THE CLAAS Harvest Centre Northam team has a couple of new faces.
Northern WA service manager Michael Phipps joined the team last year, while Melvyn Parnell transferred from the Katanning sales branch about six weeks ago.
Mr Parnell said an attraction to agriculture, stemming from childhood visits to farming relatives at Cunderdin, was the main reason behind joining the CLAAS sales team at Katanning four years ago.
Mr Parnell, who has a 25 year background in the timber industry after studying manufacturing and supply chain management, said while he could have entered other industries he had a deep appreciation and affiliation with agriculture that he couldn't ignore.
"I wanted to try something completely different from what I was doing before and when a position became available I went for it," Mr Parnell said.
He said he enjoyed working in sales because he could build relationships with farmers, get to know them on a personal basis, and help them resolve their issues for improved efficiency and profitability.
"I enjoy working together with a farmer on a particular project," Mr Parnell said.
"Helping resolve their issues, partnering up and getting to know them - you can't do that in other roles.
"I love doing this."
Mr Parnell said he recently sold his home in Perth and relocated permanently to Northam.
"I was born in Perth but spent much of my childhood during the school holidays in Northam, Cunderdin and Quairading," he said.
Mr Parnell said the challenges farmers were facing between Katanning and Northam were very similar but what they were mainly looking for was "service, back up support and a quality product".
"There's a younger generation of farmers coming through that are not brand loyal - they are business savvy," he said.
"They want to know 'what difference is this machine going to make to my farm and business?'
"There's also a lot more information out there available on the internet and they can look at different options that will suit their needs."
Mr Parnell said CLAAS tractors had an open steering interface which meant they could steer with all GPS systems on the market which was a massive attraction.
"Working for CLAAS Harvest Centre has been fantastic - it is a great business to work for," Mr Parnell said.
"The brand is growing in the market, particularly around tractors, and it's an exciting time to be involved in the business."
Mr Phipps joined the CLAAS Harvest Centre team in October 2020 and divides his time between the Northam and Geraldton branches.
Originally from the West Country in the United Kingdom, he arrived in Australia in 2011 and went to work in the construction and mining equipment industry as a FI-FO worker and was Perth-based.
He was attracted to the CLAAS brand in order to get back to his agricultural roots.
"I came from a farming background in the United Kingdom," Mr Phipps said.
"It was more livestock farming orientated with sheep and beef.
"It is a much larger scale in WA, very different.
"But it's really exciting to get stuck into something new and a different scope of work.
"It's good to get out and meet new customers and work with them and be part of their success."
Mr Phipps said the attraction and most important part of his job was to provide "good customer service and the right back up that they expect".
"Our success rides on the back of their success," he said.
"It's good to be able to help achieve their goals and ensure that there is a brand that they can trust in the future.
"We are one of the smaller players in the market but we hope to change that."
Mr Phipps said his role as the service manager was being the "go between, between the technicians and the customer".
Being the messenger, and especially from the UK, he can end up copping the brunt of Aussie humour.
But with The Ashes cricket clash between Australia and England looming, he was hoping to get some of his own back.
While Mr Phipps' work involves a lot of travel, one of his roles was to oversee and conduct post harvest inspections, repairs and give advice to customers in regards to preventative maintenance.
"While seeding is underway it won't be long before we are through that and heading towards harvest so our customers need to be aware that they have their machines ready for when they are needed," he said.
"They need to be prepped for hay making and grain harvest and we are working to prepare them for that busy time.
"That takes place from August through to Christmas - so it's a busy time of the year."