Toyota Material Handling sweeps TMHG Global Skills Competition
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Shawn Dickmeyer earns Gold in the welding category and joins Kim Douglass (gold, Assembly) as the first two TMH gold medalists in international competition
Shawn Dickmeyer, a Toyota Material Handling (TMH) associate, is being celebrated by his colleagues for a historic win at the 2022 Global Skills Competition hosted by the Toyota Material Handling Group (TMHG) in Takahama, Japan, last month, earning a gold medal in the Welding category. Dickmeyer beat competitors from other Toyota group companies based in China, France, Italy, and Sweden, as well as additional U.S. participants during the annual international competition.
Dickmeyer earned the distinct honor of becoming the first TMH representative to ever win gold in the Welding category. Fellow TMH associate Kim Douglass took home the gold for Assembly, meaning TMH swept the highly competitive event for the first time in company history.
“Shawn came out on top against some of the most skilled competitors in the world, showcasing on a global stage the character, skill, and talent our associates possess at Toyota Material Handling,” said Tony Miller, TMH Senior Vice President of Operations, Engineering & Strategic Planning. “We are all very proud of the hard work Shawn invested in preparation for this competition and the manner in which he represented our organization. Shawn and Kim have set a new standard for excellence that will be hard to match, but one we hope will motivate others for years to come.”
Dickmeyer credits veteran TMH competitors, Phil Roberts and Leon Moore, as the inspiration behind his victory. Of his nearly 13 years at TMH, Dickmeyer spent the last three in the training department working alongside Roberts and Moore, helping them prepare for their competitions, conducting welding tests for new hires, and processing materials for the welding dojo. Roberts and Moore eventually convinced Dickmeyer to compete, supporting and coaching him for hours each day for an entire year prior to the competition.
Before advancing to the global competition and a nine-day trip to Japan, Dickmeyer first proved his superior skills against other hopeful competitors from other Toyota group companies in North America during a regional competition. Despite the confidence he gained from his initial win, Dickmeyer saw himself as more of an underdog than the favorite in a “stacked” competition.
“Competing next to the other contestants in Japan created a lot more pressure than I had anticipated,” Dickmeyer recalls. “I tried to use music and chewing gum to help calm my nerves.”
Rather than get sidetracked by anxiety, Dickmeyer threw himself into the familiar routine he had practiced over the previous 12 months, determined to block out distractions and stay focused on the end goal: welding a vessel and a complicated joint in less than 40 minutes. Competitors are judged on criteria such as weld size, position, appearance, and testing the vessel up to a certain level of PSI pressure.
While the time Dickmeyer spent behind the torch remains somewhat of a blur, the experience that followed will likely never fade.
“When they announced I had won gold, the feeling was indescribable. The flood of different emotions was pretty intense,” Dickmeyer said. “Winning gold was pretty special, but for both Kim and I to win gold in the same year was incredible. That was the goal going in, but we knew it would be tough to achieve. I’m so thankful we were able to do it together.”
In honor of their historic achievement, TMH dedicated a special day to celebrate each of their returning champions, complete with congratulatory signs and banners, a cafeteria offering based on their favorite meals, and gold cookies with red, white, and blue ribbons attached to them. Dickmeyer said he was overwhelmed by the countless congratulatory messages he received from his colleagues.
“It was humbling to have TMH take the time to put together a day in my honor. Toyota is and always has been a special place to work because they truly care for the people that work here,” Dickmeyer said. “It also brought awareness to the TMHG Global Skills Competition, which I think is important because it truly is a life-changing opportunity. It was a unique privilege to experience the Japanese culture. It is such a beautiful place, and I would tell anyone thinking of competing in the future to just go for it. It is the trip of a lifetime, and this process will definitely help you grow in more ways than you could ever imagine.”
Dickmeyer and Douglass’ wins are a testament to TMH’s industry-leading reputation of dedication to innovation, quality, and service. The full-line material handling solutions provider and North America’s leading manufacturer of forklifts maintains a constant focus on delivering the highest quality and believes in the concept of ‘Kaizen’, or continuous improvement, in every aspect of its business.
“I am so thankful to everyone who helped me throughout this process, especially Brad Cater, who consistently critiqued my practice sessions and pushed me to be the best I could be,” Dickmeyer said.