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Western Colorado Community College’s Transportation Services Program offers a heavy duty diesel mechanic certificate and degree, which attracted a new partnership with Wagner Equipment Company. As part of the new partnership, Wagner Equipment Company is paying its employees’ WCCC tuition. This apprenticeship program was developed in response to the nationwide diesel mechanic shortage that also affects western Colorado.  WCCC’s Learn for Less affordability initiative reduced tuition by 40%, which allows Wagner Equipment Company to offer this opportunity to more students. 

“Wagner Equipment’s goal for this program is to always have a fresh class of students that want to be diesel technicians going in, and to provide long-term quality employment for them when they graduate,” said Grand Junction Parts and Service Manager Tom Catt. “We want to keep local people here and we want to grow this business from the ground up in the local area.”  

Wagner Equipment Company sells, rents and performs complete rebuilds and refurbishments on Caterpillar heavy equipment such as backhoe loaders, dozers and excavators. The company has 12 locations in addition to the Grand Junction branch — eight in Colorado, three in New Mexico and one in Texas.

“I’m very thankful for what CAT is doing for me so that I can go on to make more money and be more successful in life,” said student-apprentice Bobbie Wallace. “The world needs more mechanics, especially diesel mechanics. Any shop you walk into in the country is hiring and our economy depends heavily on truckers and construction equipment. I’m just doing my part to make the world a better place and I’m ecstatic about the opportunity to learn from Rob, Mike, Jason and Jim at WCCC. They are excellent mentors.” 

Since 1881 Grand Junction has grown into a booming hub for distribution because of its position along Interstate 70 and the other major trucking routes that intersect here. Central Distributing Company is just one of the many large companies that strategically chose Grand Junction for its headquarters. With a fleet of more than 70 semi-trucks, that require routine maintenance and repairs by a team of diesel mechanics like the ones who graduate from WCCC’s program, they serve over 2,200 customers across western Colorado and eastern Utah delivering more than 7,200 general merchandise products. 

In this busy area, heavy machinery is at work in construction and agriculture every day while hundreds of trucks full of baby formula, groceries, medical supplies and retail goods pass through. There are dozens of understaffed diesel shops in the Grand Valley working tirelessly to keep these machines out working the land and making timely deliveries to communities. Opportunities for diesel mechanics are abundant and so is the pay. WCCC is continually finding ways to support our local and national economy by equipping the next generation with diesel technicians that keep it in motion.

If you are a business or organization that wants to partner with WCCC, please contact Vice President for Community College Affairs Brigitte Sundermann at 970.255.2700.


Written by Hannah Odneal