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Ascendum at the Volvo Masters World Final

Ascendum on its way to the Masters World Cup

02.05.2024

Bringing home the Volvo Masters 2024 European trophy is an unprecedented achievement for Ascendum and one that fills “coach” António José Santos with pride. The achievement is a great feat of which the four “Ascentugas” are also very proud: Telmo Amaro, Bruno Gaspar, João Tereso and Henrique Lopes, who got together for a tribute lunch in São João da Talha.

You only have to spend a few minutes with them to realize the team spirit that exists in the group and, at the same time, the family spirit that exists at Ascendum and that they also felt at Volvo.

The Call

It all started at the beginning of 2023, when João Velez, After Sales Director, challenged António José Santos to change the way the teams participating in the Volvo Masters were chosen. Instead of an internal competition, the bet would be to create a selection and include the best from the various business units.

From Porto came service technician Henrique Lopes, from Leiria came parts specialist Bruno Gaspar and service technician João Tereso, and from Lisbon came electrical expert and team leader Telmo Amaro. As soon as the team was formed, they went into action. The trials began with three online rounds that had to be passed in order to reach the European final, scheduled for February 2024 in Germany.

In this initial phase, Portugal competed in a group with Romania, the Czech Republic and Israel. In each round, a set of 30 questions had to be answered. Criteria such as speed, the reasoning behind the answers and the achievement of certain bonuses were assessed. However, the start of the race was not promising.

In the first round, which took place in April, the strategy was to hold a Teams meeting that lasted a whole day. It wasn’t easy. “We had to consult the manuals to answer the technical questions and substantiate our answers,” says Telmo Amaro. The result fell far short of a winning team because they were penalized for failing to provide justification in the first place. But they soon learned their lesson.

In the second round, which took place in June, and in the third round, which took place in September, they rose to first place and went through to the qualifying round, along with Israel. Some out of the country, others on vacation, the truth is that nothing prevented the team from completing the tasks successfully. Teamwork was the key to qualification, but also to the final phase ahead.

The First Grand Final

While the three rounds were the warm-up phase, the training took place over three days in Leiria. “We knew which machines were going to compete and we got together in Leiria with a model of each machine and a station,” recalls António José Santos, explaining the method he followed: “I made the machines malfunction to simulate what would appear in the competition and they had 45 minutes to solve the problem and document everything they were doing.”

This step proved to be fundamental in getting the “Ascentugas” used to working as a team and adapting to the role they had to play in the real races. The preparation was done, but that didn’t mean any less anxiety when they arrived in Germany to face a race in which they were all first-timers.

In a day and a half they faced five 45-minute tests, plus two additional ones, with the challenge of solving wiring problems, contaminated oils, a wheel loader that wouldn’t start or a broken dumper.

The training sessions held in Leiria, the skill of each member and good teamwork were crucial. Not only did they manage to finish four seconds before the final whistle, but they were also the only ones to finish the race. But this is just one example of the achievements. In the end, they were the only one of the 14 teams to finish all the races. They won first place, of course!

The secret to bringing the trophy to Ascendum and Portugal? The visibly proud “coach” lists the reasons: teamwork, competence and knowledge, humility and a dose of luck. “There are no champions without luck,” assures António José Santos.

Some relaxation also helped. “We didn’t go with the desire to win, but with the pleasure of competing and taking part,” says Henrique Lopes. Telmo confirms this, but doesn’t deny that, when the race started, “the spirit of competition set in”. And as they overcame the tests, their anxiety grew. So much so that the competition didn’t end without the “coach” receiving a yellow card.

And now, after the European Championship, the goal is to win the Volvo Masters 2024 world championship? “We’re going to try to be relaxed, but there’s always the hope of winning,” confesses the Ascentugas coach, who hopes to be able to count on a dose of luck once again.

In any case, there have already been many gains from winning the European competition. “It’s like a career award, it makes us proud of what we do,” confesses João Tereso. It’s also a training event,” said Henrique Lopes, who is looking forward to the world competition in Sweden in May. “We’re fit for any kind of race. We have competence, humility and luck. And, of course, a good mood.”

António José Santos doesn’t deny it, but he’s playing it safe. This time there will be four days of training instead of three. After all, it’s not enough to be lucky, you have to work hard!

Our Ascentugas

António José Santos

António José Santos

Coach

The Ascentugas coach, António José Santos, has worked for the company for as many years as our democracy has existed. In 1974, at the age of 16, he joined the company as an apprentice mechanic. He progressed in mechanics until the day he was challenged by Carlos Vieira to become an outdoor service technician. At the age of 30, he was already head of the outdoor service technicians team in Leiria. He also took on the roles of workshop manager, technical support and later, as part of the After-Sales Department, he moved into the training area.
Telmo Amaro

Telmo Amaro

Solving electrical problems is the specialty of Telmo Amaro, the Ascentugas electrician and team leader. He works as an exterior service technician at the company where he decided to work 15 years ago, after a short spell at a large national construction company, where he worked in the machinery area. His day-to-day work at Ascendum involves visiting customers. As he describes it, you'll find him somewhere between Bombarral and the Algarve, from the coast to Spain.
Bruno Gaspar

Bruno Gaspar

Bruno Gaspar, a parts man in the Ascentugas team, had three years' experience in a multi-brand car company before joining the company 25 years ago. He started out in the automobile and truck sector, before moving into the machinery sector. He made external sales to customers, worked at the Caldas da Rainha branch and ended up taking on all external sales in the Leiria region. A long career culminating in the role of head of the Leiria parts warehouse.
João Tereso

João Tereso

The service technician, João Tereso, already had experience in the machinery area when he joined the company in 2007. He began working as an intern in the workshop, but soon became an external service technician in Leiria. Ascendum's customers know him from the Center Zone, where he has been working exclusively on exterior work since 2015. Throughout his decade and a half of work, he highlights the experience of working for several months in Equatorial Guinea, assisting a client who had made a large purchase of machinery.
Henrique Lopes

Henrique Lopes

He is the Ascentugas service technician with the most years of experience. He has already worked at Ascendum for 32 years, and when he arrived here by mistake (he thought he was answering an ad for a car technician!), he already had 14 years' experience as a car mechanic - as many as the years he started working in this field. The machines seemed very big to him, but not big enough to scare him. He accepted the challenge and started in the workshop with the lightest equipment. After two years, and still with the lightest equipment, it was transferred to external service. He gradually began to work on heavier and more complex equipment. His son Hugo, who has been with Ascendum for three years and is now an external service technician, is no exception. It's a case of saying, like father, like son!

The Competition

The history of the competition at Volvo dates back to 1990, when the VCE (Volvo Construction Equipment) service school was celebrating its 25th anniversary. At the same time, António José Santos, the current coach of the Ascentugas, entered the competition as an individual, a participation that was repeated throughout the 1990s. Even then, Portugal made a name for itself by coming second in the 1992 competition.

Team competitions only began in 2006, but at that time, and until the last competition, Ascendum opted to hold an internal competition between the various teams that formed spontaneously. The best was the one representing Portugal in Volvo’s European competition. Everything changed in 2023 – and the strategy has already proved to be a winner.