Regional Aftermarket Manager Mike Wollschlager’s favorite part of his job is working one-on-one with team members. He’s always enjoyed leading by relating to others, using his own experiences to help his teammates learn how to work through situations and find solutions. He’s spent the better part of his 30-year career as a manager and has valued the learning and growth that come along with every opportunity to coach and mentor.
It’s perhaps surprising to learn, then, that Mike turned down the first management role he was ever offered.
While working as a Service Technician at what was then a Burnsville Construction and Vermeer store still new to the RDO Equipment Co. family, he was offered a Service Manager job that, at the time, he couldn’t possibly see himself taking.
“I thought, ‘why would I want to make a change when I already enjoy what I’m doing?’”
It’s less surprising when you learn how Mike ended up in the industry in the first place. He grew up in a small Minnesota ag community. Both his grandfathers worked in ag, one as a farmer, the other at a grain elevator. Mike’s dad ran a repair shop and helped any customer who needed him, and it was his exposure to these vital roles that led him to his first Service Technician jobs, a role he never thought he’d trade for anything.
But things that are meant to be just have a way of happening, and eventually Mike ended up in that Service Manager role he first said “no” to. He had different ideas, had observed management styles that worked and, more importantly, ones that didn’t, and he set out to be a different kind of manager. From there, there was no turning back.
Mike led the service team in Burnsville until he and his family relocated to Moorhead, where Mike took on the Service Manager role at the brand new RDO store there. He was Store Manager for five years and Aftermarket Manager for five more before his current role. Though he cherishes every opportunity to mentor others, he admits he misses his days in the shop.
“That’s part of my core,” he said of being a mechanic at heart. “Tearing things apart and putting them back together again has a certain satisfaction that never goes away.”
He speaks from experience when describing roles in the service department as “a way into the industry that will help you pursue any route you may choose. You learn the equipment, you learn what it takes to succeed as a team, and you learn every aspect of the company.”
Mike said the company is alive with the entrepreneurial spirit that sparked it in the first place, where the culture is defined by the quality of people who make up the team, and where everybody works hard to win.
“Any position you take within RDO is an opportunity,” he said. “And your opportunities here are endless, whether you want to become a leader in the position you’re currently in or grow into other positions within the company. You have the support and resources to help you become the best at whatever you choose to do.”
Reflecting on his path over the last three decades, Mike can only sum up the journey, and those who helped him make it, with one word: pride.
“When I started at RDO, I was still basically just a kid. I’ve had opportunities here I may not have gotten anywhere else. People have seen qualities in me, and I probably wouldn’t be where I am today without that. I have a lot of pride working for this company.”