CHARLOTTE, Mich., Oct. 24, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- What started out as a simple vision for Spartan Motors, Inc. co-founder Bill Foster, has stood the test of time as the company recently completed its 20 th Annual Fire Truck Training Conference (FTTC) in Lansing, Michigan at the Lansing Center. Spartan Chassis, Inc. ("Spartan" or "Company"), a business unit of Spartan Motors, Inc. (Nasdaq:SPAR), hosted its annual five-day technician training conference focused on maximizing value through preventative maintenance. The event experienced a 15-percent participant increase over 2013, as 166-fire truck technicians from across the United States, South America and Canada attended.

Technicians prepared for Emergency Vehicle Technician (EVT) certification exams held during the week. Throughout the duration of the event, 224 EVT certification tests were completed, a 50% increase in the number of tests completed during last year's training conference. The 224 completed tests during FTTC currently ranks third in the United States in 2014, behind Texas and Florida with 258 and 243, respectively.

"When Spartan started the Fire Truck Training Conference in the mid 1990s, we averaged roughly 30-40 attendees. Now, we regularly welcome over 100 individuals on a yearly basis for FTTC," said Foster, Vice President of Spartan Motors, Inc. "Over that time, the complexities of the fleets have also become more intricate. Emergency response vehicles are depended upon daily by the communities they serve, so keeping them in safe, working condition is vital. It is imperative that we offer the required training needed for the service technician to maintain the fleet for the community. Encouraging improved fleet management, minimizing the cost of repairs and reducing equipment downtime has always been our focus, but are now major priorities for fire departments already facing intense financial pressures."

With service personnel unable to continue their education beyond Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification, Foster set out 20 years ago to establish a curriculum to train mechanics with Spartan products. After spending the first few years in Olivet, Michigan at Olivet College, Foster and Spartan began to see increased demand to attend the Fire Truck Training Conference, thus forcing Spartan to seek a larger venue for the event. The Company proceeded with its conference and utilized facilities at Michigan State University and the Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek before establishing roots at the Lansing Center.

The 2014 conference featured over 40 seminars with a focus on three professional levels including: (i) Basic Operation and Maintenance, (ii) Service Repair, (iii) Heavy Repair. Each seminar offered emergency response vehicle technicians a comprehensive understanding and hands-on demonstrations of the technical components and systems of the vehicle. Classes were led by training specialists from Spartan Chassis in partnership with major suppliers of emergency response equipment and systems.

The week featured several highlights including famed Texas trial lawyer Jim Juneau. Juneau held an interactive discussion on the legal obligations and potential liabilities of EVTs and the departments where they work, using examples from real-life incidents and cases. Prior to Juneau's presentation, Bill Foster was honored by his colleague and long-time friend, Jimmy Faulkner, of Dallas Fire-Rescue. Faulkner spoke of Foster's passion and dedication to the Emergency Response industry. A plaque expressing thanks and gratitude was presented to Foster which brought the crowd to their feet.

Other highlights included Chief Steve Lohr of Montgomery County Fire & Rescue who presented an analysis and review of the MCFRS fleet experience with safety culture and vehicle enhancements in a large metropolitan fire rescue fleet. The week was rounded out with the annual plant tour of the Spartan headquarters.

The annual FTTC is a component of Spartan's D.R.I.V.E. initiative, with it building excited customers and brand loyalists. FTTC's purpose is to provide technicians with knowledge unattainable elsewhere.

D.R.I.V.E. is Spartan's operating strategy based on five tenets:
  • Diversified Growth
  • Redefining Technology and Innovation
  • Integrated Operational Excellence
  • Vibrant Culture
  • Excited Consumers/Brand Loyalists

About Spartan Chassis, Inc.

Spartan Chassis, Inc. is a world-class leader in the engineering, manufacturing and marketing of chassis and aftermarket parts for emergency-response, recreational vehicle (RV), defense and specialty vehicles. End users recognize and request the Spartan Chassis brand, which consistently delivers superior performance, exceptional safety ratings and innovations which distinguish us from the competition. Visit Spartan Chassis at

About Spartan Motors

Spartan Motors, Inc. designs, engineers and manufactures specialty chassis, specialty vehicles, truck bodies and aftermarket parts for the recreational vehicle, emergency response, government services, defense, and delivery and service markets. The company's brand names - Spartan™, Spartan ERV™ and Utilimaster® - are known for quality, performance, service and first-to-market innovation. The company employs approximately 1,700 associates at facilities in Michigan, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Indiana and Florida. Spartan reported sales of $470 million in 2013 and is focused on becoming a global leader in the design, engineering and manufacture of specialty vehicles and chassis. Visit Spartan Motors at
CONTACT: Russell T. Chick         Corporate Director of Marketing         Spartan Motors, Inc.         517.997.3852