Turfnet Technician of the Year Finalist
When David Escobedo describes the contributions of equipment manager Jaime Bojorquez to the operation at Westbrook Village Golf Club in Peoria, Arizona, he admits it all sounds a little like a story.
Bojorquez excels at training new employees, fabricating new tools and implements, and can fix just about anything from a decades-old tractor ready for the scrap heap to a co-workers car. Even mower distributors call him for help and advice in fixing their equipment. And, he's turned down plenty of offers for gigs from competing operations.
"Jaime is only 34 years old, but his knowledge and experience in equipment repair is way beyond his years," Escobedo said. "We have equipment here that is well past its average life span because Jaime's preventative maintenance program extends the life of the equipment which saves the club thousands of dollars every year.
"Jaime also has a heart of gold. He knows many staff members are not financially well off, so he is always quick to lend them a helping hand with their personal vehicles after work or on his days off. He will repair or replace starters, alternators, troubleshoot electrical issues, and just about anything one can think of. The guys try to give him money but he settles for a burger or burrito as payment.
"Even when I say it, I know it sounds almost unreal. But that's how he is."
Bojorquez is one of three finalists for the TurfNet Technician of the Year Award, presented by Toro.
Criteria on which candidates are judged include: crisis management; effective budgeting; environmental awareness; helping to further and promote the careers of colleagues and employees; interpersonal communications; inventory management and cost control; overall condition and dependability of rolling stock; shop safety; and work ethic. The winner receives the Golden Wrench Award and a spot in next year's Toro Service Training University at the company's headquarters in Bloomington, Minnesota.
Bojorquez and Escobedo have worked together for a dozen years, and came to Westbrook Village together eight years ago from Palmbrook Country Club.
Escobedo's successor at Palmbrook tried to convince Bojorquez to stay at the Sun City club.
"Good technicians are hard to find, and we know he could make more elsewhere," Escobedo said. "He was offered a job with the city with benefits that we couldn't match, so we try to be flexible with his schedule because he has young kids and he likes to pick them up from school and go to their events.
He'd never trained on anything like that, but he it operational again within 48 hours. . . . He's saved big bucks by bringing back or extending the life of things we thought were done.
"We pay what we can to be competitive. He could go north to Scottsdale and they would snatch him up in a minute. The flexibility is what keeps him here. If he says he has to leave at noon, he's going to leave at noon. That's how valuable he is, but he doesn't take advantage of that. He's humble and hard working."
When the transmission went out on a 25-year-old tractor, Escobedo thought he was staring either at a big repair bill or a new piece of equipment. Instead, Bojorquez bought the needed parts and had the tractor up and running again in two days.
"He'd never trained on anything like that, but he it operational again within 48 hours," Escobedo said.
"He's saved big bucks by bringing back or extending the life of things we thought were done."
With the 36 holes at Westbrook Village, there always are new employees entering the operation, and Bojorquez has developed his own training program to ensure the staff operates equipment properly and safely, how to clean it when they are finished and how to store it for the next person to use.
"He's very hands on in that aspect. In fact, I've stepped away from training and I've asked my assistants to step away from it, too and let Jaime train the staff," Escobedo said. "There are certain ways he likes things done, and I'm not a guy who turns wrenches, so we stay the hell out of his way."
Many equipment managers have a well-earned surly reputation. Bojorquez is the opposite. Whether it is in the clubhouse, pro shop, on the golf course He doesn't talk at people. He talks to them and explains to them why things have to be the way they are."
Jaime Bojorquez of Westbrook Village Golf Club in Peoria, Arizona, Sean Brownson of New York’s Bethpage State Park and Dan Dommer of Ozaukee Country Club in Mequon, Wisconsin, are the three finalists for this year’s TurfNet Technician of the Year Award, presented by Toro.
The winner, who will be profiled later this month on TurfNet, will receive the Golden Wrench Award and a spot in the Toro Service Training University at the company's headquarters in Bloomington, Minnesota.
Criteria on which candidates are judged include: crisis management; effective budgeting; environmental awareness; helping to further and promote the careers of colleagues and employees; interpersonal communications; inventory management and cost control; overall condition and dependability of rolling stock; shop safety; and work ethic.
Click on the links below to read about each finalist.
Previous winners include (2018) Terry Libbert, Old Marsh Golf Club, Palm Beach Gardens, FL; (2017) Tony Nunes, Chicago Golf Club, Wheaton, IL; (2016) Kris Bryan, Pikewood National Golf Club, Morgantown, WV; (2015) Robert Smith, Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, PA; (2014) Lee Medeiros, Timber Creek and Sierra Pines Golf Courses, Roseville, CA; (2013) Brian Sjögren, Corral de Tierra Country Club, Corral de Tierra, CA; (2012) Kevin Bauer, Prairie Bluff Golf Club, Crest Hill, IL; (2011) Jim Kilgallon, The Connecticut Golf Club, Easton, CT; (2010) Herb Berg, Oakmont (PA) Country Club; (2009) Doug Johnson, TPC at Las Colinas, Irving, TX; (2007) Jim Stuart, Stone Mountain (GA) Golf Club; (2006) Fred Peck, Fox Hollow and The Homestead, Lakewood, CO; (2005) Jesus Olivas, Heritage Highlands at Dove Mountain, Marana, AZ; (2004) Henry Heinz, Kalamazoo (MI) Country Club; (2003) Eric Kulaas, Marriott Vinoy Renaissance Resort, Sarasota, FL.