Travis Shopbell, Service Technician at RDO Equipment Co. – Moses Lake will tell you that while he makes a living working on machines, his entire career has been all about people.
It’s something he learned early in his career, when he was a young Service Technician on an equally young service team with Evergreen Implement. He recalls one particular customer at the time who was frustrated with the team’s inexperience. But when that customer came to them in dire need of a repair, Travis will never forget the honest effort to win him over.
“We went out there and talked to him like a person,” he said. “We told him, sure, we don’t know everything there is to know, but we will figure it out.”
And they did. It took a few more years, but eventually that customer became a customer for life. It was an eye-opening lesson that would continue to pay dividends over the course of Travis’s career, which reached the 20-year mark in 2021.
What Travis enjoys most about his job today are the opportunities to share his experience with others. Looking back, it’s no surprise; as a youngster, he only saw himself pursuing one of two career paths: mechanic or music teacher. He chose wrenches over sheet music, but he’s kept a passion for teaching and helping others succeed all along.
Today, a big part of what Travis finds himself teaching younger team members reaches back to that early realization about just how much people factor into the business of heavy equipment.
“I’ve said it a hundred times: the relationship side of this business is what makes it work,” he said. “Our entire career path revolves around relationships with customers. It’s not just the ability to fix equipment, calm people down, or take care of a problem. It’s letting them know we are there for them, answering phones, and being honest, especially when you screw up, because that’s going to happen.”
And even more than that, Travis finds that perspective can make all the difference in a challenging job.
“It’s hard work, there’s no doubt about it. But at the end of every day, I get to say, ‘you know what I did today? I helped put food on the table of America.’ There’s something seriously down-to-Earth about being part of the farm community.”
And, when sharing that perspective of being part of the ag community with younger Service Technicians, Travis says it’s important to remember just how vital the role is.
“We’re partnering with customers on much more than just equipment. In this work, you are part of something so much bigger than you, but you play a key role in it here in the shop.”