NEWS RELEASE   August 01, 2023

John Deere Australian finalists vie for Technicians of the Year Awards

Crestmead, Queensland (1 August, 2023) — MATURE age apprentices, a master technician who says he 'bleeds green', and a former security guard for pop icon Taylor Swift are just some of the 21 Australian finalists vying for recognition as the best of the best at the 2023 John Deere Technician of the Year Awards.

The Awards, now in their third year, were established to acknowledge the important contribution John Deere technicians make to the Australian agriculture, construction and forestry industries and to applaud excellence in the provision of service and support to John Deere customers.

The finalists will travel to the company's Australian headquarters in Brisbane this month for a second round of judging where they will be tested on their ability to perform hands-on tasks and troubleshoot technical issues.

John Deere Australia and New Zealand Managing Director, Luke Chandler, congratulated the finalists, recognising the enormous value they bring to their industries and the communities in which they live and work.

"We received more than 100 award nominations from 62 John Deere dealerships across Australia and New Zealand, which showcases the depth of the talent we are proud to have supporting our customers," Mr Chandler said.

"Technicians require a unique combination of mechanical knowledge, proficiency in digital technology and advanced problem-solving skills, and becoming a finalist in the annual awards is a testament to the hard work and dedication our technicians inject into their roles.

"Each finalist has a proven track record of helping farmers and businesses unlock greater productivity and sustainability achievements through technology, and they should be very proud of rising to the top of a very competitive field."

Seven titles will be awarded across five categories in the 2023 John Deere Technician Awards including individual country awards for both the Agriculture & Turf Service Technician of the Year and Parts Technician of the Year. One award winner, from either Australia or New Zealand, will be announced as the Service Apprentice of the Year, Parts Apprentice of the Year and the Construction & Forestry Service Technician of the Year.

Building career pathways through apprenticeships

John Deere Australia and New Zealand Director of Aftermarket and Customer Support, Emma Ford, said one of the highlights of the annual awards was seeing the calibre and diversity of the apprentices coming through the pipeline.

"This year, our finalists include a mix of mature age apprentices, young people starting their trade straight out of school and five female apprentices," Ms Ford said.

"While they're all diverse in their experience and background, what they have in common is a deep enthusiasm to learn and commitment to deliver exceptional aftermarket service to their customers.

"Being a John Deere technician offers a rewarding career path with potential for growth and professional development, and we look forward to seeing our apprentice finalists in action later this month."

The Award winners will be announced at the John Deere Technician of the Year Awards gala event on Thursday, 24 August 2023.


(Biographies below)

Agriculture & Turf Service Technician of the Year

(will compete for an Australian only Award)

  • Lachlan Corridan, Haeusler's, Sea Lake, Victoria
  • Francois Groenewald, Hutcheon & Pearce, Griffith, New South Wales
  • Karl Moschella, Honeycombes, Ayr, Queensland
  • David Nicol, Pringles Crouch, Crystal Brook, South Australia
  • Vincent Powditch, RDO Equipment, Taree South, New South Wales

Parts Technician of the Year

(will compete for an Australian only Award)

  • Jarred Bourke, LandHQ, Queanbeyan, New South Wales
  • Mitchell Channer, AFGRI Equipment, South Guildford, Western Australia
  • Andrew James, RDO Equipment, Richlands, Queensland
  • Sarah Lewis, Brandt, Terang, Victoria
  • Kaylyn-Rose Netrval, RDO Equipment, Taree South, New South Wales

Construction & Forestry Technician of the Year

(will also compete against two New Zealand finalists for a combined Australian/New Zealand Award)

  • Hayden Cox, RDO Equipment, Eastern Creek, New South Wales
  • Mark Muller, RDO Equipment, Eastern Creek, New South Wales

Service Apprentice of the Year

(will also compete against two New Zealand finalists for a combined Australian/New Zealand Award)

  • Salvatore Bettio, Hutcheon & Pearce, Albury North, New South Wales
  • James Clarkson, AFGRI Equipment, Gnowangerup, Western Australia
  • Darcy Miller, Honeycombes, Ayr, Queensland
  • Aaron Roberts, Brandt, Ballarat, Victoria

Parts Apprentice of the Year

(will also compete against one New Zealand finalist for a combined Australian/New Zealand Award)

