June 16, 2024

The diesel doctors: A behind-the-scenes look at harvest, from the shop

Colton Garside, a service technician at Titan Machinery in Greenfield, says there’s an urgency when a call comes in of an equipment breakdown and time is of the essence for he and his shop crew members to spring into action to help the farmer fix the problem so they can begin work again.

Just like humans and animals need doctors to care for them when they’re sick, large pieces of equipment farmers rely on to get their jobs done during busy seasons such as harvest require their own kind of doctors to fix them when they’re broken down.

One of those people is Colton Garside, a service technician at Titan Machinery’s Greenfield location.

Garside is one of those who has worked especially hard this time of year to keep customers happy and going in the field, no matter what happens to their equipment.

“It seems like everybody wants things fixed yesterday, so there’s an urgency,” Garside said. “You always try to keep as many people happy as you can at one time.”

Titan Machinery, a Case IH dealership, has a service department with vast capacities, both in terms of employees and the resources they can utilize. Their territory is also large, covering Atlantic on the west to Waukee on the east, Mount Ayr to the south and places like Carroll or Perry to the north.

Nine service technicians work daily at Titan’s Greenfield location. They are led by Service Manager Brent Bates and are helped by a couple of other assistants who are able to go on service calls with them when needed. Otherwise, they work to keep the shop operating in a tidy, efficient fashion.

Garside said the work he does is almost exclusively out in the field, with the use of one of Titan’s five service trucks. On these trucks, technicians have everything they need to complete a job wherever a breakdown happens. When a customer calls in, Titan Machinery tries to have a technician going their way as quickly as possible.

Solid ground is nice for fixing equipment, but that luxury isn’t always possible for what these service technicians do.

“Since we’ve started fall, I haven’t had an in-shop project yet. I’m never afraid to tackle anything out there,” Garside said. “If it’s broken we’ll fix it on the spot, if we can. If it’s muddy, it’s terrible — the jack always tries to sink out of sight. That’s the worst part, if you don’t have a solid place to work, because you can have a hard time getting something jacked up.”

Garside worked into his current position through an apprenticeship program, which he began after graduating from Nodaway Valley in 2015. He had to commit to four years with Titan Machinery as part of the program. He credits longtime Titan employees Nick Meisenheimer and Larry Meisenheimer, as well as others, for being “huge assets” to his learning.

“Most of our customers are pretty appreciative of what we do for them,” Garside said.

Caleb Nelson

Caleb Nelson

Caleb Nelson has served as News Editor of the Adair County Free Press and Fontanelle Observer since Oct. 2017. He and his wife Kilee live in Greenfield. In Greenfield and the greater Adair County area, he values the opportunity to tell peoples' stories, enjoys playing guitar, following all levels of sports, and being a part of his local church.