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Talent, technology, training take Mickey engineering to new level

Home » The Mickey Spirit » Talent, technology, training take Mickey engineering to new level
New 3D modeling system lets engineers run through sophisticated design scenarios before going to prototype.

New 3D modeling system lets engineers run through sophisticated design scenarios before going to prototype.

When Noel DiBona took the helm of Mickey engineering earlier this year, his challenge was the same as the companywide charge: take the team, its capabilities and its output from “good to great.”

No small feat considering it was Mickey that ushered the industry into all-aluminum body and trailer construction some three decades ago, and since then pioneered such breakthrough features as one-piece skins, low working profiles, machine castings, a patented All Weather Door-Loc™ system and “Easy Shift” adjustable bay shelving.

While the advances in engineering today versus past incarnations may be more evolutionary than revolutionary, they will be game-changing nonetheless thanks to the current team’s deep and diverse talents, landmark technology, relationship training and, as always, an unwavering commitment to 100% customer satisfaction.

The engineering process is centered on Mickey’s unique service delivery model, which begins with understanding customer needs and then developing solutions by combining historical design work with current technology. “We spend a lot of time talking to our customers, and they are clearly telling us that they need greater automation throughout their delivery systems,” says Noel. “Our new E-Lock keyless locking system is a great example. We’re working on automating other parts of the truck to make the driver’s job easier and the business more profitable. We’re moving away from designing products and features towards designing turnkey delivery solutions that address issues like ergonomics, workers’ comp, route consolidation, load diversity.”

Another objective of the engineering team is to shorten the time it takes to launch new innovations. “We’re going from idea to design to prototype to market much faster by better managing our resources of manpower, skill sets, manufacturing capacity and capabilities,” Noel explains. “We’re developing the concept design much faster with more reliable designs thanks to better analytical capabilities, a completely new 3D modeling system and a set of powerful product data management tools.” This modern design and engineering technology “enables the team to run through sophisticated real-world, real-assembly what-if scenarios before we even go to prototype. We can design and build from scratch or we can quickly make improvements to existing products without having to reinvent the mousetrap.”

The technological prowess behind Mickey engineering notwithstanding, it’s the combination of man and machine that drive’s the team’s success. Utilization of the engineering resources are carefully matched with specific skills, experience, training and even interests of the individual engineers. (See sidebar: Who’s Who in Mickey Engineering).

“We have a tremendous diversity of talent on this team,” says Noel. “We have expertise in refrigeration, prototyping, testing and evaluation, fabrication, materials science – and we brainstorm with all that expertise. For example, we combine all of our individual knowledge and experience to truly understand how we can make our bodies and trailers more structurally durable, safer and more profitable per payload. And when we combine our individual expertise into a cohesive think tank, there’s no limit to what we can create. Right now we are working on a specialty unit that can handle difficult dessert terrain under stressful conditions.”

To succeed at this high level of new product development, there’s a “tremendous focus” on team synergy; “the human aspect,” according to Noel. “We’re a partnership, an equal partnership, in fact, when it comes to our output. We cannot work in silos. In addition to knowing each other’s professional strengths, we must recognize and understand individual personalities and behaviors. And not just within the engineering team but for all the teams inside our company – sales, purchasing, manufacturing, QC. We’re all connected.”

Noel and his colleagues have engaged with the High Point-based BB&T Leadership Institute, part of BB&T Corporation, one of the largest financial services holding companies in the U.S. Working with the Institute, Mickey’s engineering team is committed to increasing its financial and operational performance, enhancing risk management of its human resources and business activities, and creating a values-driven culture – all under the big picture objective of sustaining and improving team synergy. At the core of the training is a series of team building and communications workshops, supported by carefully and accurately created personality profiles for each engineer.

It may all sound like business-speak hyperbole, but Noel breaks it down to a much simpler concept. “Everything we do, from technology to training to team building, we do for one reason: to help Mickey Truck Bodies build better solutions for its customers and get these solutions to market faster and more economically, always surpassing the customer’s expectations.”

e team 2015

The Mickey “E-Team” (clockwise from left): Brandon Miller, Steve Martin, Marlowe Bright, Milton Hogan, Stephen Gardner, John Pierce, Kevin Gentle, Carl Bracken, John Robinson, Molly Norman, Nick Pfeifer and Noel DiBona.

Who’s Who in Mickey Engineering

Noel DiBona, VP Engineering and R&D
30 years experience
5 years with MTB
Schoolboy hobby: Building mini-bikes and go carts

John Pierce, Engineering Manager – Side Loading Equipment, Van & Vending, Emergency Vehicles
32 years experience in design & manufacturing of semi-trailers and truck bodies
6 years with MTB
Schoolboy hobby: Building model cars and mini-bikes

Milton Hogan, Design Engineer – Van Body
3 years experience
1 year with MTB
Schoolboy hobby: Fishing

John M. Robinson II, Project Engineer
7 years experience with drafting, machining & fabrication
2 years with MTB
Schoolboy hobby: Drag racing & baseball

Nick Pfeifer, Design Engineer – MEV and New Product Development
12 years experience, 10 years in Top Fuel Drag Racing
2 years at MTB
Schoolboy hobby: Golfing

Carl Bracken, Design Engineer – Beverage Bodies & Trailers
3 years experience
11 months with MTB
Schoolboy hobby: Fishing & soccer

Kevin Gentle, 3D CAD/PDM Engineering Specialist
17 years experience
9 months with MTB
Schoolboy hobby: Basketball

Marlowe Bright, Engineering Automation Manager
15 years experience in Engineering/Product Development/Design
1 year with MTB
Schoolboy hobby: Building/racing RC Cars, baseball

Brandon Miller, MEV/New Products Engineering Manager
7 years experience
4 years with MTB
Schoolboy hobby: Classic auto restoration

Stephen Gardner, Design Engineer – Emergency Vehicles line
10 years experience
3 years with MTB
Schoolboy hobby: Attending races at the local short track; playing all sports

Steve Martin, Design Engineer – Van Bodies
17 years experience
12 years with MTB
Schoolboy hobby: Martial Arts/kickboxing – retired as NC Kickboxing Champion; still practices and plans to teach

Molly Norman, Engineering Assistant
2 years experience
2 years with MTB
Schoolgirl hobby: Softball & waterskiing

Mickey Engineered Vehicles

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