  • Poppy Blohm, AFGRI Equipment, Narrogin, Western Australia
  • Lauren Cortes, RDO Equipment, Dalby, Queensland
  • Belinda Gade, Emmetts, Renmark, South Australia
  • Matthew Giuntini, RDO Equipment, Eastern Creek, New South Wales
  • Kym Thorne, RDO Equipment, Toowoomba, Queensland



Lachlan Corridan, Haeusler's, Sea Lake, Victoria

Growing up in the rural town of Swan Hill, Lachlan Corridan knew many people in agriculture and had his sights set on working in the industry from a young age. After completing work experience locally as a service technician, he knew he had found the right career for him and started a full-time apprenticeship. Upon completion, Lachlan moved west to work at the Haeusler's John Deere dealership in Sea Lake to gain more experience with broadacre machinery.

Working in the heart of Victoria's Mallee wheatbelt region, Lachlan has become a specialist on combine harvesters and self-propelled sprayers and says his customers are good people, and their trust and support is what he loves most about his job. He is a strong advocate of John Deere equipment, saying it is the best in market, and as such, he always ensures his level of service equals that standard. He's equally eager to share his enthusiasm with young people as they seek their own career path saying his advice is always the same - if you're offered a role in a John Deere dealership, seize it with both hands!

Francois Groenewald, Hutcheon & Pearce, Griffith, New South Wales

Francois Groenewald completed his first engine replacement at the age of 13 on a Ford Fairmont GT while living on his family farm in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. After studying mechanical engineering for one year after high school, Francois returned to manage the family farm and workshop, which housed more than 55 tractors. He qualified as a diesel mechanic in 2010 and furthered his career in an agriculture dealership before branching out into his own business. A visit to family in Griffith, New South Wales during 2019 culminated in Hutcheon & Pearce sponsoring Francois and his family to relocate to Australia where he could take up a position as a Master Diagnostic Technician.

For someone who has worked across many makes of equipment during his career, Francois says he prefers John Deere above any other brand. His favourite part of the job is working with farmers and helping to minimise their downtime, saying that their appreciation is 'priceless'.

Karl Moschella, Honeycombes, Ayr, Queensland

Karl Moschella started as an apprentice at the John Deere Honeycombes Ayr dealership 21 years ago and proudly admits he 'bleeds green'. Since then, he has become a Master Technician. Karl also runs the pre-season maintenance program for John Deere sugar cane harvesters across North Queensland, which requires him to travel to all Honeycombes branches and carry out onsite inspections to collect data used to establish preventative maintenance plans for these machines.

As a sugar cane harvester specialist, in 2018, Karl was invited to the John Deere Thibadoux factory in Louisiana, USA to help identify quality control measures on the assembly line. Karl's passion for the John Deere product has led him to where he is today in the Honeycombes group and in the sugar cane industry as a well-known identity.

David Nicol, Pringles Crouch, Crystal Brook, South Australia

David Nicol started his working life as a small motor mechanic in Central Australia fixing a variety of machinery ranging from whipper snippers through to graders. Gradually working his way through the automotive industry, it was at Pringles Crouch in South Australia where he moved into the agriculture workshop 10 years ago to focus on the service and maintenance of John Deere equipment.

Now part of the service leadership team, David says the variety of work he undertakes each day keeps his job interesting and fresh. Located in the heart of some of South Australia's most productive sheep and wheat country, he enjoys travelling around the region to visit farmers and help them get the best out of their John Deere equipment. David is a positive role model and encourages junior staff to ask questions, be willing to listen and learn from others.

Vincent Powditch, RDO Equipment, Taree South, New South Wales

Vincent Powditch has been a whisky taster, a security guard for pop icon Taylor Swift, and mechanically, has worked on everything from golf buggies to luxury yachts. He says the day he met his first John Deere, he was intrigued and impressed with the technology, and jumped at the chance when a position came up at RDO Equipment in Taree.

While he's had an eclectic career, his proudest moments are watching his apprentices graduate and getting farmers working again. Vincent loves working with the big John Deere equipment and has a deep interest in fast moving technology, fascinated by the way space and satellite technology is translated into systems for everyday use. He says working on one of the best brands in the world and being supported by a world-renowned company is something he truly values and for those considering a career as a tech, Vincent's advice is to ensure you have 'passion, patience and a love of all things that go vroom!'.


