Technician Spotlight: Richard Cunningham, MacKinnon Equipment & Services
Modern Material Handling's Maintenance Repair and Operations (MRO) Team sat down with Richard Cunningham to discuss his field of work and the skills he has used to succeed.
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MacKinnon Equipment & Services
Location: Five branches from Fort Meyers, FL to Tifton, GA.
Duties: Technician trainer, technical support
MHMRO: How did you get into this field, and what do you like about it?
Cunningham: I retired from the Navy as a master diesel mechanic, and I didn’t really know what to do with myself. A friend called his uncle at MacKinnon, and I’ve been here for the past 14 years. I came into it with a lot of knowledge from my experience in the Navy and pretty soon I was lead technician. I like the travel and opportunity to meet people, but the challenge and variety of the environment is where I get my thrill: Find the equipment, find the problem, resolve it and get the customer back up and running. It’s especially rewarding when you find the fix that nobody else can.
MHMRO: What skills are the most important to a successful technician?
Cunningham: There are always going to be mechanics that just have a mind for the mechanical stuff. For some of them, the computer and electronics side can be a challenge. But, I can’t overstate the importance of learning skills like how to read hydraulic and electrical schematics.
No matter how good you are with computers, you need real-world knowledge because you will need to think outside the box to figure things out. I have a lot of knowledge from the Navy and try to pass it on, but I tell everyone that I don’t know everything and will never pretend to. That’s another thing about this business: You need a network of people. The whole goal is to have a complete team that can function together and be there for one another.
Early on, I worked for an old Air Force guy who had been in the industry for 40+ years. He had the knowledge and willingness to sit there and show you things. I thought, “That’s what I want to do. I want to be like him.” But it goes both ways. I respected that he had the time to sit with me, but you have to want to learn. This industry makes it easier since they have some amazing ways to present knowledge to us with new courses and certifications all the time.
MHMRO: What would you say to young people considering a career as a technician?
Cunningham: I bang the drum for this field quite a bit. I tell every young kid I can, and some who are getting out of the military, that you need to look into this field. Today’s society is all about college, college, college. Not everyone has the temperament or financial ability to go to college. We have to get back to offering these careers to kids. Right now it’s at a tipping point because a lot of technicians are older. We need to get the younger ones into the workforce and pass down that knowledge. This is a remarkable field. If you are willing to drive yourself forward, there is absolutely no limit to what you can do here. You can be the No. 1 mechanic in the whole world.
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