Butler Machinery and EDF Supporting the Next Generation of Students

Founded in 1955, Butler Machinery has strived to provide its customers with the “best in equipment and best product support.” For over fifty years, the family-owned, multi-generational business has maintained this vision by passing along these values in the midst of changes.

Along with 18 locations and a wide network of customers, Butler Machinery offers young people the opportunity to get hands on experiences while getting an education. The dealership offers student interns the opportunity to take part in the Caterpillar Dealer Service Technology Program, “ThinkBIG.” Students are given real-life work experience within the dealership as well as classes and hands on training provided by the program, which works to train the next generation of machinery technicians.

Two of these students, Sterling Holland and Kelvin Nichols, are recipients of the 2018 Equipment Dealers Foundation Scholarship. They each are receiving $1,000 from EDF and $1,000 match from Butler Machinery (Nichols from the Sioux Falls location and Holland from Rapid City). Both say that the scholarship is another opportunity to immerse themselves in the training program by relieving the financial pressures incurred by continuing education.

“Since I was little, I just wanted to learn how to fix things,” says Sterling Holland of his ranching upbringing that piqued his interest in the industry, “and I wanted to learn the best way how.”

Sterling Holland (left) with his instruction Jered Pedersen

After hearing about Butler’s internship from a classmate, Holland knew that this was an opportunity to be able to learn “the best way how” while also further educating himself on other facets within the industry.

Nichols also found the program while researching opportunities for high schoolers after being similarly interested in equipment and automotive related projects following his time as an engineer on his school’s robotics team.

“Big, heavy machinery started interesting me more than cars,” said Nichols, “I learned when I started getting experienced that I just loved being able to the fix problems in the machines, rather than engineering them.”

Both students plan on using their scholarships to pursue their careers while furthering their education at Lake Area Technical Institute. Holland is studying to become a diesel technician, while Nichols is studying to be a field technician and hoping to eventually be proficient in heavy machinery repair, specifically focused on Caterpillar products.

Holland and Nichols also both stress the importance of young people exploring their interest in the industry. “There’s lots of need for all career areas in the industry- there’s always a job for you,” said Holland when asked what he would tell other young people about the field. Nichols says experience can help enrich their interest. “Find classes connected to experience so you can learn in a realistic way.”

The Equipment Dealers Foundation was established in 1988 to provide scholarship funding to help meet the industry’s need for trained individuals. EDF also provides temporary assistance for dealerships and its employees affected by natural disasters. Learn more about EDF and its mission here.