Jarred Bourke, LandHQ Queanbeyan, New South Wales

Growing up in a small country town in New South Wales, Jarred Bourke always had an appreciation for farming. After leaving school he initially pursued a different career path, completing his baking apprenticeship and working in that industry for several years. He then made a career switch, taking on a role as a parts interpreter servicing motorcycles and ATVs for the farming community surrounding Queanbeyan and Canberra for 11 years. After a break, Jarred was approached by LandHQ to become a John Deere Parts Technician, and says it was the best decision he's ever made and has never looked back.

Jarred has earned an excellent reputation with his colleagues and customers for his leadership and communication skills and loves that every day he is able to help customers who may range from the general public through to farmers running large-scale properties. He has been an integral part of the LandHQ team, recently helping to set the dealership up in a new and bigger location.

Mitchell Channer, AFGRI Equipment, South Guildford, Western Australia

An obsession with the John Deere logo from an early age, and the reliability of the brand, were catalysts for Mitchell Channer embarking on his successful career as a parts technician. This enthusiasm was further strengthened by his belief being part of the Australian agricultural industry would mean always contributing to communities and the economy.

He is no stranger to the John Deere Technician Awards, having been named the Parts Apprentice of the Year in 2022 while he was still training for his qualification. Mitchell says the most rewarding part of his job is finding solutions for his customers, regardless of whether they are a hobby farmer, or a large-scale mining company. He takes pride in knowing if he can decrease their downtime, he is helping them to increase their revenue.

Andrew James, RDO Equipment, Richlands, Queensland

Before starting as a parts technician at the John Deere RDO Equipment dealership in Richlands, Andrew James had managed retail department stores and been a retail manager within the automotive parts industry. His strong interest in automotive and mechanical applications meant he comfortably made the transition to providing parts advice for customers and working with John Deere equipment.

Primarily supporting customers in the construction industry, Andrew says he has developed an extensive knowledge of John Deere products and is proud of his career progression in the two years since his career change. He enjoys the challenge and diversity of the role and relies on his excellent problem-solving skills to find solutions for his customers.

Sarah Lewis, Brandt, Terang, Victoria

Sarah Lewis has deep roots in the agriculture industry, having grown up on a small farm in regional Victoria where she enjoyed riding dirt bikes, fishing for tadpoles and feeding calves. It was her formative years which instilled in her an appreciation of the importance of supporting agricultural industries and local communities, and the critical role machinery parts play in ensuring farming businesses thrive.

A qualified Parts Technician, Sarah is known for her excellent problem-solving skills and is committed to sourcing and securing parts in a timely manner for her customers. She has become a leader within the Brandt Terang branch and is passionate about mentoring and upskilling the next generation of techs to help them service customers throughout the region. After winning the Australian Parts Technician of the Year in 2022, Sarah is excited to again be nominated, and is proud to represent her dealership and the John Deere brand.

Kaylyn-Rose Netrval, RDO Equipment, Taree South, New South Wales

Kaylyn-Rose Netrval joined RDO Equipment in 2020, and despite having no previous background with farming equipment, she quickly applied herself to learning and completed her apprenticeship two years earlier than expected. Becoming a fully qualified John Deere Parts Technician in March this year, she is well on her way to establishing herself as one of the best in her field.

Kaylyn-Rose is the first to confess when she started her career, she knew little about tractors and mowers, however she's now developed an extensive knowledge of John Deere products which she uses daily, sourcing and securing parts for customers. As someone who strives for greatness, Kaylyn-Rose's approach with each customer is the same – whether they are seeking parts for a ride-on mower or for a combine harvester during harvest season. She recognises everyone deserves the best of service, which gives her immense job satisfaction, knowing she is contributing to solving problems that have a big impact for customers.

As a parts apprentice finalist last year, Kaylyn-Rose is excited to make the finalists lineup as a qualified technician in 2023 and is hoping to make herself and her branch proud.


Hayden Cox, RDO Equipment, Eastern Creek, New South Wales

Qualified Construction and Forestry John Deere Technician, Hayden Cox, has always been captivated by machinery and as a young boy, he would often find himself pulling things apart to determine how they worked. His enthusiasm for machinery continued throughout his adolescence, completing work experience at various mechanic workshops. Pursuing his passion, Hayden started his apprenticeship after completing Year 12 and moved to RDO Equipment in his third year, where he has been working on John Deere machines since. Hayden is proud to support the construction industry – a sector he believes is a cornerstone of the Australian economy.

