Autumn 2019 High Performance Magazine

It’s only just begun for H&P TOPGUNS


The new year marks a new start for many of Hutcheon & Pearce’s TOPGUNs, as the new recruits embark on a brand new career and our graduates take theirs to a brand new level.

With 12 new apprentices and trainees joining the family and five graduating apprentices and three trainees moving up in the ranks, January is a busy time for our TOPGUN Mentor, Matt Duffy and Human Resources Manager, Sarah Johnson.

We caught up with them to see what 2019 has in-store for our TOPGUNs.


Now in its fifth year, the TOPGUN recruitment program attracts apprentices and trainees from right across the Hutcheon & Pearce footprint.

This year is no different with 11 mechanical apprentices and one spare parts trainee commencing in January in the Cowra, Finley, Forbes, Griffith, Orange, Temora and Wagga Wagga branches, and while all come from within the region, but most have moved to join the program

As Sarah explains, the recruits kicked things off with a two-day orientation session to familiarise them with both their new roles and the organisation they’ll be working for.

“We spent two full days working with our apprentices, introducing them to H&P – who we are, what we do, what we stand for, what makes us unique as an employer and how we support our customers – and also what we expect of them. We invited a number of departmental representatives from within the group to give an overview of their department and discuss the expectations they have of employees.

“The second day was more focused around their apprenticeship, what will be expected of them over the next four years in terms of their training at TAFE, their commitment to training and their obligations.

“It can be a bit of an information overload but we try to cover all of these things to make sure they’re right across it all.”

Now that the recruits have been through orientation, they will spend the first few months becoming familiar with their branch and work processes.

“They will be sorting out their tools, getting advice from the techs and figuring out how day-to-day work goes,” Matt said.

“Not only will they be learning the day-to-day running of being a mechanic, they are aged between 17 and 22 so most are also learning all the adult stuff like shopping and washing clothes.”

One of the highlights of orientation was the graduation dinner of the final-year apprentices.

“We held a formal, sit down dinner at the RSL Club and invited our inducted first year apprentices. It gives them an opportunity to see what’s in store for them at the end of four years,” Sarah said.

“It’s also a great opportunity to network as we invite not only the graduating apprentices but also service managers and branch managers, plus the functional management team. We provide graduates with their certificates of graduation from the Hutcheon & Pearce High Performance Academy and the TOPGUN program and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Harold Norman, gave a toast to the five graduating apprentices and three trainees – something he likes to call The Tennessee Salute!”

Matt said that most of the graduating class is staying on with Hutcheon & Pearce in mechanic and parts sales roles, is proof that the TOPGUN program is a big part of the group’s growth strategy.

“The program ensures that we have sustainable growth year on year, providing top-class service technicians that are not only John Deere trained but also Hutcheon & Pearce trained as well.

“And we need this program. TOPGUN has to work for us because there’s not a lot of tradesmen out there to choose from thanks to the lure of the mines over the past 15 or 20 years.

“From my point of view, it’s very gratifying to see them finish at the end of their four years and you can definitely see the difference between an apprentice of six or seven years ago to the ones that are coming through TOPGUN now. Today, these guys are a whole lot more capable, and not just from the mechanical side of it, from a personality side and dealing with customers, too.”

“So, of course, I’m expecting big things from our new recruits.”

In what has become a yearly group bonding tradition, the apprentices band together in a paintball skirmish against Hutcheon & Pearce managers. Paintball is usually followed by a formal dinner, but this year due to extreme temperatures, participants headed to the Murrumbidgee River for a swim followed by a barbecue dinner. Matt was happy to concede defeat to the junior ranks. 

“It was a good battle but in the end, we were outnumbered!”








Back row (L-R) – Travis Wilson (Griffith), Jacob Zieltjes (Forbes),
Richard Pattinson (Temora), Callum Campbell (Finley), Oliver Dean (Cowra),
Luke Fruin (Orange).

Front row (L-R) – Jack Pekin (Finley), Zac Liley (Finley),
Harry Pillow (Wagga), Alex Nicholas (Wagga), Will Cartwright (Temora)




View the full Summer 2018/19 High Performance Magazine here: