Sales? Check. Technology? Check. Mechanical skills? Check. Bryce Ricklefs, Store Manager of Noteboom Implement, was excited to have Career Experience students from Spencer High School come to their business to give a better understanding of the industry and the opportunities available. “Every skill set imaginable is utilized among our nearly 20 employees. From mechanical skills and people skills used in the retail industry, to math and science, it is really incredible. Giving the students a chance to see and understand that is exciting to us. Technology is extremely fast moving, and we are on par with the most quickly adapting industries from a technology perspective. I think young people are interested in that too, so we look forward to showing them around,” said Ricklefs.
Ricklefs welcomed the students and gave them a brief overview of the many things they do. He shared that in addition to selling the big, green machines, John Deere also has forestry and construction equipment and John Deere Finance, and emphasized that at each of Noteboom’s eight locations, they sell, support and service large and small ag and lawn and garden equipment. Ricklefs added, “This is a retail business, but what makes us different is that in most retail businesses such as a clothing store, the relationship basically ends after you buy your item. In this industry, that is when our relationship starts. What we sell to our customers starts a relationship through parts and service to support their operations and make sure that they stay up and running. That relationship is rare in the retail industry, and it is something that we take personally and are proud of.”
The students toured the different areas including technology, parts and service to help gain a better appreciation of how everything has evolved with John Deere over the years. A graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in Ag Business and a minor in Ag Systems Technology, Adam, works closely with the high-tech side of John Deere which is becoming a huge part of the industry. “Knowing the how and why of technology, as well as the mechanics of it all, helps us be able to do just about anything we want with a tractor. With someone sitting in the seat of a tractor and pushing a couple of buttons, tractors can drive themselves to within about a 1.5” accuracy,” said Adam. If customers call in, Adam can often times help them resolve their issues over the phone. The amount of information and data that can be recorded, stored and analyzed for the future, at the discretion of the customer, can help provide a prescription to increase efficiency which allows their customers to get the most out of their money.
Technology has advanced with the parts and service departments too. Parts Manager, Tom, and Dana, Service Manager, shared about how things have changed in their respective areas, and pointed to the computer as the most important tool. Whether looking up parts through the recently implemented Parts Adviser, or needing to diagnose a problem on a piece of machinery, the computer is critical. Dana said, “With about 90% of jobs, problems can’t be diagnosed until the machinery is hooked up to the computer. The computer program, Service Adviser, allow us to have the mechanical aptitude necessary to fix the problem.”
Service Technicians, Bart and Tim, discussed their positions and how much faster things have gotten over the years thanks to having so much information available through technology. They also shared that training is ongoing with all areas of the company in an effort stay current on the ever-changing industry.
The crew at Noteboom rounded out the visit by allowing students to tour the service area, giving them an up-close view of machinery in the shop. Questions were answered, and many students took the opportunity to visit one-on-one with the different representatives. Ricklefs encouraged students to come back to job shadow with any of the different areas to garner an even deeper understanding of the industry.