Service yard saviors: Dan Tucker

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Craig Lamb

You might notice something out of place when visiting the service yard at any Bassmaster Elite Series event. The service techs wearing shirts bearing the logos of their respective brands might occasionally be working with the competition.

Let Dan Tucker explain why that is not at all out of place. 

“A lot of people outside the tournaments might not understand why we do that,” he says. “It’s because we all have the same goal, which is to help the anglers get back on the water.” 

Tucker, who wears the Yamaha logo, goes on to explain the unwritten code of duty among his peers. Everyone first tends to their own business, and when time allows, they pitch in for the common good.  

“The pros are here to compete and support their livelihood, and they don’t make money when they aren’t on the water. We want to get them back out there as soon as we can so they can do their job.”

That is catching fish. Tucker’s job as a service technician is to support the pros running Yamaha outboards, and as he says, lend a helping hand to his peers when time allows.

Tucker took a break during the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Elite at Winyah Bay to talk about his life on the road. Here is what he had to say.

Where are you from and how much do you travel?

I’m from La Vergne, Tenn., which is just outside of Nashville. I travel about 200 days a year.

What is your job title, and how long have you been at it?

I am a Yamaha service technician. I’ve been with Yamaha for 13 years. Before that I was with another boat group, doing the same job.

Beyond the technical training what does it take to be good at your job?

People skills. You’ve got to be good with dealing with people. Everyone is different and we work with the same guys on the tour. Understanding each person’s personality makes the job a lot easier.

What’s in the trailer and what kind of work can you do?

It is like a 32-foot mobile dealership service department. I can do anything from minor repairs up to power heads, lower units. Pretty much anything.

What kind of service do you perform?

It’s mostly props. Props are going to get dinged in shallow water. But beyond that, not much. Our V MAX SHO (Super High Output) outboards are so reliable and durable. We rarely have any field issues with them. Just a great performing motor.

What does your work week look like?

We usually arrive the day before practice, get set up in the service yard. During practice we are in the yard as needed, usually up until 6 o’ clock. We take care of any issues the fishermen have and get them back on the water as soon as possible. They don’t have any time to waste.

What about during tournament days?

We arrive about an hour before takeoff and stay until the very last boat is repaired. That can be late depending on where we are.

Late means what?

Well, it depends on where we are based on the layout of the lake. Some places are less friendly on the equipment than others. Here, for example, there is a lot of shallow water, the tide going in and out, and unmarked bottom hazards. It might be working on lower units, where on a deep lake there will be fewer issues.

You mention “we” a lot. What does that mean?

The “we” are the entire service crew, all of us. We work together. We make sure everyone is finished for the day, and we don’t leave until then. Part of that is for safety precautions so no one is working alone. But it’s also just the way we are.

How’s that?

We spend more time together than we do with our families, so we are like a family. And that’s how you treat a family. A lot of people don’t understand why we work together, regardless of the brand. For me that could even be helping lend a tool to the Mercury or Evinrude guys.

That’s a noble thing to do.

Yes, it is but at the end of the day we all have the same goal, which is to get all the guys taken care of, because that’s what we are here for. If they are out fishing and do well, the rest takes care of itself.

What is one tool you cannot do without?

(laughs) My prop wrench. I use it more than I do any other tool. 

Do you have any travel quirks?

Most hotel pillows are no good. I try and bring a pillow from home. If I forget to bring it, then I might go out and buy one.

What do you most like about your job?

I enjoy the travel. When time allows then we play tourist, and go out and see some of the local sights. I also like the people. Like I said, we are like family.