A John Deere Publication

Michelle Roth is employed at Murphy Tractor & Equipment Co., a John Deere construction and forestry dealership serving customers in five Midwest states. She is a supervisor at the dealer’s sprawling location in Kansas City, Missouri, where construction firms are juggling high demand and busy schedules to support an evolving city and growing economy.

Spring 2024

Arm in Arm


Female techs force a new path forward

Clock Icon 5 MIN READ

From an early age, Michelle Roth realized she was the kind of person who loved to tinker — and would prefer down-and- dirty, hands-on type of work instead of a buttoned-up desk job.

But as she grew older and started pursuing that path, she noticed there weren’t many other girls with a similar mindset. Roth took a two-year vocational program for diesel technology, where she was just one of two girls enrolled. She and the other female quickly became close friends — and encouraged each other to push forward and chase their dream.

“I learned from an early age that you have to link arms in this industry,” Roth recalls. “When you find other women in this line of work, you have to help lift each other up.”

Roth has maintained that mindset as she’s continued to settle in — and climb the ranks — in the professional world. And it’s influenced the way she sees other females who are forging their path in the industry.

Roth is now employed at Murphy Tractor & Equipment Co., a John Deere construction and forestry dealership serving customers in five Midwest states. She is a supervisor at the dealer’s sprawling location in Kansas City, Missouri, where construction firms are juggling high demand and busy schedules to support an evolving city and growing economy.

Rolling with the punches is an essential part of carrying out the job effectively.

“There really isn’t a typical day with this job,” Roth says, peering around her hectic shop floor to emphasize the point. “Your whole day could take a left turn at any point. You have to be ready to stop and pivot if that’s what you need to do.”


Roth strides across the Murphy Tractor shop floor with a sense of pride and purpose. She banters with staff members, checks on equipment, and coordinates schedules.

Although she has only been with the company two years, Roth has quickly ascended to a supervisory role. Confidence has been key.

“When it comes to getting things done, I don’t see myself as any different than a man in this industry,” Roth says. “I meet everyone with a firm handshake, and I let it be known that I am here to get the job done right.”

Roth oversees four technicians, including another female making her mark in the industry. Sarah Davidson joined the team as a service technician in late 2022.

Davidson grew up just a couple of miles from the Missouri River in a rural area she and her family referred to as “the Bottoms.” Her father owned a construction company and introduced Davidson to the wide range of machines in its fleet. Whenever he needed to fix his equipment, his daughter watched him with a sense of wide-eyed wonder.

“My love for all this definitely came from my dad,” Davidson says, scanning the machinery around her. “That’s what I remember him doing when I was a kid. I couldn’t believe everything he could do.”


In her professional life, Davidson uses those memories as motivation.

She spent years working on another large farm, where she drove heavy equipment and performed regular maintenance on it. She later got a job with the state of Missouri, where she had an opportunity to work on more construction vehicles and sharpen her résumé.

Throughout the process, Davidson kept a watchful eye on her dream job of working at Murphy Tractor, a place that employs highly skilled technicians who work on the kind of big machines she has grown to love. She recalls applying for a technician position multiple times, only to be told there were none available.

When Davidson finally learned of an opening at Murphy Tractor, she leapt at the opportunity. She interviewed for the job and, by the end of that day, found out she had landed the position.

“I’ve always been persistent, and if I really want to do something, I am going to do it,” Davidson says. “My dad always told me I could do anything I put my mind to. And that’s been true.”

It’s a lesson that she’s more than willing to pass along to other women trying to find their place in the construction industry.

“You have to be a little fearless,” Davidson says, a glimmer forming in her eye as she delivers the words. “I think some women who are trying to get into this industry are afraid of hearing ‘no.’ If more women were to apply in this industry, they’d be pleasantly surprised that they can get their foot in the door.

“I’m proof of that,” she continues. “Don’t give up. Just keep trying.”


Taking a close look at the undercarriage of a massive excavator, Davidson carefully checks fluid levels and assesses a range of diagnostics.

Roughly one year into her role as a service technician, she’s learning the ropes and living the dream.

“I enjoy coming to work every single day,” Davidson says. “I look forward to being here — and that says a lot.”

Teaming up with Roth has been an unexpected perk of the job, reminding her of the old friendship she’d formed years ago back in vocational school.

“We love working together,” Roth says of Davidson. “We talk a lot about the equipment we’re working on and bounce ideas off each other. Sarah’s never afraid to ask questions. It’s a great relationship.”

As a supervisor, Roth is now applying the lesson she learned early in her career journey: You have to link arms. It’s why she’s always happy to inspire the next generation of females pondering a career in construction.

“If there’s anything I can do to make their journey a little bit easier, I am going to do it,” Roth says, “whether that means encouraging a young girl or talking to students at a trade school. I know I can make a difference to them. I can look at those girls and say, ‘You can do this.’“

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