Rounding out the board as directors will be Brian Thomas, MTD; Allen Spence, Kawasaki Engines; Michael Brotzman, Kohler Company; Tom Billigen, Briggs & Stratton; Duane Kasprick, The Toro Company; Steve Olsen; Multiquip Inc.; Tim Jones, Marr Bros.; Daryl Glover, Gardner Dixie Sales; Albert Heron, Texas Outdoor Power; Harry Senn, Texas State Technical College; Nick Testa, State University of New York (SUNY) at Cobleskill; and Dave Worden, SkillsUSA.

Eddie Anderson, middle, technical training supervisor, Stihl Inc., accepts the Manufacturer of the Year Award on behalf of Stihl Inc. from EETC President Brian O’Neil, left, and EETC Past President Ron Jensen, right.

Annual Award Winners

Each year, the EETC hands out several awards at its annual conference. This year’s annual award winners were as follows:

  • Manufacturer of the Year: Stihl Inc., Virginia Beach, Va.
  • Distributor of the Year: Tidewater Power Equipment Company, Virginia Beach, Va.
  • Service Manager of the Year: Scott Tindle, Midwest Equipment & Supply Co. Inc., Evansville, Ind.
  • College of the Year: State University of New York (SUNY) at Cobleskill, Cobleskill, N.Y. (Instructor Nick Testa)
  • High School of the Year: Bucks County Technical High School, Fairless Hills, Pa. (Instructor Jeff Cesari)
  • Spirit Award: EETC Professor Emeritus Harry Senn, Texas State Technical College, Waco, Texas
  • President’s Award: Jay Larsen, Blount Inc., Portland, Ore.
  • Director’s Award: Ron Jensen, Echo Inc., Lake Zurich, Ill.

Scholarship Winners

A total of eight Paul H. Scholten Memorial scholarships were announced at the EETC annual conference. Each of the following individuals received a $1,000 scholarship:

  • Patrick Rolain, freshman, Madison Area Technical College, Madison, Wis., received his scholarship from Nancy Cueroni on behalf of the Outdoor Power Equipment & Engine Service Association (OPEESA).
  • Maxwell Hodges, senior, Bucks County Technical High School, Fairless, Pa., was presented his scholarship by Mike Hudson representing Echo Inc.
  • Katie Leet, freshman, Madison Area Technical College, Madison, Wis., received her scholarship from Steve Meyer on behalf of Almon Inc.
  • Dominic Opsteen, freshman, and Donaven Phillips, sophomore, both from Fox Valley Technical College, Appleton, Wis., each received a scholarship from Tom Billigen on behalf of Briggs & Stratton Corporation.
  • Devin Jensen, freshman, Alexandria Technical College, Alexandria, Minn., received his scholarship from Allen Pence representing Kawasaki Engines.
  • Austin Salsbury, senior, Nordonia High School, Macedonia, Ohio, and Stephanie Vopelak, sophomore, SUNY at Cobleskill, Cobleskill, N.Y., received scholarships from Ron Jensen on behalf of the EETC.

Future Annual Conferences

The EETC announced details on its next two annual conferences. The 22nd annual conference will be hosted by Briggs & Stratton Corporation at The Hotel at Auburn University in Auburn, Ala., April 11-14, 2018. The 23rd annual conference will be hosted by Oregon | Blount Inc. in Portland, Ore., April 3-6, 2019.

For more information about the EETC, visit