Shane Clark may not have grown up on or around a farm, but he certainly feels like he found a home now in the agricultural industry. He’s currently halfway through his four-year Agricultural Equipment Technician apprenticeship, which is sponsored by the Alberta (Canada) government. He goes to school two months out of the year, and then does the practical, hands-on training at Western Tractor Company in Lethbridge, Alberta.
After high school, he started out as a mechanic for Canadian Pacific Railway, but when that job turned into a behind-a-desk position, he knew he needed to find an alternative, something that would let him do hands-on work. He found that at Western Tractor—plus a whole lot more.
He sees this as a thriving business and one that fits him well. “What I like about the job is knowing I can keep the farmers up and running. It’s just a fact that equipment is going to break down, but John Deere has such great customer service and satisfaction,” he says. “And I get to work on a variety of different things. I find that challenging—and I enjoy the challenge.”
The scholarship he received from the Equipment Dealers Foundation will help him achieve his goal. “I don’t get selected for things, so I’m just in awe,” he says. “I’m grateful to the Equipment Dealers Foundation and to Western Tractor.”
A Family-Oriented Business
Currently, Shane mainly works on repairing combines. Once he has completed his 5,000 hours of training and his schooling, he’ll be a journeyman Ag Equipment Tech at Western Tractor. Shane says that what he likes about this dealership is that they are a smaller company that’s family orientated. “The CEO has a personal relationship with everyone in the company,” he says. “Everyone knows your name, which I really like.” And that’s in keeping with the life he’s carved out for himself and his family. He lives just four minutes from work, which allows him to grab lunch at home and let his dog out. It also gives him extra time with his wife and sons.
While he didn’t grow up on a farm or have the background experience others might have, he says that the ag industry “has been unbelievably welcoming. People are so willing to share their knowledge. It’s like a family.” And his advice to others who might be thinking about making a career or industry change like he did: “It’s a great trade, for sure, for someone who is hands-on and wants to put in the hours to keep people and their equipment up and running.”
About the Scholarship
The EDF was established in 1988 to provide scholarship funding to help meet the industry’s needs for trained individuals. EDF also provides temporary assistance for dealerships and its employees affected by natural disasters. Learn more about EDF here.