Job growth. Skill development. Expanding knowledge. Fulfilling these areas is often an expectation people have of their employer – or at least regarded as important. While many aspire to advance both themselves and their career, opportunities to do so aren’t always available within a company. That’s not the case at RDO Equipment Co.
Through formal initiatives like its Access Your Future internship program and Career Path Level (CPL) program, as well as efforts to instill a culture of learning, development, and job ownership, RDO Equipment Co. offers team members opportunities to grow, both professionally and personally.
Clear Sights Ahead
RDO Equipment Co. established the Career Path Level (CPL) program in 2012 for two key store roles: Parts Specialists and Service Technicians. It gives team members opportunity to advance in their role or helps them hone the skills and learnings needed to move into new roles, including managerial positions.
When Kevin Johnston began his career at RDO Equipment Co., the CPL program didn’t yet exist. But that didn’t stop him from growing throughout his 20-year career.
With experience working at a John Deere dealer in high school, followed by a degree in ag systems management, Kevin knew his career would combine agriculture and equipment. What exactly that looked like, however, was still unknown when he began working at RDO Equipment Co.
Prior to his senior year of college, Kevin began working at the Fargo store (now located in Moorhead) on a part-time basis, doing various tasks. After graduating, he was interested in a full-time sales role but there were no positions open. Upon suggestion from Mark Kreps, Vice President of Agriculture Sales, Kevin took a full-time position as a Parts Specialist instead.
“My experience in high school was mostly in the service department so working in parts would be a great way to balance that background and understand both the parts and service side of the business,” Kevin said. Mark’s advice proved wise, as Kevin landed his goal job of Account Manager shortly after.
Through a combination of help from others and his own personal drive, Kevin learned, built relationships, and was promoted to new roles, now serving as Regional General Manager for the Midwest Agriculture region.
Today, the CPL program is great for those like Kevin, who have an idea where they’d like their career to go at RDO Equipment Co. On a similar note, the company’s Access Your Future internship program is designed to prepare college students for careers in parts, sales, or service roles.
RDO Equipment Co. also offers an internship program at its Field Support Office (FSO), in areas such as accounting, benefits, and marketing. It’s because of this internship opportunity Amanda Dawson, Senior Human Resources Generalist, built her career in a place she didn’t expect.
Discovering a Passion
Like Kevin, Amanda has spent more than a decade at RDO Equipment Co., expanding her knowledge and moving up to her current role. But unlike Kevin, Amanda didn’t necessarily have her sights set on the career path she chose.
Amanda joined RDO Equipment Co. early in her college years, as an intern with the benefits department. She was focusing her studies in the areas of psychology, business, and finance, yet she wasn’t set on a career in any of those fields.
During her years interning with RDO Equipment Co., Amanda saw how team members at the FSO, particularly those in the benefits and human resources departments, had opportunities to interact with other team members – and that, she discovered, is where her passion lies.
“I knew I wanted to work with people,” she recalled of her years trying to figure out the direction she wanted her career to go. “Looking back on my internship, those years watching how I could work with team members across the company really set me on the path to working in human resources.”
Approaching graduation, Amanda was offered a full-time role in a newly-created position – Human Resources Coordinator.
“It was a brand-new role so I didn’t know what it would look like,” she said. “That was exciting; I had the opportunity to make it my own and establish it in the company.”
Amanda’s success in the HR Coordinator led her through the next decade as she continued to grow and be promoted into new roles. A simple internship ended up being what paved the way for a career path that has kept her challenged and engaged nearly 15 years.
Both Kevin and Amanda are unique, yet similar examples of team members who took advantage of opportunities to gain knowledge and skills that helped them grow into new areas. Proactive efforts like theirs are part of a company-wide focus on learning and development, driven by the Leadership team. This culture, combined with the entrepreneurial spirit the company encourages in all team members, is something Eric Bechtold has always taken to heart.
Paying it Forward
With a degree in education, Eric graduated college expecting to become a teacher. Instead, he found his way to RDO Equipment Co. through a connection to founder, Ron Offutt.
20-plus years ago, Ron saw something in Eric that he felt would make him a good fit for the equipment industry. Starting, as he recalls, “without a job title, doing odds and ends at the Field Support Office,” Eric seized opportunities to push himself and grow into new roles.
His first official position was Parts Professional. Next, Sales Professional, followed by Sales Management. His most recent role was Assistant General Manager/Sales Management and, today, he is General Manager of RDO Equipment Co.’s stores in Billings, Bozeman, and Great Falls, MT.
“Ron took a chance on me,” Eric said. “He gave me an opportunity, then it was in my hands to take advantage of it and be successful.”
Today, Eric instills that same philosophy in his team. He challenges them to accomplish as much as they want and reminds them that there are opportunities for each one of them to find their unique place at RDO Equipment Co.; to learn, grow, and develop.
With his team, Kevin takes a similar approach with another perspective: “I tell them, take the role you’re in and own it,” he said.
Much like Amanda seized her opportunity to own the HR Coordinator role and establish it for the company, Kevin encourages team members, not only to aspire to grow in the company, but to put that same energy into their current job.
From FSO to Field
Kasey first became aware of RDO Equipment Co. while she was working for the company’s audit partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers, in Minneapolis. When a family situation brought her to the Fargo-Moorhead area, she looked to find her place at RDO Equipment Co.
A few years after joining RDO Equipment Co.’s audit team, Kasey moved into a newer role for the company: Financial Planning Analyst (FPA).
“I have accounting and finance degrees so I was comfortable in both of these areas while working at the FSO,” she said. Her next role? A different story.
When a family situation moved her again, this time to Fergus Falls, Kasey continued her FPA role, working remotely out of the Fergus Falls store. When the position of Store Manager opened, she couldn’t help but give it a look.
“In my time as an FPA, I worked closely with our Midwest Agriculture region, so I knew the type of culture I was entering,” she said. Although she had never worked around large agriculture equipment – “I grew up on a turkey farm, so we had much smaller equipment,” – Kasey felt confident in her ability to take on this new role, thanks to the guidance and support of the Midwest Agriculture’s Leadership team – including who would be her new manager, Kevin.
Early on, Kasey benefited from the openness and accessibility of the Leadership team, being able to reach out to anyone with questions or new ideas. Still today, she has that open dialogue and it has helped her become a stronger manager and to partner with customers.
Keeping its culture of learning, development, and entrepreneurial spirit top-of-mind, RDO Equipment Co. strives to be more than a great place to work – it’s a place where team members are empowered to take their career in the direction they want it to go.
Whether a college student interested in the Access Your Future internship program or a seasoned professional looking for a change, all are invited to take the opportunity to build a career, grow in the industry, and develop both professionally and personally at RDO Equipment Co.
RDO Equipment Co. is celebrating 50 years! Learn more about our history by clicking here.