Equipment Management – The Real Story

Equipment Management – The Real Story

Ahh Golf Course Equipment Management – the one job everyone wants to aspire to do as you are going through High School….. yea that’s funny. Everyone has a different story and very, very few begin the way this article did. We all made our way to the position based on a few choices, some convincing, the need for a job, or we specialized in a few things that are common in the turf equipment business. Very rarely do people intend to end up here… In my case I went to college to do it at Lake City Community College. If you asked me now if I could have started all over again would I have went this direction I wouldn’t know how to answer it.

 

My Story

The truth is that being an equipment manager isn’t for everyone. I discovered early on that even our industry didn’t see the position the same way I did and a few others before me. This led to me writing my first article Equipment Manager or Mechanic in Golf Course Management Magazine. The year was 2002 and I was 24 years old. I had just moved from my first Equipment Manager’s position in Boca Raton, FL to Naples, FL and saw really quickly that facilities in Naples were up to a different standard. The issue I had was that there was a huge difference and the more facilities I began to visit the more disconnect I seemed to notice. Skill levels all over the board, $19 per hour was huge money I had a difficult time grasping that behind the scenes a lot of places were not as glamourous as they looked. I also wondered as an Equipment Manager at 24 years old where do I go from here for the next 40+ years? It was after writing that article that I knew I wanted to be a part of something bigger. I began really looking at the position and trying to analyze what the most important things to learn were. I was born with the organization skills but what things did I need to learn that would really help me in my career. So I got attached to the cutting units and learned them inside and out. Every adjustment, the effects of each part, etc.

I could write for days on the trials and tribulations I went through but that would just be boring. What I want to share is what I learned. I think the most import things about our careers is the things we pick up that make us better and the lessons we learn along the way. So here is my list of things many of which I wish I would have adhered to earlier in my career.

The List

  • If there is nothing else you pickup from this article understand that the cutting unit is the most important part of your job. Learn it inside and out.
  • Organization – It’s what everyone wants but very few seem to have. It’s not about cleaning your shop and making it look nice the hardest part is keeping it that way.
  • Data – decisions are made from data not thoughts, not it looks like, not I would do this, all decisions are driven off of data so PM schedules, parts spending, equipment inventory, equipment usage, etc, etc are all things that need to be tracked.
  • Communication – Whether you want to do it or not it’s the single most important thing in building a team. If you can’t communicate you can’t do a good job.
  • Own it – Always make decisions as if you owned the place. You will never make a bad one.
  • Speak up – Whether its a distributor, boss, GM, etc let your voice be heard (professionally). Sitting in the background doesn’t get you noticed. If people don’t know who you are that’s your fault.
  • There are always better ways of doing things. Don’t get stuck in doing it the way it’s always been done or you will get left behind.

Regrets

Everyone has regrets and I certainly have mine. I think the more that I take a step back and look at the last 15 years I have a lot to be proud of but I also have some missed steps that would have been great to have a mulligan on. Here are a few of mine:

  • I should have been writing quarterly reports to my Super and GM a long time ago. I had the notion that everyone should know what I do but not the foresight to say you know what how would they know anything more than I fix equipment? If you want them to know what you do tell them what it is.
  • I wish I had started IGCEMA years earlier or had helped someone else start it.
  • While running the association was great the bad thing about leadership is that not everyone will agree with you, understand you or care and while I gained a lot of friends I also lost some as well. That comes with the territory I guess but it doesn’t feel any better.
  • Before I went to college I worked at a golf course (I won’t name) on the crew for a superintendent (I wont name). I worked my butt off trying to learn as much as I could. One day one of the crew guys got written up and while we went in for a drink of water the guy who drove me in went and looked at the guys write up form on the Supers desk. He then was ragging the crew member and I happened to be in the cart. Next thing I know it turns into me reading what was on his desk and the Super fires me. The only golf course I was ever let go from. Still pissed about that 17 years later.

Suggestions

If I were to make a suggestion to Equipment Manager’s out there that may read this I would tell you to create value for yourself and don’t depend on others to do it for you. Take a look at what others are doing and don’t get stuck in just doing things the way you always have. Get involved and meet other technicians in your area you never know when you will need help and one thing I have found is no matter how far away they are you become friends for life.

 

 

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