Published March 24, 2021

Apprentices eager to work thanks to partnership between Hinds CC, Empire

The partnership between the Hinds Diesel Equipment Technology program and Empire Truck Sales has turned into potential high-earning careers for 11 newly-registered Diesel Mechanic Apprentices at the company’s Richland location.
By: Danny Barrett Jr.

RAYMOND – The partnership between the Hinds Diesel Equipment Technology program and Empire Truck Sales has turned into potential high-earning careers for 11 newly-registered Diesel Mechanic Apprentices at the company’s Richland location.

“I grew up on a farm, around all the equipment I used to work on with my family. I’ve always been hands-on – tearing down things and rebuilding them,” said Dustin Tew, of Magee, among the apprentices who achieved their Registered Apprentice status through the U.S. Department of Labor.

All graduated from the program at Hinds and have moved seamlessly into the industry. The 11 were recently selected to participate in the Empire Truck Sales Apprenticeship Program which is sponsored by Hinds Community College. The full list consists of:

  • Colby Cockrell, of Magee
  • Jordan Coleman, of Jackson
  • Trey Harris, of Brandon
  • Austin Hill, of Florence
  • Darius Jackson, of Clinton
  • David McGowan, of Byram
  • Cordarryl Nichols, of Canton
  • Jacob St. Amant, of Flowood
  • Kade Stennett, of Magee
  • Keith Steen, of Georgetown
  • Dustin Tew, of Magee

Supervisors at Empire are mentors to the apprentices along the way, providing invaluable insight and career guidance.

“Having a mentor is most important because you always have to look up to somebody who already has experience,” said apprentice Darius Jackson, who is pursuing a full Associate of Applied Science credential from the college. “The fun part is when the job is done, when you have the finished product.”

Combining hands-on training with a chance to talk to longtime industry professionals will give them a leg up on their careers.

“I grew up around mechanics,” said apprentice Trey Harris. “My dad was a trailer mechanic and my grandfather was a diesel mechanic. When I was at the academy, we were doing transmissions. The next day I went to work, I ended up applying what I learned in the transmission and put it toward the job.”

Bob Bullard, general service manager for Empire Truck Sales, touted the value of the Diesel Equipment Technology program being certified in certain areas by Daimler Trucks North America as a huge plus toward quality workmanship.

“The importance the apprenticeship program brings is a structured way of making sure you get a well-rounded employee. The partnership Hinds has developed with Empire has made the end product better than it’s ever been before.”

Hinds Community College is a partner of the Mississippi Apprenticeship Program (MAP). Funding for the MAP program is provided by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security and via the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. WIOA is an equal opportunity program.