A high achiever, Hayden has also completed his Certificate III in Automotive Electrical Technology and Certificate II in Automotive Air-Conditioning. During his day-to-day work, he strives to exceed expectations and works hard to build strong relationships with customers, which has earned him an excellent reputation with both colleagues and customers. He enjoys that every day on the job is different, providing him with variety and opportunity to work on a large range of machinery.

Mark Muller, RDO Equipment, Eastern Creek, New South Wales

Mark Muller has always had an interest in mechanics and machinery, and at sixteen began his career through a forklift mechanic apprenticeship. After 15 years, he craved a challenge and almost two years ago successfully transitioned to become a John Deere Construction and Forestry Technician at RDO Equipment. Mark is proud his work provides support to the construction industry and believes the sector plays an important role in strengthening Australia's economy.

Mark is a proficient technician dedicated to driving his own professional development, through completing additional training provided through John Deere and his dealership. He is known for his exceptional customer service skills and understands that every customer requires a different approach. He takes time to precisely listen to his customers' needs and uses every tool available to ensure he provides the highest quality service.


Salvatore Bettio, Hutcheon & Pearce, Albury North, New South Wales

While there weren't too many combine harvesters around Salvatore Bettio's childhood cattle farm and vineyard in north-east Victoria, he spent his youth following his father and grandfather around, fascinated by farm machinery. He took to mechanical work early on, tinkering with motorbikes and old cars, learning enough skills to secure a part-time job at his local garage.

After visiting the Hutcheon & Pearce dealership stand at the Henty Field Days, Sal became interested in their Top Gun program and the opportunity to work on John Deere equipment. He was successful in securing an apprenticeship in 2020 and now works on a wide variety of agricultural equipment.

While studying at TAFE NSW as part of his apprenticeship, in 2022, he was proud to be selected to work as a pit crew member for the winning V8 Supercars race team in the Bathurst 1000. However, with his farming background, his heart belongs to agriculture, and he enjoys travelling around the region and supporting his customers' operations.

James Clarkson, AFGRI Equipment, Gnowangerup, Western Australia

James Clarkson is proof you can begin a new career at any time. At the age of 19, he started working in Western Australia's mining and construction industry after moving to Australia from Stratford, New Zealand. For six years he was a fly in, fly out (FIFO) worker in the oil, gas and iron ore industries, and during his down time between shifts he worked for a local farmer outside Tambellup, in the great southern grain region.

It was this role, which turned into a full-time job for three years and gave him an interest in both the agricultural industry and the machinery that keeps the sector going. When James started a family, he felt the time was right to formally further his knowledge in mechanics and machinery, and in September 2020, he started as a mature age apprentice with the John Deere AFGRI Equipment dealership in Gnowangerup. James has already proved he is a high achiever, fast-tracking his study by completing all 36 units in two years, instead of the usual three and winning Apprentice of the Year 2023 for Central Regional TAFE in Northam.

Darcy Miller, Honeycombes, Ayr, Queensland

School holidays spent helping his Grandad around his Burdekin cane farm in north Queensland sparked Darcy Miller's passion for tractors. His enthusiasm saw him repeatedly volunteering for holiday work experience with the Honeycombes John Deere dealership in Ayr, where he was eventually offered a school-based apprenticeship. Once Darcy graduated from high school, he moved into full-time work with one of his most memorable achievements being the day he stepped into the field service ute for the first time.

Currently in the fourth year of his apprenticeship, Darcy is due to finish at the end of 2023. While he's worked on a range of John Deere equipment, from mowers to cane harvesters, he says tractors are still his favourite piece of machinery. He loves seeing the advancements in agriculture that improve farming practices and relishes working remotely.

Aaron Roberts, Brandt, Ballarat, Victoria

Breaking down the stigma around signing up as an adult apprentice and his passion for being a diesel mechanic were key discussion points for Aaron Roberts when he recently represented his Brandt John Deere dealership at the Ballarat Careers Expo.

Originally a qualified light vehicle mechanic, Aaron was seeking more variety and a new challenge, so last year he forged a career in agriculture by taking on an apprenticeship as a John Deere service technician. He is enjoying being able to transfer the skills he learned in the car industry over to large agricultural equipment and says the challenge and the technicality of the work makes the job extremely engaging and rewarding.


