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AEMP Announces the 2019 Technician of the Year

Thursday, October 24, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: AEMP
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Kansas City, MO. – The Association of Equipment Management Professionals (AEMP) in conjunction with John Deere present the Technician of the Year award each year to one of the nation’s top technicians.  

This year’s award was proudly presented by Donté Shannon of AEMP and Brian Riniker of John Deere.  “As leaders in our industry, one of the most important things we can do to retain good technicians and promote the career field is to give public acknowledgement of their technicians’ skills and value to their organizations” said Brian Riniker of John Deere.

While there is an ever-growing shortage of qualified heavy equipment technicians, this award shows that extraordinary technicians can be found and highlights their achievement.  This year’s winner and finalists set the bar high and are truly inspiring individuals.  The 2019 Technician of the Year award was presented to John Kelchner of Schlouch, Inc. who was in attendance with his wife and team.  Mr. Kelchner has worked for Schlouch, Inc. for 21 years.  

John Kelchner was nominated by his supervisor Kevin Reimert for saving his company thousands of dollars in crane rentals by fabricating a lifting tool to be used on large excavators and his leadership on the team, but what has set him apart from the other applicants was his humanity.  He makes decisions regarding repairs as if his family were the ones to use it, because they are.  
After 21 years, he views his colleagues as family and it shows.  John Kelchner practices his own additional safety measures to protect his co-workers from his work by utilizing an air scrubber to shield them from harmful fumes and debris in the air.  He converted a foot-controlled operation in a piece of equipment to a hand control for an employee with an amputation. This allowed the employee to perform his job and the company to retain an experienced operator.  In his free time, John creates sculptures with discarded scrap and equipment parts to be auctioned off to raise money for local charities.  

With 15 nominees in the running this year to be the Technician of the Year, it was difficult to select just one.  Two finalists were also recognized as exceptional examples of the technicians the industry needs; Alton Hanes of the Virginia Department of Transportation and Nathan Baker of the United States Air Force.  

Alton Hanes is a shop mentor with 41 years of experience. His supervisor names him as the primary influence for the shop having a reputation of looking out for one another. Other technicians in his shop regularly come to him for advice and instruction on various diagnostic problems.  He takes pleasure in helping neighbors and friends with repairs and gives back to his community by volunteering vehicle maintenance classes at the local community center.  Alton Hanes projects an image the industry can be proud of.  In addition to being nominated for the Technician of the Year award he has also been nominated by his co-workers and won the VDOT commissioner’s award for excellence/lifetime achievement award.

The second finalist is Sergeant Nathan Baker of the United State Air Force.  Sergeant Baker’s methodical repair methods have made him the technician his peers strive to emulate.  He has embedded a culture of safety within his shop leading not only a daily safety reminder but a week end safety briefing as well to cover location conditions to mitigate upcoming safety issues.  Sergeant Baker believes our greatest and most highly sophisticated technology is our people.  
Looking to the future he is working on multiple digital safety mechanisms which would make information more readily available no matter your location.  His constant innovation has significantly cut down on job time while increasing safety and decreasing the operating budget.  He selflessly serves his country with pride, dignity and respect.  In his free time he maintains the final resting places of veterans, feeds those less fortunate, plants trees with the National Forest Department, teaches high school students  hands-on heavy equipment mechanic career practicum and even finds time to organize the funding and building of portable wood working kits that can be used by veterans in assisted living facilities.  

The Technician of the Year award is given out annually to honor individual technicians who exemplify the industry’s best technician.  The technicians are judged on their commitment to education, safety, innovation, professional presence and experience.  If you have a technician you think is worthy of recognition please nominate them at  With your help, we can elevate and bring recognition to the technician profession as an exemplary career.

About AEMP
Formed in 1980, the Association of Equipment Management Professionals represents fleet professionals who work in construction, government, utilities, energy, and mining and more. AEMP maintains relationships among manufacturers, users, governmental agencies, educational institutions and others involved in the design and management of heavy equipment.

AEMP created the term Equipment Triangle. It is the cornerstone of the association’s philosophy that a balanced relationship must exist between the End User, Distributor, and OEM/Supplier in the life cycle of a piece of heavy equipment or product. AEMP advances this philosophy through its education and certification programs. For more information, go to


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