Qualified Turf Equipment Technicians a Thing of the Past?

Qualified Turf Equipment Technicians a Thing of the Past?

It seems like every year there is a time of the year that I sit back and take a look at the golf and turf industry and where we are and notice things are not getting any easier. Today I find myself looking for an assistant technician as my last one has moved up, and its not going to be easy. Typically I have found someone with mechanical promise on the grounds crew and just moved them into the shop and trained them but even that is getting hard to come by these days.

In addition to the expertise issue most all of the equipment technician programs around the country have shut the doors and so we are left searching other industries, who are also hurting, trying to steal someone over to our industry. This is also easier said than done because in order to steal someone you have to have a nice carrot to dangle in front of them. Letting them know that the job requirements consist of grinding reels, electrical troubleshooting, hydraulic troubleshooting, welding, painting, equipment operation, organization, small engines, diesel engines, etc etc for some reason tends to be a little overwhelming. Just 10 years ago was about the end of the work on the car with your dad era that I was in. This is where kids learned that they liked working on things. Now we are in the take the car to the shop era and those kids will never know if they like it or not.

If that wasn’t enough while the golf market is slowly coming back in most places, the costs are getting higher with labor being one of the main pieces of that puzzle. Technicians that are qualified are in the drivers seat these days because there are so few around and that has and will continue to raise the pay rate. That is good for us as existing technicians but when we reach out to find some help it’s a ghost town. As an example I have a client from consulting that is now paying 15k higher to secure a qualified Equipment Manager than the last one he hired because it is difficult to find them but also because equipment is more sophisticated and expectations continue to rise.

As an industry we need to figure out how to fix the problem. In 2007 I called a meeting with industry leaders who traveled to Lake City Community College in Lake City, FL (that program has shut down as well) to discuss this issue before it got serious. We had some great ideas to put the spotlight on technicians and that has helped get us to where we are today with GCSAA and now regular columns in industry magazines and being mentioned more in the big 3’s publications but it hasn’t helped us get new blood into our industry. We tend to cover our eyes to the issue until it becomes our problem or the new answer is we will just pay more. While some clubs have that luxury many do not. This is the situation we are currently in where we will have to raise the wage until we can get someone qualified in the door.

As of today there are 67 jobs for technicians on Turfnet alone! That doesn’t include the lower paying positions that are utilizing Craigslist and multiple other local advertising options. I think that it is important that as an industry we take a look at this growing issue. As for me we will do what needs to be done to hire someone but that doesn’t help all the other clubs that are hurting from a lack of talent in the shop.


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1 Comment

  1. Mike Craft
    August 04, 12:35 Reply

    Agreed, and being on the dealership side of the fence the last 3 years seeing the new technology coming out and in the future, the shortage isn’t going to get any better.

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