Originally posted on Hinds Community College Foundation.
Keith Steen counts himself a lucky man. With an associate degree from Hinds and career and technical certificates from the Diesel Technology Academy, the 23-year-old Steen is on the road to early success in his new career as a diesel mechanic with Empire Truck Sales.
“I have heard it said that if you find work that you love doing, you’ll never work a day in your life,” Steen said.
He grew up around big trucks because his dad ran a small trucking company. Even as a kid, Steen knew he wanted to work on big engines.
“I knew a lot coming in, but that doesn’t matter because I will always be learning. It’s a difficult job. It’s frustrating some days because it is a harder machine to work on,” Steen said. “There are some days when I have to take a breath, step back and just think about it for a minute.
“You’re always learning here,” Steen said. He’s planning to take more classes in the future to increase his certifications and capabilities and said that’s what it takes to keep up with technology and stay on the cutting edge.
Steen participated in the Hinds sponsored Diesel Mechanic Registered Apprenticeship Program through the U.S. Department of Labor. He successfully completed his three-year apprenticeship program with Empire Truck Sales in December 2022.
The Empire Truck Sales team is dedicated to investing in their employees and continuously providing excellent training opportunities so apprentices can continue growing their careers at the company.
Service Manager David Arendale, who has over 40 years in the trucking industry, said the partnership with Hinds has brought them a lot of expertise.
“We’ve seen a lot of good guys come through here from Hinds,” Arendale said. “These guys in here are highly trained mechanics. We weed them out, but when they come in here, they find out if they’re really going to do this,” Arendale laughs. “Once they finish Hinds, we start really breaking it down for them, but Hinds turns out really good technicians.”
Steen said he has valued the partnership between Empire Truck Sales and Hinds.
“I got my foot in the door here, and the growth I’ve had has really helped me go a long way,” said Steen, adding, “there’s job security here – the trucking industry isn’t going anywhere and its only growing.”