For Clay Camp, son of Clayton Camp, president and co-owner of Kern Machinery, working in the family business at the farm equipment dealership was always the goal. After numerous summers spent helping out at the dealership while in high school, Clay knew he liked the atmosphere and always pictured himself returning to the dealership.
During college, he interned at a local bank in the agri-finance department and also served a summer internship with Deere & Co. in Brisbane, Australia, where he gained further industry experience that motivated him to follow his path back home to Kern Machinery.
After graduating from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif., with a degree in business and an emphasis in finance, Clay joined Stotz Equipment, a fellow John Deere dealership based in Avondale, Ariz., where he participated in their rotational management-development program.
“My family encouraged me to get outside experience before coming back to Kern Machinery after college,” Clay says. “It’s actually a rule. If any of us in the next generation want to get involved in the dealership, we have to work elsewhere for a few years first.”
Clay spent 2 years in Stotz’s management program, spending one year in the sales department and his second year in the accounting department doing project-based work and reporting.
“The rotational program is for someone who would like to be a manager at the dealership someday,” he says. “The idea is to spend a year in each department and learn how the departments relate to one another and to the dealership as a whole.”
When Clay went to work for Stotz, he says the plan was always that he would eventually return to Kern Machinery.
“Working at Stotz, I got a taste for how a different, well-respected dealership operates and saw the industry from their perspective. I had the opportunity to gather ideas that I’m bringing back to Kern Machinery now,” he says.
Clay returned to Kern Machinery in September 2015. He currently serves as the dealership’s financial analyst and collaborates with the sales, aftermarket and accounting departments.
“Right now I’m getting guidance from all three departments and exploring different roles in the dealership to see what area best fits my ability. I’m looking for ways that I can provide something beneficial to the company and what I still need to learn,” Clay says.
Kern Machinery is in the early stages of planning for the next generation of ownership, but Clay says he would like to stay at the dealership long term.