Golf and turf specialist wins Trans-Tasman competition
Australia's most famous horse track, Flemington Racecourse, AAMI Park and AFL team Collingwood's Olympic Park Oval, all have one thing in common - Adam Kent.
Adam advises the teams that maintain some of Victoria's most hallowed sports grounds and services machines that range from small, walk-behind push mowers to John Deere 6 Series Tractors.
Based at the Brandt Knoxfield dealership on the eastern side of Melbourne, Adam was chosen as the John Deere 2022 Turf Service Technician of the Year in a hotly contested competition featuring five finalists from Australia and New Zealand.
"There's a lot of variety across Victoria and it's a very different field than just tractors, they all have different reasons and purposes behind their operations," Adam said.
"For example, at Flemington Racecourse, the home of the Melbourne Cup, they have their own team of mechanics, but they lean on me if there's something they can't get their head around. They know they can rely on us to be there if they get stuck."
Adam's career path began as a 12-year-old growing up in the small country town of Chirnside Park, east of Melbourne, where he and his Dad, a fitter and turner by trade, worked on model planes. He learned how to craft the bodies, rebuild tiny engines and master the mechanics of wings and controllers.
After school he did a Certificate II in Automotive Technology then got a job with Rankin Diesel. They didn't offer apprenticeships, so Adam worked as a trades assistant for eight years.
One day a mate told him about a job going at Glenmac Sales & Service in Knoxfield, working on tractors, and suggested he apply. Adam started work at Glenmac in 2014, on the proviso that he could do his apprenticeship as a mature age student, to become properly qualified.
"I did my apprenticeship as a foreman leading a team of five, from an apprentice to a number of qualified guys, but everyone was pretty respectful," Adam recalled.
"Because I couldn't spare the time to go to TAFE I had to do all my work online, and I had to score 95% on tests just to pass each subject. But I finally got my qualifications in 2016."
In 2021 Glenmac was purchased by Brandt and Adam now works in a team of seven. Adam said now was a good time for anyone to get into the industry.
"There's a great mix of fundamental mechanics and emerging computer technology, so you still have to figure it out, you can't just rely on the computer to tell you what's wrong," he said.
Adam was so surprised to win the award from such a quality line-up of dedicated turf technicians that he hadn't prepared a speech.
"They started reading out the winner's background and I thought ‘Hey, that's me!' Luckily Sarah Lewis, Parts Technician of the Year, was before me and she did a cracker of a speech, so I just had to make mine quick!" he laughed.