2023 Technician Awards Regional Finalists

Meet our 2023 Regional Finalists who are progressing through to the final stages of the Technician Awards program.

Parts Apprentice Technician of the Year Finalists

Poppy Blohm in front of John Deere equipment

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 in front of John Deere equipment

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 in front of John Deere equipment

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 in front of John Deere equipment

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.

Paige Hunter in front of John Deere equipment

Paige Hunter, Drummond & Etheridge, Christchurch, South Island

Paige Hunter has deep roots within the agriculture industry, having grown up on a dairy farm and seeing firsthand the important role machinery plays in farming from an early age. Looking for her first full-time job, she knew she wanted to remain in the industry and stumbled upon a role in the parts department at her local John Deere dealership. A year-and-a-half later, the first-year apprentice is well on her way to being a leader in her field. She enjoys the variety offered by her role and loves that she can work with a wide range of John Deere equipment – from lawn mowers to tractors, to combine harvesters, as well as construction and forestry parts.

Although early in her career, Paige is committed to upskilling and has used her organisational and communication skills to build trust with her customers. She has also taken on the responsibility of all incoming and outgoing freight for her branch in her first year on the job, which she is proud of. As well as being a valued team player at work, Paige plays for her local rugby team and coaches an Under 18 boys' side.

Kym Thorne in front of John Deere equipment

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.