Mediapolis, Iowa’s location manager, Jeremy Marston, has played an important role in growing the size of Precision Equipment’s RTK network. On his watch, the network has grown from two base stations to 15, with more coming in 2012.
His first responsibility with Elder Implement was as an AMS specialist, a role he continued to fill for 6 months after he was promoted to location manager. He has since passed on those responsibilities to another person he recruited. Finding talented people to fill positions in the precision farming segment can be a challenge. For Marston, it’s been made easier through friendships with instructors at Southeastern Community College in nearby West Burlington, Iowa.
The company’s long-term goal is to have an AMS specialist at each location, with every single employee trained to resolve common problems. This strategy is also known as AMS mainstreaming.
According to Marston, AMS mainstreaming is one of the first steps in the process of becoming a John Deere FarmSight certified dealership. Mainstreaming requires that all employees have an understanding of some of the most common issues faced by a user of precision farming technology.
“Every person in the company participated in online classes,” he says. “And we were all tested on it. Deere’s precision specialist came in, set up a tractor and everybody had to get in it, set an A/B line, get it all set up and actually auto track and make it work.”
Management has already seen the value of this training. “Now the technicians who usually passed the buck to the precision farming consultant are taking calls,” he says. “They’re more confident. Three years ago when I was doing it, I’d have a hundred calls a day easy in spring and fall, just questions like ‘What button do I push?’
“We’ve done a lot of things to help reduce the number of calls we get,” says Marston. “We do training every spring and fall to get farmers up to speed before they’re in the field.”