It may sound obvious, but during my four years as service manager for Quality Lift Trucks (Chula Vista, CA), the single most important thing I do is serve. It’s not just fixing trucks, though; it’s about maintaining a high standard of internal and external customer care. And it’s not just me. A culture of service permeates our company, and I’ve noticed it ever since my father, Dennis Hines, first started bringing me around the family business as a child.
After graduating high school, I wasn’t completely sure what I wanted to do, but I knew the family business was a serious option. I decided to give it a try and joined the company full time while taking college courses on the side. It wasn’t long before I knew I’d made the right decision.
I think the problem-solving aspect of material handling is what really sucked me in. Going into a situation where a customer is posed with a unique challenge and figuring out a way to make it work is a very rewarding feeling. That feeling is a real motivator for me and a big reason why I look forward to spending my career in this industry.
The First Step
As you might expect, I didn’t waltz into my service manager role straight out of high school. I needed to pay my dues first. I started as a shop technician, where I began to master the nuts and bolts of the industry. I took to the technical side of the business very well, but, as any forklift service tech knows, there’s a great deal of information to be learned. I relied on our supplier training schools and online manuals to keep me up to speed, and I soon became a field technician.
After a few years on the road, my career took a new direction. The company’s service manager, who had been with us almost since we opened in 1978, decided to move out of state and I was selected to take his place. Fortunately, the transition took several months, so I had a chance to learn the ropes from him. Now, four years into my run as service manager, I’ve put my own stamp on the position. I have a wide range of responsibilities, including scheduling maintenance on service trucks, coordinating and scheduling technicians, approving estimates, processing paperwork, reviewing and signing off on work orders, and all the day-to-day minutiae that make the department function.
Being part of the family business, I’ve taken on additional responsibilities outside of the service department. I spend a great deal of time in communication with our sales, accounting and parts managers to ensure that we’re providing the highest possible level of service to our customers.
There’s that service theme again. It’s what being a manager here is all about. You can’t prevent issues from happening, but you can certainly control how they’re handled. All of our training, all of the hard work we do, it all goes back to that one simple philosophy: Our customers need us to keep them up and running at all costs. If I can make sure that our service department does that, we will earn their respect and loyalty, and that’s what it’s all about.