During my visit to the Lincoln, Neb., area last week I stopped at Nebraska Equipment, a single-store Case IH dealer in Seward, with a growing focus into their precision farming department.
While discussing the scope of services with sales manager Kenny Pekarek, a fresh-faced employee by the name of Brandon Roth stopped in and introduced himself.
Roth, a precision ag and business student at nearby Northeast Community College, was just 1 week into his role as the dealership’s first precision tech intern. His demeanor reflected an excited, pent-up eagerness to prove himself: a relatable sentiment being a recent intern and 10-month rookie in the workforce myself.
The dealership currently has 3 certified full-time techs, but in the heart of planting season, Pekarek says it’s often not enough.
“We’ve got Brandon doing a little bit of everything because he’s pretty green yet. He’s worked with mowers and we’ll be demoing a tractor soon. He’s got his own drone, so we’ll be able to provide farmers with some pictures when they’re working in the field.”
As precision service demands continue to grow, Pekarek hopes for the opportunity to develop Roth into a full-fledged contributor to the dealership, though he acknowledges he’s far from the only one trying to do so.
“Brandon’s got one more year in school and who knows what he’s going to do. He’s got other interests, maybe even starting his own dealership,” Pekarek says. “We’ve also got seed companies and manufacturers out there, all going through the same pool of young talent.”
Pekarek adds that the cyclical workload of precision techs requires a proficient mechanical background, narrowing the search further.
“We’ve been here for 33 years and it’s very difficult to find good, qualified techs, especially with much of the precision tech job being seasonal. We can always find salespeople, but with techs, we want somebody that’s able to set up planters, tractors and combines beyond the spring.”
Does your dealership have a protocol for recruiting young precision talent? If so, how difficult is it to retain those candidates long-term?