Two Women Techs Compete in Rush Tech Skills Rodeo

After two years of holding the event virtually, Rush Enterprises Inc. launched its 17th annual truck technical competition in-person on December 11. This year, the event experienced a first in that they had two women techs competing.

Participants in the Tech Skills Rodeo compete in hands-on and written challenges to test their expertise in a range of categories.

When Jody Pollard, senior vice president of truck sales and aftermarket sales, announced that this year’s Rush Truck Centers Tech Skills Rodeo in San Antonio would have two female technicians, the place erupted.

Both ladies competing are incredibly skilled. Keep reading to learn about their work and their stories.

Kelby Moore, Beaumont, Texas

After a double mastectomy, Kelby doesn’t do big clutch jobs anymore. The operation needed to save her life resulted in a lot of lost muscle through her chest making it difficult to move a 1,300-pound transmission. In addition, she’s also battling some short-term memory issues as a result of the chemotherapy, which along with the surgery sent her cancer into remission. This means that she sometimes picks the wrong word in a sentence, but dang if she still doesn’t know her way around a truck.

“I did OK,” said the humble Afghan veteran. “I made it here. That’s fantastic in itself.”

Moore is one of 200 Rush Truck Center techs that made it to the competition. 2,000 Rush employees took 3,400 tests, and these 200 are the best of the best.

From military service to the service bay

In 2007, Moore joined the Army and was deployed to Afghanistan, where she was a driver. She used to quiz the mechanics about what was wrong with her truck whenever it broke down.

“Trucks to me are a big logic puzzle,” she says.

After returning from active duty, staying with trucks was a natural transition. She attended Universal Technical Institute and went through Peterbilt’s Technician Institute while continuing service through the Army Reserve.

She, in fact, had reported for duty with the Reserve just the weekend before and was a bit worn down from her service there, then driving from Beaumont to San Antonio.

Moore was a shop foreman with Rush’s leasing shop before her husband, a mobile technician, convinced her to move over to the truck center. There, she was excited to get to work on all brands with all kinds of challenges.

Her experience with this male-dominated field

Her Army background helps keep most of the jeers at bay, “but I’m not going to say it never happens,” Moore said. She speaks to the fact that some drivers don’t want a woman technician touching their truck, but for others, they prefer a woman.

She recalls an encounter with a car hauler who came in asking for her specifically because he feels that female techs are more meticulous and work harder to get to where they are.

“Female techs are just awesome,” Moore says the driver said. “They do things so much better.”

Se’ara Hart, Boise, Idaho

For Se’ara, her path to this line of work started with a love of loud Japanese cars with flashy paint jobs. This area of interest led to a program in high school that she admits she didn’t take seriously. However, after graduating a year early, she thought maybe it was time to get serious, so she enrolled in a local college program lasting two years.

Now, at age 21, she’s painting medium- and heavy-duty trucks.

“I never imagined I’d be doing this,” Hart said with a chuckle. “I really like it a lot.”

Challenges and variety

Hart says she love the variety that working at Rush Truck Center gives her, saying that she could be painting a truck or a school bus at any given time.

“It’s like I’m doing something different every day. I’m always trying to challenge myself,” Hart says, adding that she loves learning something in the process.

The competition

The Tech Rodeo paint challenge is no walk in the park. Participants were presented with a truck hood in three colors which were specifically chosen as the most challenging three colors to work with. The painted hoods were then damaged with scratches which the techs needed to sand out and blend – without any proper paint codes, leaving the techs to figure those out on their own.

“It was very hard for everyone,” Hart says. “It was very challenging but a good challenging.”

Competitors were judged on everything they did throughout the process. “It’s difficult not to overthink it,” she says. “Yesterday, I was feeling pretty good.” After pondering it a moment longer she added, “Honestly, I would love to be even in second place.”