Poppy Blohm, AFGRI Equipment, Narrogin, Western Australia

Second-year John Deere Parts Apprentice, Poppy Blohm, came into her role as a Parts Apprentice with limited understanding of machinery but has proven a true natural in her chosen profession and is now a champion of the vital role John Deere equipment plays in supporting farming businesses.

The most enjoyable and satisfying aspect of her work is contributing to customers' businesses, whether that is responding during a time-critical season like seeding or harvest through to general pre-season maintenance.

Originally from Perth, Poppy loves the fact her role allows her to support rural communities and is passionate about encouraging other young people to consider a career in the agricultural industry.

Lauren Cortes, RDO Equipment, Dalby, Queensland

Third-year John Deere Parts Apprentice, Lauren Cortes, has always had an interest in the agricultural industry. In high school she completed an Agricultural Futures program which opened her eyes to the various pathways the industry offers. Determined to build a career in the farm sector, she gained experience in a wide variety of jobs, including working as a jillaroo on a cattle station in the Northern Territory, and as a pen rider in a feedlot in Queensland.

During these experiences Lauren witnessed the integral role John Deere equipment played in farming businesses, which inspired her to apply for an apprenticeship with RDO Equipment in Dalby. Now in her final year, she has developed an extensive knowledge of John Deere products, and is well on her way to building a long and successful career in the industry. Lauren is excited to be a returning finalist in 2023 and is proud to represent the John Deere brand and her branch.

Belinda Gade, Emmetts, Renmark, South Australia

Despite having no background in agriculture, and being just one year into her apprenticeship, mum of two, Belinda Gade is well on her way to building a successful career as a John Deere parts technician.

It was the purchase of her first motorcycle that sparked Belinda's curiosity in the mechanical services industry. Not wanting to take the risk of being broken down on the side of the road, she completed a TAFE course in Automotive Servicing Technology and enjoyed it more than she thought she would. Weeks later she saw an advertisement for a parts apprenticeship at Emmetts John Deere dealership and jumped at the opportunity to secure a stable daytime career.

Belinda loves that no two days are the same in her role, and supporting customers during busy periods like seeding or harvest, along with general maintenance requests. When she's not helping her customers at work, Belinda is busy volunteering at her childrens' sporting activities including coaching her son's under six soccer club.

Matthew Giuntini, RDO Equipment, Eastern Creek, New South Wales

While he started his working life in a local automotive retail store, Matthew Giuntini always had a strong desire to work in the construction and earthmoving industry and took his first step towards this goal when he commenced work with RDO Equipment, Eastern Creek, in March 2020. Three years on, Matthew has progressed his career to now being in his first year as a Parts Technician apprentice. He loves the variety of John Deere equipment he gets to work with on a daily basis, which can range from mini excavators to large graders and loaders.

With a knack for problem solving, he embraces the daily challenges of his role and works hard to find solutions for his customer base. Matthew is excited to have earned a finalist spot in this year's Technician Awards and is proud to represent his branch and the John Deere brand.

Kym Thorne, RDO Equipment, Toowoomba, Queensland

Growing up on her family's cattle property in Dingo, Central Queensland, Kym Thorne always had an interest in machinery and learning how various components work. From a young age, her mechanic father started showing her the ropes and how to repair equipment, while having a 5403 John Deere tractor on the farm showed her the positive impact reliable machinery could have on an agricultural business.

A love for mechanics and desire to support farmers meant becoming a John Deere Parts Apprentice was the ideal career for Kym. The second-year apprentice has been at the RDO Equipment John Deere dealership in Toowoomba since September 2021 and says she feels fortunate to work on a variety of machinery in her day-to-day role of sourcing and equipping farmers with parts.

About John Deere:

Deere & Company is a global leader in the delivery of agricultural, golf & turf, construction, and forestry equipment. We help our customers push the boundaries of what's possible in ways that are more productive and sustainable to help life leap forward. Our technology-enabled products including the John Deere Autonomous 8R Tractor and See & Spray™ are just two of the ways we help meet the world's increasing need for food, shelter, and infrastructure. Deere & Company also provides financial services through John Deere Financial. For more information, visit John Deere at its worldwide website at or in Australia at

Media Contacts:

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0438 389 092

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