Farmer, scientist, mechanic – now NZ Service Technician of the Year
John Deere's 2022 New Zealand Service Technician of the Year is the ultimate agricultural all-rounder.
Greg Bishop grew up in Dunedin and spent much of his childhood holidays on family farms in dairy, sheep and cropping, before studying a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in Genetics and Plant Biotechnology, followed by careers managing a dairy farm and tractor driving on a high country station.
Over the years he developed skills and a passion for diagnosing and fixing mechanical systems, so he decided to complete a pre-trade polytechnical course before doing work experience for the local John Deere dealership, Otago Farm Machinery in Mosgiel, which led to an apprenticeship.
Greg has been a fully qualified heavy diesel mechanic for three years and developed his trades toolbox further by taking night classes to complete his auto electrical qualifications. And he sees his role as more than just fixing tractors.
"I'm passionate about establishing strong customer relationships. To me it doesn't matter if the customer is a big contractor with a dozen tractors or the owner of a small lifestyle block with a dozen cattle. They all get the same level of attention and effort," Greg said.
"Clear communication and a can-do attitude, as well as a bit of Kiwi ingenuity, helps me to get them up and running again to finish that last 40 bales or get the final bit of seed in the ground before the rain. It's also important to spend the time to just have a yarn with our farmers.
"As a technician I'm on the front line, so it's important to have good product and industry knowledge and to show my pride in the company by getting excited with the customer about their new tractor or their old workhorse."
In his spare time Greg is a sponge for learning new systems and skills, taking courses on John Deere University or simply reading through support tools such as Service ADVISOR™ or the operators manuals, as well as watching demonstrations on YouTube or using the John Deere simulator.
"Working as a field technician can be very challenging at times. Adverse weather, limited cell phone coverage and time pressures can make fault finding difficult to say the least," Greg said.
‘I rely on my diagnostic procedure, patience and creativity to find faults and get machines back into work and I find customers really appreciate it when I can produce temporary solutions to get them running until replacement parts can be sourced."
"I find studying Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs) and gathering possible parts before leaving the shop is a great way to proactively approach a job, and when I get to the farm I always discuss any faults with the customer to gather as much information as possible before physically checking over the tractor."
Greg was surprised to be nominated for the award and nervously excited to make the finals, but said his hard work and preparation paid off. He strongly recommends the job of a workshop or field technician as a great career.
"The farming industry is the backbone of New Zealand's economy and a huge contributor to the international food industry," he said.
"I'm proud to work on the best ag machines in the world and do my bit to keep our customers going. There is no job I would rather do."