Ag Technology Student,
Fox Valley Technical College, Waupun, Wis.
Waupun Equipment, Waupun, Wis.
Pictured Above: Jordan Shaw (left), a junior at Fox Valley Technical College, works parts time in the service department at Waupun Equipment. He sat down with Jason Drews (right), part of the dealership’s sales team and a former service tech, to compare notes on how training has evolved in the 15 years since Drews was at Fox Valley.
Jason Drews: How does what you’re learning and doing at school compare to when you’re here, working in the real world?
Jordan Shaw: It’s really kind of transitioning into real life situations. There’s breakdowns of everything, but you’re not taking something apart and then putting the whole machine back together. Right now we’re in hydraulics, transmissions and electricity. The instructor gives you a problem and you have to fix it, or you take a differential apart and an instructor goes through it with you and then you put it back together. Then when it comes to real life, you know what you’re up against before you jump into your problem.
Drews: I had the hydraulic course when I was there. It was a good course. I went from not knowing anything about it to having a good sense of how it worked. I didn’t understand it really well until I was here and actually using it real-time, diagnosing it myself, but without that course, it would have been even more difficult to understand it.
Shaw: I’m getting good base knowledge there, so I have a better understanding of what I’m working on here.
Drews: I remember leaving thinking I knew so much. Then when you actually get here, you realize you don’t. Experience still helps. I really caught on best to electrical and diagnostics, which most people hate. In school, it was one of the things I didn’t really like, but once I got here, I found out I was good at it.
Shaw: It’s trying to figure it out. Electricity’s not one of my favorite things to work on because it can be a pain trying to figure them out, but once you get going at it, it’s not so bad. I haven’t had much electricity stuff here to work on, mostly just small stuff. But, it’s coming I guess. How did you start out before you worked your way up to sales?
Drews: When I started, I was doing the same thing you are. I was washing skid loaders, changing oil and stuff and gradually worked up. By the time I left the shop, I was on the road 80-90% of the time in the service truck. When I was a tech, I never really understood the sales side. My job was just to fix it, so I didn’t really pay attention to sales. When I went to sales, I got a whole new perspective of how the whole business comes together and works.
“Even the stuff you don’t like or don’t think you’re good at, you still got to attempt it and try because you’re going to run into all kinds of problems…”
– Jason Drews
Now when I sell something, I have a better understanding of when it doesn’t work, what the technician’s going through to get it to work. It’s nice to see both sides of the spectrum, from selling to servicing, back and forth. I enjoyed fixing stuff though. I always got the satisfaction of leaving a farm knowing that you got the guy going and that he was happy.
How did you decide to go into the agriculture and power equipment program?
Shaw: I live out in the country and have a neighbor who I worked for part-time at a farm. I liked working there. I knew I wanted to stay involved in agriculture but not the farming part because farming’s not the greatest at the moment. So I decided to move to the mechanic side. The more I worked on it, the more interested I got and started learning a lot more. That’s when I got into Fox Valley and started liking what I’m learning right now. And then working here I’m learning a lot, too.
Drews: When I went to Fox Valley Tech 15 years ago, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was good at fixing stuff around the farm, and my parents wanted me to go to college so I went there. I originally started in the truck department, working on semis. And I did the whole course and completed it, but we had to take courses in the ag department, like hydraulics and that stuff was all in the ag. But I learned how to overhaul engines in the truck department and work on trucks. I realized by taking those courses that I liked fixing stuff, but I did not like working on trucks. I was not going to work on trucks. So that’s how I ended up here. I knew I wanted to fix stuff and I had learned a lot there. Engines didn’t bother me at all. Their electrical was really good there. I got A/C certified, which would work here. I was actually working part-time here when I went to school. And then I realized I liked working on tractors much better. So that’s how I came about here.
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Shaw: How the program’s changed since 15 years ago when you were there?
Drews: When I go by there, it looks totally different. The whole place is expanded and different. And I’m guessing it’s probably much better. When I was there, the ag department was pretty small. And the trucking department was huge. The trucking department kind of ran the school because they were known for their trucking up there.
Shaw: They still are pretty well known for trucking. They even train the state certified people just to come out there.
Drews: Yeah, the trucking department course was a pretty respected course there and I think that’s originally why I went that route and the ag shop department was pretty small I don’t regret the way I did it. What I hear just from other people is that the ag department’s really a lot better and bigger and they do a lot more hands-on stuff probably than when I was there. It’s good to hear because I think there’s a lack of mechanics in general, but the ag side could use a lot more help.
Shaw: Yeah, it’s gone through a lot. They’ve got at least 5 bays in there and we had to go through different sections for each 8-week semester. Right now we’re going through planters, engines being rebuilt, transmissions and all kinds of different stuff, so it’s really starting to expand out that way. It’s a lot more hands-on and everything. And then this coming summer we got A/C combine so I’ll get A/C certified this summer also, which will be nice.
Drews: Even the stuff you don’t like or don’t think you’re good at, you still got to attempt it and try because you’re going to run into all kinds of problems. It’s pretty tough to specialize in one thing. The ag industry’s too big. You’re always going have stuff that you don’t want to work on, but it’s just part of the job. You’ll know what your strengths and weaknesses are but, I guess that was probably the hardest for me. Certain stuff that I didn’t feel I was good at fixing or didn’t want to. You always had a little bit of different attitude toward working on it but, it’s all part of the deal. If you don’t like electrical or whatever, just try to tough it out. You get better at it.