2023 Technician Awards Regional Finalists

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

Service Apprentice of the Year Finalists

Salvatore Bettio in front of John Deere equipment

Salvatore Bettio, Hutcheon & Pearce, Albury, 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.

Dylan Bruce in front of John Deere equipment

Dylan Bruce, Drummond & Etheridge, Rolleston, New Zealand

Dylan Bruce's career journey shows the value of having a good mentor. During school, his interest in machinery and fixing equipment was noticed by a proactive neighbour who owned a forklift repair business and offered him a job straight after graduation. When he saw how much Dylan enjoyed working on engines, he encouraged him to apply for work experience with a local heavy diesel company to further his skills. This led to an apprenticeship with John Deere Drummond & Etheridge dealership in Nelson before a transfer to the Rolleston branch, south of Christchurch, where he's completing his apprenticeship as a Service Technician.

Currently in the third and final year of his apprenticeship, Dylan has progressed from working on lawn mowers to agricultural tractors and is now applying his trade to the John Deere construction and forestry equipment. Dylan says his career highlight has been the shift from servicing equipment in the workshop to being out in the field with customers, as well making the finals of the 2023 John Deere Technician Awards.

James Clarkson in front of John Deere equipment

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.

Tom Fyfe in front of John Deere equipment

Tom Fyfe, Brandt, Rotorua, New Zealand

Tom Fyfe's advice for anyone in a workshop or dealership is to ask questions, and he should know. After 15 years in agricultural parts, including eight years as Parts Manager at Brandt in Rotorua, Tom started a heavy diesel apprenticeship in late November last year. He's proud of making the transition to being an apprentice in the workshop, where he has continued to be an important part of a strong, tightly-knit team.

For Tom, support in the workplace is important, and as a mature-aged apprentice, he plays a significant role as a mentor, helping other apprentices get focused on their bookwork. He enjoys working with his team mates to collectively advance their knowledge, skills and careers and always takes the opportunity to learn from those around him including field service technicians and the sales team.

Darcy Miller in front of John Deere equipment

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 with woods in background

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.