TWO staff members of CLAAS Harvest Centre Echuca have been recognised amongst Australia’s best farm machinery professionals at the recent Strive Annual Excellence Awards in Melbourne.
The awards recognise the best-performing dealerships, teams and individuals across Landpower and CLAAS Harvest Centre, the largest privately-owned farm machinery distribution network in Australasia.
The network represents some of the world’s leading farm machinery brands, including CLAAS, AMAZONE and Seed Hawk, via 31 owned and franchised CLAAS Harvest Centres throughout New Zealand and Australia.
Service technician Tom Hewlett was named Australian service technician of the year, while dealer principal Brendan Caffery was named Australian sales representative of the year – used machinery (revenue).
Tom has more than 20 years ‘on the tools’ – including a memorable four-year stint in Queensland in the mining and cattle sectors and five years as a driver/mechanic with an agricultural contractor.
He is a leader in the Echuca workshop team, which includes three service technicians, two trade assistants and two apprentices.
“It’s a great team to work with,” Tom said.
“It has a really good culture and everyone gets along well. I get real satisfaction seeing our customers doing what they hoped to do with their machinery.”
Established in 2009 by Brendan and Marcella Caffery, CLAAS Harvest Centre Echuca operates throughout northern Victoria and southern NSW.
The dealership has successfully differentiated itself in a highly-competitive market by providing exceptional customer service, including 24/7 service and parts during harvest.
“To be successful in this industry, it’s not necessarily about always having the best machinery or offering the best deals – it’s about service,” Brendan said.
“In many ways, it’s not the machine that farmers are buying – it’s the people behind it to make sure they get the most out of that machine.
“Inevitably, things do break down, so it’s a matter of having the parts and service to get it fixed and our customers back in the paddock as quickly as possible.
“Farmers and contractors want to know that you will be there when they need you.”
CLAAS Harvest Centre Echuca now employs 17 staff and Brendan said he and Marcella work hard to attract, train and motivate their team and in turn, utilise a business coach to improve their own leadership skills.
“We have devoted a lot of time and resources to making sure the right people are in the right places,” Brendan said.
“We are fortunate to have such a highly-skilled and experienced team.
“All staff members have opportunities to participate in training programs provided by Landpower in Melbourne and Christchurch, while our sales staff often participate in study trips overseas.
“We are constantly on the look-out for more people to join our team.”