EETC holds successful annual conference

Capping off a momentous year, the Equipment & Engine Training Council (EETC) held a successful 23rd annual conference April 3-6 at the Holiday Inn Portland South in Wilsonville, Ore. With Oregon|Blount International graciously serving as the conference host and platinum sponsor, more than 80 people attended the conference.

The conference featured the perfect mix of business and pleasure. Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), delivered a highly informative keynote address on the state of the industry. The conference included a board of directors meeting, the general session, an Oregon|Blount International plant tour, certification test committee meetings and service training sessions, as well as some fun with an ice cream social, a welcome dinner/awards banquet aboard a yacht, and Wild Bill’s Casino Night on the final evening.

During the general session, EETC Executive Director Erik Sides highlighted many of the association’s achievements from the past year. They included hiring Gabe Carson as instructional designer to develop the EETC’s e-learning programs and instruction/repair videos; purchasing the EETC’s first commercial property and converting it into its new headquarters; launching the EETC’s first-ever catalog to showcase all of the association’s offerings; introducing an online, non-proctored, four-stroke engine certification exam recognized by Briggs & Stratton; and expanding the EETC’s social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The EETC also plans to develop more e-learning programs and update its website in the coming year.

Eddie Anderson, technical training supervisor at Stihl Inc., conducts a training session on “Stihl Guide Bars and Saw Chain: Identification and Service Procedures” during the EETC annual conference. Photo provided by EETC.

“We had an absolutely great conference, and members were excited about the continued growth and expansion of EETC programs and initiatives,” said Sides. “I truly want to thank our members for getting behind us and supporting the direction we’re taking.”

New board
The EETC announced its 2019-20 board of directors at the annual conference, and the new board held its first meeting on day one. Board members for the upcoming year will be as follows:

Executive board:
•          President: Harry Senn, Texas State Technical College (retired)
•          Vice President: Michael Broetzmann, Kohler
•          Secretary: Dale Drees, Fox Valley Technical College
•          Treasurer: Ed Cole, Toro (retired)
•          Past President: Jay Larsen, Oregon|Blount International

Board of directors:
•          Bruce Tallman, Walker Manufacturing
•          Doug Peeler, Altaquip
•          Scott Tindle, Midwest Power Equipment
•          Brian Thomas, MTD
•          Allen Spence, Kawasaki
•          Duane Kasprick, Toro
•          Steve Olsen, Multiquip
•          Tim Jones, Marr Bros.
•          Nick Testa, SUNY Cobleskill
•          Dave Worden, SkillsUSA
•          Jerry Koenig, Cuyahoga Valley Career Center
•          Chuck Sessoms, Echo Inc.

The welcome dinner was held aboard the Portland Spirit, a 150-foot, three-deck yacht, as it cruised along the beautiful Willamette River, a 187-mile tributary of the Columbia River in Oregon. Following dinner, the EETC presented the following annual awards:
•          President’s Award: Ron Jensen, Echo Inc.
•          College of the Year: Madison College, Madison, Wis.
•          High School of the Year: Cuyahoga Valley Career Center, Brecksville, Ohio
•          Distributor of the Year: Golden Eagle Distributing Corp.
•          Service Manager of the Year (John Thompson Memorial Award): Justin Siler, Echo Power Equipment Canada
•          Manufacturer of the Year: Oregon|Blount International
•          Director’s Award: Larry Smith, Jacksonville High School, Jacksonville, Texas
•          Spirit Award: Tom Beheler, who was one of the EETC’s founding members, retired March 29, 2019, after working nearly 23 years at Hydro-Gear.

In memory of Paul H. Scholten (1940-2002), a founding member and a past president of the EETC, as well as a fervent advocate for excellence in power equipment service and repair, the following $1,000 scholarships were presented to students toward their college expenses in an OPE-related technician program:
•          Michael Weichart, freshman and OPE major, Fox Valley Technical College, Appleton, Wis. (donated by Echo Inc.)
•          Hunter McDaniel, freshman and marine, motorcycle & powersports technology major, Alexandria Technical College, Alexandria, Minn. (donated by the Outdoor Power Equipment and Engine Service Association — OPEESA)
•          Kegan Bartell, high school senior who plans to major in OPE at Fox Valley Technical College, Appleton, Wis. (donated by Kohler Engines)
•          Brock Anderson, freshman and power sports technology major, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, Rice Lake, Wis. (donated by Kawasaki Engines)
•          William Horning, sophomore and ag equipment technology major, SUNY Cobleskill, Cobleskill, N.Y. (donated by Multiquip)
•          Raeleigh May, freshman and John Deere Tech major, SUNY Cobleskill, Cobleskill, N.Y. (donated by Almon Inc.)

Grinder giveaway
During the Wild Bill’s Casino Night, a drawing was held with four grinders given away by Oregon|Blount International. The following four individuals were the lucky winners:
•          Trence McCoy, Bossier Parish School for Technology, Bossier City, La.
•          Armando Actis, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, Ill.
•          Arnoldo Williams, MiraCosta College, Oceanside, Calif.
•          Tadd Wheeler, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho

The EETC would like to thank everyone who attended and contributed to the success of the 23rd annual conference, especially the following 14 sponsors:
•          Platinum: Oregon|Blount International
•          Gold: Briggs & Stratton, Echo, GIE+EXPO, Honda Engines, Husqvarna, KPM Exceptional, Multiquip, Stihl, Toro
•          Silver: Hydro-Gear, Kawasaki Engines, Kohler Engines
•          Bronze: Florida Outdoor Equipment Stihl, Toro

Save the dates
The 24th annual EETC conference will be held by Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wis., April 1-4, 2020, with Ariens Company serving as host. For updates, visit and follow the EETC on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


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