Career Development

Can an Internet community help fight the Maintenance Crisis?

Joel Leonard and Plant Services launch SkillTV to elevate the crusade against the Maintenance Crisis to a new level.

By Joel Leonard, contributing editor

Many of you know that we started a crusade against the Maintenance Crisis more than five years ago. After banging our heads against their ignorance and apathy for many years, leaders of business and government systems are finally catching on. We just hope that they’ll get busy to avert more preventable disasters from occurring.

I recently returned from keynoting the Canadian Engineering Conference, a first for a Southerner. After they got past my North Carolina accent, the audience got really excited about joining the fight against the maintenance crisis. I discovered that most electricians in Canada make $50 an hour and they’re struggling to find qualified talent as the bulk of their workers retire and many others are being lured by high pay to the tar sands of Alberta. Manufacturers have a severe challenge on their hands.

The start of a new year is a good reason to begin a new venture. To me, it’s the perfect time to take the crusade against the maintenance crisis to a new and exciting level. So I and Putman Media, Inc., publishers of Plant Services and eight other industrial publications, are launching a new, Internet-based TV show called SkillTV (

How can maintenance professionals be viewed as professionals? How can the world outside of industry learn about advances in maintenance? How can we get more support? When will we no longer have to fight for the resources we need? How can we fix maintenance? When will supporting maintenance become common practice?

These are tough questions and not something that any one person can address. However, if enough maintenance professionals speak up for our profession and spread the news that maintenance can be a profit contributor, we’ll make progress in overcoming the enormous challenges that confront our function.

On SkillTV, we  interview industry experts and government officials to counterbalance the false negative images of our function. We provide you with more tools to help you secure more support and resources to fully capture the maintenance profit potential available in our industry.

Interviews now at or on their way to SkillTV include:

  • John Ratzenberger, host of the Travel Channel’s “Made in America,” discusses his transition from being Clifford Clavin of “Cheers” to becoming host of the Travel Channel’s “Made in America,” and leader of town hall sessions.
  • Greg Stockton, president of Stockton Infrared Thermographic Services, explains the fascinating power of infrared technologies and the applications available for industry to ensure product quality, reliability and improving sustainability.
  • Joyce Goia, president of the Herman Group, examines upgrading recruitment, retention, development efforts and other challenges that businesses will face as Boomers retire.
  • Yvonne Johnson, mayor of Greensboro, N.C., discusses the role of businesses, schools and government in breaking down traditional stereotypes by developing creative systems that develop more valuable skills and secure more livable wages.
  • Tom White, N.C. Dept. of Commerce, talks about the state’s economic transition from losing more than 200,000 jobs in five years to becoming one of the fastest-growing states in the nation.
  • John Cawthron, CEO of TIMCO Aviation, explains the challenges of building a $300 million company into a billion-dollar winner during the next five years.
  • Derrick Giles, president of Enpulse Energy, describes the emergence of the Green-collar function and importance of changing business culture to capture the full profit potential by going green.
  • Russ Read, executive director of National Center for Biotech Workforce, emphasizes the critical role maintenance plays in the emerging biotech industry.
  • Pete Little, president of MPACT Learning Center, joins me in role-playing a newly appointed CEO and the wise engineer who stands up to a short-sighted decision to cut headcount. It won’t win an Oscar, but it might inspire more maintenance professionals to not just roll over when maintenance headcounts are ordered.

As with my column, your feedback about what you like or dislike and your suggestions (or submissions) for SkillTV will be much appreciated. I hope you'll continue to be a regular reader of my column and become a regular viewer of SkillTV. Please tune in and give it a try at

E-mail Contributing Editor Joel Leonard at

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