From fixing equipment on the farm with her father, to becoming the first woman in the Kenworth dealer network in Canada and the United States to achieve the prestigious Kenworth Certified Master Technician status, Jennifer Lesnik always knew she had the skillset to work on heavy equipment as a profession.
“Growing up on a farm, my family didn’t use outside help when equipment broke down. We would fix it ourselves,” Lesnik said. “I enjoyed learning from my dad how to work on equipment, getting my hands dirty, and solving problems on my own. I knew early on that I wanted a job that would involve fixing things.”
With family history and a special appreciation for the trucking industry, Lesnik decided the right career path for her was to service heavy duty trucks. In 2007, she started her career with the Edmonton Kenworth group as a dealer service technician.
“My grandfather owned a trucking company, so trucks were always around growing up,” Lesnik said. “I’ve always been fascinated by the sheer power trucks produce, plus I love the way they look. Especially the traditional long hoods. The trucking industry seemed like the right field to enter and I was right. I couldn’t be happier with the work I do. Servicing trucks and getting them back on the road is incredibly rewarding to me.”
Kenworth’s highest certification
Now in her 12th year as a service technician, working at several Edmonton Kenworth dealer locations, Lesnik has achieved Kenworth’s highest service certification – Kenworth Master Technician. She becomes the fourth Kenworth Master Technician in the Edmonton Kenworth dealer group.
“Jennifer is a great technician and we couldn’t be more proud of her in achieving this certification,” said Gary King, Edmonton Kenworth president and dealer principal. “This caps off all the hard work she has put in over the years and we look forward to her continued success with our dealer group. As the only woman to have achieved this status, she sets an excellent example and we hope more women soon follow in her footsteps.”
To become a Kenworth Master Technician, dealer technicians need to complete a comprehensive training system that includes classroom, online and self-study components. Through online modules, exams and other evaluations conducted by course instructors, Kenworth Master Technicians must show they have mastered the skills needed to successfully perform all diagnostics, repair and maintenance procedures to keep customers’ vehicles running their best.
It is estimated that it takes more than 570 hours to complete all coursework and training to earn the special certification, on top of the 6,000 hours of training that is required to become a Licensed Journeyman Heavy Equipment Technician in Canada.
“It feels amazing to have completed this certification and become a Kenworth Master Technician,” Lesnik said. “It’s hard work and it takes a lot of time to complete, especially when you work full-time during that training, but now that it’s over I feel confident in my ability to handle any of my customers’ needs.”
As a Kenworth Master Technician, Lesnik will respond to disabled trucks within a 160-kilometer radius of Edmonton Kenworth in Leduc.
Lesnik is certified to work on an array of components, such as PACCAR engines and PACCAR and Allison transmissions. Lesnik pilots a medium duty Kenworth service truck equipped with all the tools she needs to diagnose and fix a majority of the mechanical issue’s trucks may have on the spot.
If a customer is in need of service back at a terminal, Lesnik will gladly make time to work on the down truck.
Kenworth Master Technicians attend to customers without the benefit of working with a team. The expectation is that technicians who earn Kenworth Master Technician status have the knowledge they need to efficiently provide service to their customers and answer any maintenance-related questions they may have.
“With the training and experience I have, I’m prepared to quickly diagnose a problem, fix it and get the truck operator back on the road in a timely manner,” Lesnik said. “Any part that can be spec’d in a Kenworth truck, we’re prepared to service.”
Lesnik often finds she is the only woman in the workplace. But she says that isn’t a problem for her as she continues to prove that women are just as capable as men when servicing trucks.
“Every so often, I’ll meet with a customer and they will have a surprised look on their face when they see me,” Lesnik said. “I don’t think it’s on purpose, it’s just that there are so few women that work in our industry. But once I get to work, they soon realize that I know my way around a truck and are appreciative of the work that I’m doing.”
According to Lesnik, the support she’s received from her Edmonton Kenworth during her tenure with the dealer group has allowed her to be confident in her pursuit of achieving Kenworth’s highest service certification.
“Since my first day with Edmonton Kenworth, the staff there have treated me just like everyone else, which is what I want,” Lesnik said. “As long as you’re capable of doing the work, that’s all that matters. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a man or a woman. The close relationships I’ve made over the years and the encouragement I’ve received to go after the Kenworth Master Technician certification helped a lot.”
Women in Trades
In Lesnik’s spare time, she volunteers with CAREERS: Young Women in Trades & Technology, attending career fairs to educate young women about the opportunities that are available as a service technician in the trucking industry.
“It’s easy for girls to assume that working on trucks is a skillset only men have, but that simply isn’t true,” Lesnik said. “My mom’s support gave me the confidence to enter the field and prove I’m good at what I do. I want to encourage young women that they can be successful in this industry. I love what I do and wouldn’t change anything for the world.”