If not for Wally Straub and his persistence, Barton Community College would not have the Case New Holland Program it has today. Thanks to Straub’s insistence and perseverance with the Case New Holland Corporation, the college was able to begin its pilot program in 1995 and turn it into a full-time program just one year later, offering service training to Case New Holland workers across the country.
Since then, 4,500 students have walked through Barton’s doors to attend CNH training. They come primarily from Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, but the college has regularly served Case New Holland workers from 13 states over the past 15 years.
The college took the opportunity to honor Straub during the Renovation Celebration Aug. 12 showcasing the College’s renovations involving three buildings on its campus and including the expansion of the CNH training facility.
Founder and owner of Straub International, Straub saw the need for such a program long before it became a reality at Barton. "In running my dealership, I was always strong in service," he said in an interview during the celebration. "I know how important it is. You sell a $300,000 combine and it breaks down and you don’t have a good service technician to send out, it’s not a good situation."
Straub International in the past would have to fly people to service training in Racine, Wis., and often the class would be full, preventing his employees from receiving the training, Straub said. Finally, at a dealers’ convention in Chicago, one of the representatives spoke about the importance of service training. Straub said he caught up with the service representative later and told him the company had to start bringing the training out locally to the workers.
"We just had to convince these people to bring the training out to us and I finally won my case," Straub said. "We got support from the College. (Then President) Jimmie Downing was very supportive of it. It wasn’t me that really did this. We all worked together. It was teamwork."
Straub had recognized Barton diesel instructor Bert Besthorn as a quality instructor who was familiar with all sorts of farm equipment. Besthorn soon became the certified trainer/instructor for Barton’s Case New Holland Program.
Besthorn couldn’t stress enough the impact Wally Straub has had not only in getting the program started at Barton, but in helping the program run smoothly year after year.
"Wally was one of the big pushes to help us establish training here," Besthorn said. "He came up through a shop, understands the value and the need for training, and for getting it at a price that is tolerable."
Straub’s help didn’t stop once the program was set up either, Besthorn said. "All of the equipment we get in and out of here ships in and out through Straub International," he said.
"We don’t have a loading dock and don’t want one. We don’t have some of the bigger forklifts and things we would need to put this equipment together. When a combine comes in, it’s not on wheels, it’s on blocks and you’ve got to put all that on," he explained.
"Consequently, all equipment ships in and out through Straub’s. They’re responsible for getting it off the trucks and getting it out here," Besthorn said.
In addition, Straub International has been instrumental in helping Barton’s CNH Program when it runs into problems getting the equipment. "In some cases, we’ve run into snags where weather prevented equipment from coming in or it got diverted from us or someone higher up the food chain wanted it," Besthorn said. "We’ve been able to pick up the phone and ask for help. Straub International … has been very good about getting equipment when we need it."
Besthorn read the plaque from the College as he presented it to Straub at the Renovation Celebration. "It says, presented to Wally Straub of Straub International for assistance in establishing and for continued support of service training for Case New Holland at Barton Community College."
Straub responded to the award with his own appreciation. "Being honored like this … I never did get to go to college. It was just a dream. And all of a sudden the College is here honoring me with an award. It’s just very, very special," he said. "You just can’t realize how special it is."