Sarah Lewis

Sarah smiling in front of 9900 self-propelled forage harvester

Meet Sarah Lewis

As she shares what it means to be the 2022 Australia Parts Technician of the Year Winner.

Parts and service is like sport – you do the best you can

Sarah Lewis has played soccer, netball and practiced Taekwondo martial arts, and uses a sporting analogy to describe how she deals with the challenge of supplying parts and advice to customers at the Brandt John Deere dealership in Terang, in southwest Victoria.

"You could get a customer that you don't know with a piece of machinery you've never seen, but you treat the situation the same as you would playing finals. The key is doing the best you can in the moment," Sarah explained.

It's a winning attitude that she took to the finals of the John Deere 2022 Australian Parts Technician of the Year, where she won the title from three other finalists.

Sarah didn't have a defined career path after growing up on five acres in Hazelwood North in the Gippsland region of Victoria. Both her parents were excellent administrators and technically minded, and as ‘a bit of a tomboy' Sarah was used to riding motorbikes, driving tractors, helping around on the farm, understanding how things work and camping.

At school she liked legal studies, so after graduating she moved west to Warrnambool to complete a Bachelor of Commerce degree through Deakin University, majoring in Commercial Law and International Management.

But her heart wasn't in it.

"So five years ago I applied to work as a parts interpreter for Cervus Equipment, which became Brandt. I didn't find it any different to studying at university or working in hospitality which I used to do part time, it was still about customer service," said Sarah.

"Don't get me wrong, it wasn't easy coming in when I was so green at the job, and a woman. Lots of times I had to explain ‘I'm not the receptionist, I'm the parts interpreter!'"

Two and a half years later, she moved to the Colac branch as parts supervisor, before returning to Terang to take up her current role of parts manager, gaining the respect of her customers and working as part of a team. Today Sarah relishes working in an office environment but being able to go out on farm, as well as camping, riding bikes, living in a regional environment and still mains her key interest in sport in her spare time.

"I've considered applying for a higher management role but I'm not sure if I'd miss the day-to-day interaction with customers. It's awesome to be constantly challenging yourself to decipher what people want and whether you have it, and then to have customers telling you how much they appreciate your help," she said.

"I would love to go to speak to regional secondary schools and tell people about the shortage of service techs and encourage them to get involved in sales, parts or anything in the ag industry. This job keeps you interested and challenged every day."

To network with fellow technicians at the John Deere awards in Brisbane was amazing and humbling, she said.

"We had a lot of fun. It's so nice being part of a local community and an international company, " Sarah said.