WA’s Mitchell Channer wins parts apprentice of the year at John Deere Technician Awards

Headshot of Shannon Verhagen
AFRI Equipment South Guildford parts apprentice Mitchell Channer with John Deere Australia and New Zealand Managing Director Luke Chandler.
Camera IconAFRI Equipment South Guildford parts apprentice Mitchell Channer with John Deere Australia and New Zealand Managing Director Luke Chandler. Credit: Supplied

A passionate WA trainee with knowledge “beyond his years” and a “knack for problem solving” has been recognised as one of Australia and New Zealand’s agricultural machinery industry’s brightest young minds.

AFGRI Equipment parts apprentice Mitchell Channer was on Friday named the parts apprentice of the year at the John Deere Technician Awards in Brisbane, winning a $3000 prize.

The South Guildford branch apprentice was one of four finalists named across the green agricultural machinery juggernaut’s WA dealerships — all of which were working at AFGRI branches.

The win was a “surreal” moment for the 24-year-old apprentice from Perth, who took out the gong against a competitive field of five Australian and New Zealand finalists.

Get in front of tomorrow's news for FREE

Journalism for the curious Australian across politics, business, culture and opinion.


“It was awesome, I can’t believe it,” he said.

“I was really happy, but nervous doing the speech.

“I think I went a bit red but I was really happy, I had this overwhelming feeling of joy and adrenaline coursing through me.”

In the crowd cheering him on were his friends and fellow WA finalists Albany’s Ben Mummery, Narrogin’s Dillon James and South Guildford’s John Mooney, who were finalists in the construction and forestry service technician, parts technician and turf technician of the year categories.

“It was awesome, it felt like the Brownlow dressing up in a suit and everyone dressing up,” Mr Channer laughed.

“It meant so much to be to be named a finalist in the awards, it was a real privilege and I felt proud to be representing my dealership and Western Australia.

“Now to have won, I feel very honoured and I am looking forward to celebrating with my boss and colleagues who have supported me through my training.”

AFGRI Equipment apprentice Mitch Channer, based in South Guildford, is a finalist in the Parts Apprentice of the Year Awards.
Camera IconAFGRI Equipment apprentice Mitch Channer, based in South Guildford, is a finalist in the Parts Apprentice of the Year Awards. Credit: John Deere Australia/John Deere Australia

Originally working in hospitality but looking for a change, Mr Channer was planning a year of travel and work in the United States before COVID-19 threw a spanner in the works.

It was then that he saw the parts apprenticeship at AFGRI Equipment advertised.

In October 2020, he began in the South Guildford branch and has not looked back since, on track to finish his apprenticeship early by September, before moving into sales and parts with the company.

While not having an agricultural background, Mr Channer’s interest in machinery started many moons ago.

“I always had an interest in John Deere growing up, always had John Deere tractor toys, including one of those ride-on ones that you peddle with your feet,” he laughed.

“But the closest thing in my family to a farm is my aunty living on a property out in Toodyay.”

It meant he was “thrown in the deep end” learning the complexities of the State’s $11 billion agricultural industry and the highly technical space of precision agriculture.

He has also got a look into the civil construction and mining worlds, with the South Guildford branch supplying parts for graders around Perth and machinery on mine sites in the Pilbara, which he said had been a “really interesting” challenge.

“If you don’t get the part to the mines or send the wrong part, that machine can’t operate, so it’s really time-critical,” he said.

He credits his team for helping and supporting him along the way.

“Everyone I work with is awesome,” he said. “It’s the best workplace I’ve had — I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them.”

“The comradery working with everyone at AGRI and learning a lot with the customers has been a great experience.

“There are a lot of career options in agriculture and construction industries moving forward, there’s room to grow and I wanted to be with a good company.”

John Deere Australia and New Zealand managing director Luke Chandler said the ambitious and passionate apprentices working across the sector were a “clear indicator” the industry was “in safe hands”.

“This year’s winners all share extensive technical expertise and a true passion for their work, which made them clear standouts to our panel of judges,” he said.

It is the second year the awards have been held, championing the next generation of technicians and apprentices working in highly technical roles as precision agriculture advances.

In his role supplying customers with a vital flow of parts, Mr Channery’s “knack for problem solving,” and “in-depth knowledge of the John Deere product range” were among the qualities which made him a stand-out among the finalists.

As for celebrating, Mr Channer is enjoying an extra week on holiday in Queensland following the ceremony, visiting family and on Wednesday was cheering to the win at a pub in Mount Tambourine.

Across Australia and New Zealand more than 100 nominations were received, with the dealerships nominating technicians and apprenticeships for their expertise and passion, with input from the customers they serve.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails