The makeshift parking lot gets little attention until the time comes for needed help. The area designated as the “service yard” at Bassmaster Elite Series tournaments is a collection of trucks and trailers, all manned by skilled, factory-trained technicians. They can perform any job and regardless of the brand, they all have the same goal. That is quick turnaround for any issues that might arise with the anglers’ boats and trailers.
“We want to get them back in action as quickly as possible,” said Andy Stallings. “Down time can be costly.”
Stallings should know. There is no designated pecking order or perks of seniority. If there were, Stallings would be pretty high on the list. He’s done tournament service technician work now for nearly 20 years, beginning with Stratos Boats and Triton Boats, for whom he drove a 53-foot tractor trailer loaded with merchandise and boat parts. Now, he is with Phoenix Boats, the boat builder located in southern Middle Tennessee.
“I plan to stay there until I retire,” he said. “Just good people and a great product.”
That won’t be anytime soon. Stallings likes his job, the people, the life on the road. Here’s more about his job and travels.
Where are you from and how much do you travel?
I live in Lebanon, Tenn., and work out of Winchester, Tenn., at the Phoenix Boats factory. I travel about 225 days each year.
What is your job title and how long have you been at it?
My job title is tournament support specialist. I help the anglers at the tournament with any issues they might have. I have been with Phoenix Boats for three years.
How do you travel and what’s in the truck?
I drive a Dodge Ram 3500 with slide outs for tools and parts. I carry boat trailer parts, pumps, lights and the hardware needed to work on the boats.
What kind of service do you perform?
It depends on the areas that we go to. Most of the time it’s minor things. These guys travel so much, they are putting 50,000 miles on a trailer every year, and that’s more than the average guy will do in the lifespan of his boat. I do work on trailers, making sure seals, brakes and bearings are good.
What does your work week look like?
We come into town and check in our hotels, check out the restaurant scene. We all get set up in the designated service yard. All of them are different. We want the boats to easily get in and out. During practice we are usually at the service yard from 8 a.m. until 6 o’clock. During tournament days it’s before daylight and past dark. We all go to the takeoff site, regardless of whether or not someone has an issue. It’s better to be there, get on it, than waiting to get a call in the service yard.
You mentioned food. That’s pretty important with this group. Why so?
(laughs) When you are in a town for a week you want food options. We try and find food that everybody likes, because a lot of times we all eat together. Service is important. We are in the service business out here, and we don’t like slow or inconsistent service. We can tolerate not the best food, but the service needs to be good.
I am a meat eater and like steak. Texas Roadhouse is one of our favorites. Good consistent food and service.
What is one tool you cannot do without?
My tool bag. I carry the basic tools and some hardware. My impact driver, wrenches, wire ties. That bag is very important to me, because I can use the tools to start working on a job and then go from there.
What do you most like about your job?
The people I work with because they are like family. I see them more than I do my wife. We travel to a lot of pretty areas.
What do you do away from work?
We have a small farm. My wife has horses. I like to do woodwork in my shop, work on small engines, and ride my tractor around the property. It’s very relaxing.