When you enjoy what you do and the people you work alongside, time has a way of passing by with ease. At least, that’s how Kim Olson, Service Technician with RDO Equipment Co. in Kindred, ND, sees it as he looks back on 45 years of service.
The foundations of Kim’s story were built with a few simple ingredients: an interest in mechanical work and a supportive environment. Upon joining the team at what was then Kindred Implement, he found good mentors in the veteran Service Technicians he worked alongside, and he recalls the way they helped him grow in his early years. That was the beginning of the part of the job that would sustain Kim for the next four and a half decades.
“It’s always the people you work with that motivate you and keep you ready to learn,” he said. Not the least of those people, he would come to find, would be his customers.
“The first few times I went out, I remember hearing some of those rumors of the doubt. ‘How’s this kid ever going to be able to fix my equipment?’ But I also remember what it felt like to pull it off, get the job done, and sense that bond and trust start to form.”
Now, Kim has customers he’s worked with for three generations. He says the key to building such relationships is not only about doing good work but standing behind it, too.
“When I finish a job and the customer comes to pick it up in the shop or in the field, it’s always a matter of telling them to get a hold of me directly with anything that comes up. If they happen to have issues, I don’t want to hear about them from anyone else, I want to stand behind my work.”
A simple way to do this, Kim says, is through proactive communication.
“Within a day or two, I make sure I call customers back and find out how things are working. And let me tell you, they’ll let you know!”
And while it takes a certain amount of vulnerability to ask for such direct feedback, over the long run, it creates an honest connection that is about more than just a business and a customer.
“Customers remember when you come out and get them back going, yes. But they really remember when they call, you answer, and you do what you can right there to help them out. Even if it doesn’t work and they need to come to the shop anyway, they know you’re genuinely looking out for them.”
When it comes to building a career as a diesel technician, Kim highlights a willingness to learn and rely on the support you’re given, much like he did when he first started.
“It’s important to want to express your knowledge. Not just on easy jobs but on harder ones too, you have to be willing to think it through and give an opinion. Right or wrong, you’ll have a mentor to help you learn it.”
Kim describes himself as a practical prankster who sparked memories over the course of his career that he still chats about with old teammates to this day. He says a light-hearted atmosphere makes things a little more fun, which falls right in with advice he offers for work and life, in general.
“Have a great attitude, smile, and things seem to work out better for you and everyone around you.”