VOLVO CE MASTERS: Past winners enthusiastically recommend participation in the next Volvo CE Masters competition

by Tony Lawrence

If any service technicians or parts specialists are wondering whether to take part in the 2015-16 Volvo CE Masters, then Chris Walker has just three words of advice: “Go for it!” Walker, a parts man based in Warrington, north-west England, was a member of the Volvo CE GB team that won the 2013-14 Masters. He remembers the competition as if it were yesterday.


“There is such a buzz about the Masters – I got so much out of it,” he says. “I learned things which I now use in my day-to-day work. It was fascinating to mix with people  doing the same job from other regions of the world, and hugely enjoyable – and it was also the most intense thing
I’ve ever done.


“If anyone asked me if they should take part, I’d say: don’t give it a second thought – sign up today!”


Matthew Needham and Billy Heywood

Matthew Needham and Billy Heywood


Walker’s passion for the event, which he won alongside team leader Mark Armsworth and his Warrington colleagues and friends Billy Heywood and Matthew Needham, delights competition spokesman Johan Klacksell.


Klacksell, Volvo CE Systems and Media Manager Global Competence Development, is part of the team organizing this year’s event, which starts in August 2015 and ends almost 13 months later.


“We had around 2,500 participants last time and we’re aiming to do better this time,” he says. “It’s a great competition and it’s growing.


“Sure, it’s fun, exciting and informative, but it also showcases how professional and passionate our service and parts staff are – in wanting to keep improving their skills, they’re a hugely valuable asset to the Volvo CE business.”


The Masters, launched in 1990 as an individual rather than a team event, is open to all parts and service technicians from authorized Volvo CE dealers. In the first rounds, they compete as individuals at dealership level, answering theoretical questions online.


The winners are then formed into teams and face both theoretical and practical tests as the event progresses through national, hub and regional rounds before two teams from each region – the Americas, APAC (Asia Pacific), China and EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) – qualify for the grand final in Eskilstuna, Sweden.


Matthew Needham

Matthew Needham


Besides showing their skills and knowledge, participants also have to demonstrate their professionalism and commitment to Volvo’s core values of quality, safety and environmental care as they work.


A large part of the event involves finding hidden faults in a variety of machines.


“Billy, Matt and I had been mates for a long time. We got more and more excited with each round,” recalls Walker. “I had entered the competition before but had not got beyond the UK final. This time, we became national champions and then went to Germany and Sweden in the following rounds. When we reached the final, we were ecstatic. We thought we had missed out, though, when we had a mishap on one machine – we found the fault but the capillary hose got caught in a hinge and caused an oil spillage. But we dealt with it in the right way, fortunately, so it wasn’t crucial.


“I had always wanted to go to Sweden to see how Volvo CE operates there. In all, we spent a week there and were really well looked after – there was even time to go sea fishing for crab.


“I came away from it with a huge sense of personal achievement. Since then, Matt has gone on to become a UK product specialist.


“When I started with Volvo, I cleaned the yard and helped in the warehouse. Now I’ve won the Masters, which is great. In future, I want to become parts supervisor and run the department.”