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Like father, like son

By Staff | Dec 23, 2016

Kirby Harmel and Ryan Harmel

Kirby Harmel started working for John Deere in Rugby in 1995 as a salesman. That same year, he also became a father to his first son, Ryan.

Kirby chose to start working for Rugby Equipment because he always liked farm machinery.

“I grew up on a farm and we always had John Deere equipment,” Kirby said. “It is in your blood.”

Kirby said his customers have made it easy to stay at a job this long.

“I have a lot of guys that I have done business with for over 21 years,” Kirby said. “I have watched their kids grow up and now a lot of them farm also.”

During the past 21 years, Kirby saw Rugby Equipment become Gooseneck Implement, and saw many changes in farming equipment and precision agriculture. During this time, he also passed his love of green equipment to his son, Ryan. Kirby said that Ryan spent a lot of time out visiting with customers growing up. Six years ago, Ryan decided to come work for Gooseneck like his dad.

“Ryan has always enjoyed being around equipment and my customers, and I think this helped him decide to work at Gooseneck,” Kirby said.

After high school, Ryan decided he’d go on to North Dakota State College of Science (NDSCS) to study in the John Deere Tech Program. Ryan now works full-time as a service technician for Gooseneck. Kirby said he enjoys working alongside his son.

“It is fun to see him accomplish things at the same place that I have spent so many years working at,” Kirby said. “We also learn things from each other. Sometimes I get a call late at night from a customer having a problem and Ryan and I can help them find the solution together.”

Gooseneck and John Deere place a high value on career development. To help foster career improvement, John Deere has their own training program to allow dealership employees to continue to learn and progress in their designated positions.

Gooseneck average about 20 training hours per year. Recently both Kirby and Ryan achieved “Master” status in their designated job roles. Kirby achieved Sales Representative Master and Ryan achieved Service Technician Master.

For Kirby to achieve the distinction of Sales Representative Master, he had to complete a minimum of 150 Credits from John Deere University. For Ryan to achieve Service Technician Master, he had to complete a minimum of 225 credits. Ryan was able to earn many of these credits while studying in the John Deere Tech Program and NDSCS. He worked to finish these credits while working full-time at Gooseneck.

Kirby said he was surprised to learn that he and Ryan had achieved a master level at the same time.

“For some reason it took me a lot longer; must have something to do with the old and new generation,” Kirby said.

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