H.K. Truck Center
Hank Knabe has years of experience working in shops of different sizes. And in those shops, “it always looked like the techs were working in tiny cubicles,” Knabe laughs.Knabe decided that when he finally had the opportunity to open his own shop, which he did in 1997, he was going to do it right. He took all of the gripes he had about his former work environments—cramped workspaces, cluttered floors, inconsistent temperature, etc.—and turned his new facility into a shop that would make it as easy as possible for his staff to get work done.
1 Knabe had H.K. Truck Center’s facility built from the ground up, working with his architect to ensure the space would meet the demands of not only the technicians, but also the vehicles the facility would service. The first notable feature in the design was the doors, which measure 18 feet wide by 14 feet high—4 feet wider, Knabe says, than the average door. Those measurements give his team plenty of space on either side of the vehicle when moving it into the bay.
2 The 12 bays in the shop are also larger than typical; each door is 22 feet wide by 35 feet long. About a year ago, the shop decided to assign each technican his or her own bay, something that Knabe says has been extremely effective. “They keep their bays cleaner, they keep their tools and equipment more organized and they feel more responsible this way,” he says.
3 One of the biggest complaints that Knabe had when he was working in other facilities was rolling over oil or air lines. At H.K. Truck Center, those lines are hung overhead, which frees up work spaces for techs.
4 Knabe says that the temperature of the shop was another source of frustration for him. The staff was never comfortable—they were either too hot or too cold. In order to keep H.K. Truck Center at an ideal temperature, Knabe installed infrared heating, which was calculated out to remain at a constant, comfortable temperature. During the summer, Knabe has his staff keep the bay doors open when they’re working. With bays located on both sides of the shop, the air flows through and keeps the shop cool.
5 The shop floor isn’t the only area that Knabe put a lot of thought into. Working with huge trucks, the parking lot had to have the capacity to fit all of the work the shop sees. The gated parking lot can fit 85 trucks.
6 Knabe started out as a mobile technician and hasn’t strayed far from his roots—he even has the truck he used to do repairs onsite at the shop. Now, the shop has two trucks that offer mobile service with H.K. Truck Center’s branding all over them.
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