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RiverTech Irrigation: A Company that Believes in More than 'Good Enough'

“I like water and I like Ag,” Shane Shiplet shrugged simply when asked how life brought him to RiverTech Irrigation in Hermiston, OR. “It's a bit more interesting than that,” laughed general manager, Kevin Harrington. “more of a Shop Boy to Owner story.” When Shiplet was in his 20s, married, two kids and one on the way, he decided he wanted to have a job that meant something. He wanted to work in agriculture, and he knew the owner of the Valmont store in Tri-Cities. He was hired, at a pay cut—to sweep floors. He didn't care though, he was finally on a career path that he wanted. He also began working the parts room; familiarizing himself with the basic building blocks of irrigation systems. This became the foundation of his ever-growing understanding of the business and all of its moving parts. He doesn't credit his own resourcefulness though, “I had good mentors. Fred Stone was especially good to me. He taught me the trade. I learned design, I learned how to talk with people—and I started taking calls on my own.” Shiplet kept working his way through each part of the business. He spent years learning about center pivots and he eventually expanded into sales. Shiplet spent about ten years working for Valley corporate traveling around the region: Washington, Oregon, Utah, Nevada, and British Columbia, meeting growers. In 2018, Shiplet had the opportunity to open his own business— RiverTech Irrigation in Hermiston. He temporarily partnered with Roman's Precision Irrigation out of Vale, and they jointly opened an additional store in LaGrande. From the years Shiplet spent working as a Valley dealer, he had met a lot of growers in Umatilla County. “Many of the people I work with now, were just kids when I started,” laughs Shiplet. “They have gone off to college and come back to work the farm. Many of my customers are 2nd and 3rd generation farmers. It's good to be part of that kind of community.” Shiplet says that in all the places this industry has taken him, he really enjoys his current location best. “It has the largest diversity in crops and farm groups,” he says. “Plus there is clean water, good power, and big farms.” “It's also nice to be local and not corporate,” he adds. “you get  to be part of the community—FFA, fairs—and the long-term relationship of that community benefit everyone.” One of those relationships that Shiplet is appreciative to is Nelson Irrigation in Walla Walla, Washington. Nelson Irrigation is the world standard for agricultural and industrial water application. Their engineers are constantly working to develop new and better products with precision and efficiency—and Shiplet has felt lucky enough to have been able to work directly with them over the years. “Sprinklers are so important,” Shiplet says, “You could have the best infrastructure, but it's all pointless without the proper sprinklers.” Shiplet and his team work hard to suit the needs of their customers. “Our primary focus is center pivots,” Shiplet says. “We know our equipment—we know how to service it.” RiverTech will assess the customer's water use requirements and availability to determine the best and most efficient irrigation equipment. Once the equipment is up and running, they will provide detailed instruction for system use, scheduling and maintenance of the machines. RiverTech offers not only hands-on instruction for their customers but also classroom training to better learn the telemetry features that the Valley app offers. “As 'human resources' become less available to the farmers each year, it becomes more important to make it as easy as possible to water with less people each year. Our tech doses that.” A grower doesn't just have to rely on his phone though, RiverTech offers valuable customer service— Sunday morning, Wednesday night, or even on a holiday weekend, if there is a problem, the team at RiverTech is on-call. Techs are dispatched with a well-stocked service truck and a vast knowledge of pivot, pump and motor systems. Service technicians are trained through Valley. RiverTech Irrigation designs and installs new center pivots, re-pipes older pivots, does regular servicing, and will help connect your existing system to work remotely. They cover Umatilla, Walla Walla, Benton and Morrow Counties. “We have an amazing team,” Shiplet repeats several times, “we try to provide a positive work environment—and when people want to come to work every day, they work better. Our team doesn't believe in 'good enough,' it has to be 'just right,'” Shiplet said proudly. RiverTech Irrigation is always accepting applications for construction crew, service technicians, and sales positions from qualified individuals who want a career in the center pivot construction field. For more information visit www. rivertechirrigation.com

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