Danny Reed from Beaufort County went to Peoria, Illinois along with 22 other competitors from across the USA with the intentions of becoming "America’s Best” bus inspector. At the end of the two day event, Danny was crowned “America’s Best.” He qualified for the national event by competing in the North Carolina state inspection contest at the NCPTA conference in Asheville and won first place.
As the first place North Carolina winner he competed for the “America’s Best” school bus inspection on August 2-3, 2007. The national competition is limited to two participants per state and requires all participants to be currently employed in a position requiring the regular/frequent inspection or maintenance of school buses. Danny has been employed by the Beaufort County School System as a bus technician for seven years and assists with the maintenance of approximately 132 buses. According to Jerry Wynne, director of Transportation in Beaufort County, “All of the guys in our shop look up to Danny due to his sincerity and expertise. We all have a lot of respect for Danny’s knowledge of school buses. He is a mentor to our less experienced techs.”
Danny was very apprehensive about the outcome as he awaited the results at an awards luncheon. His boss, Jerry Wynne, never wavered in his confidence for his employee. “You would not be here if you were not the best” assured Jerry. After he was announced the winner, Danny was very appreciative of all who help him get there. “I knew that I did pretty good on the written test and felt like I found a lot of the defects on the buses,” said Danny very modestly. “I had a ball doing this and will try my best to be back here next year at the national level.”
The 4th annual nationwide competition, hosted this year by Caterpillar, was held at their sprawling 2-acre indoor Training and Demonstration Center.
Danny had to inspect three “specially rigged” buses and identify as many defects as possible with 15 minutes allowed per bus.
All of the participants pose on a D11R bulldozer which was built at a nearby assembly plant.
Danny poses with his proud boss, Jerry Wynne who traveled along for support.
The top 3 inspectors take a moment to pose in front of NASCAR driver Dave Blaney’s car which is sponsored by Caterpillar. Pictured L-R, Don Carnahan with Zonar, one of the sponsers, (1st)Danny Reed, Beaufort Co Schools. NC; 2nd Ivie Bryce, Utah Highway Patrol; 3rd Jeff Phil, Douglas Co. Schools, Colorado.
Rick Jennings (shown here underneath a bus) from Wilkes Co. participated in the Technician competition which was comprised of solving diagnostic problems on 3 different school buses. Rick who has previously won 1st & 3rd place at the national level in the inspection competition had an uphill battle due to his unfamiliarity with the 2005 Bluebird transit style buses that were used in the competition. “It was like showing up for class and finding out that you have a test that you are not prepared for” explained Rick. “Bluebird Transit’s are a different animal compared to what we are used to working on in NC.”
All participants and observers were given a very impressive 45-minute demonstration of the capabilities of Caterpillar machinery. Here shown is Randy Henson in front a 1.6 million dollar dump truck capable of carrying loads equivalent to 200 pickup trucks. Randy was also one of the judges for the inspection competition held in Peoria.
Here participants and guests are heading towards a grandstand for a heavy equipment demonstration put on especially for the technician competition contestants and guests. The entire grandstand rotated 360 degrees offering everyone views of the 25-30 different machines that were being operated to show off their capabilities. This area is generally used to show potential buyers what they are going to get for their money.
The NC Crew - (L-R), Danny, Jerry, Randy, Rick. As the 2007 winner, Danny will travel to the NAPT national convention in Grand Rapids Michigan in November to attend a ceremony in front of 1000’s of school bus transportation personnel from across the nation where he will receive his accolades for being “America’s Best.”
In the 4-year history of the national competition North Carolina has always placed in the top-3.
2004 - Terry Barlow, Wilkes, 3rd place - Inspection Contest
2005 - Rick Jennings, Wilkes, 1st Place - Inspection Contest, Tim Speer, Yadkin, 2nd place- Technician Contest
2006 - Rick Jennings, Wilkes, 3rd Place - Inspection Contest
2007 - Danny Reed, Beaufort, 1st place - Inspection Contest
North Carolina is very proud of Danny and Rick for their efforts in the 2007 competition. Hopefully next year a school bus technician from North Carolina will continue the tradition at the 2008 “America’s Best” competition.