If Steve Harris could find three diesel mechanics to work in the service department of Sioux Falls Ford in Sioux Falls, S.D., he would hire them now.
"Everybody's hurting for good qualified diesel technicians," he says.
The shortage of diesel mechanics is acute for dealerships where the oil and gas industry is booming or, as in the case of Sioux Falls Ford, where big agriculture dominates.
But elsewhere diesel mechanics can be hard to find, too. They require extra training and perform specialized work that's increasingly sophisticated and technical.
Dealers particularly value diesel mechanics because they keep important customers happy: owners of big-ticket pickups, such as the Ford F-series Super Duty, who rely on their diesel vehicles for their livelihoods.
"Our diesel techs don't change tires," says Harris, the fixed operations manager at the dealership. "They don't do front-end work. They just work on diesel pickups."
Mike Sutton, fixed operations director of Mac Haik Chevrolet in Houston, says his service department sells a lot of diesel pickups to commercial customers.
"We do a fair amount of fleet business here. There's no question, when these vehicles come in, the only reason we have any fleet business is we work to get those vehicles out quickly. Those vehicles are money" to the dealership.