Finkbeiner is Mohave County Facilities Manager
KINGMAN – Butch Finkbeiner has only been the Mohave County Facilities Manager since late 2021. However, he was born and bred in Kingman and has spent all of his life loving the community.
Graduating from Kingman High (now Lee Williams High) and receiving his BS in Electrical Engineering at Northern Arizona University, Finkbeiner’s career before arriving as a county employee is what makes him an interesting standout. He was a 30-year employee of the Ford Motor Company in leadership roles at both Yucca and Wittmann, Arizona proving grounds.
When Finkbeiner was in second grade the class took a field trip to the Yucca Proving Ground. He has a photo of himself there. Then in his last year at Northern Arizona University he had a summer internship at the proving grounds. Shortly afterwards, a position opened up and he got the job fresh out of college.
For those who may not know, the Yucca Proving Grounds (4,000 acres off Interstate 40 in Mohave County) is a legendary site for the testing vehicles. Among its many challenges and ultimate successes is the testing of the Ford Bronco. The work accomplished there was the genesis of the huge success of that vehicle in the marketplace.
Finkbeiner has many stories of incidents that occurred there. One is the amusing true tale of two lost young females who ended up hitchhiking on the high-speed oval track. The test driver passed them on one lap and stopped to help them as he came by again. He picked them up and drove a couple more laps on the track to see if they noticed they were essentially going in circles. One seemed to recognize a side of the road at some point, thinking it was farther away than they had imagined. (He got them help from security, by the way.)
Finkbeiner emphasizes that he is not a “gear head.” It took loads of learning and training and the immense help of other workers to guide him properly into fulfilling the demands of the job. He says “there were many talented co-workers with enormous knowledge in vehicles and testing, who took the time to teach me what they knew. It was an incredible work-family.”
At the proving grounds workers like Finkbeiner performed truck and heavy truck durability testing, car and truck corrosion testing, performance testing, and hot weather testing. He was heavily involved in conducting, evaluating and coordinating tests and their results and developing new test methods and events. He also coordinated media events, mostly product launches.
The proving grounds was operated by Ford from 1956 until 2007, when it was sold to Chrysler. Finkbeiner says: “The memory that sticks to my mind the most at both proving grounds, Yucca and Wittmann, was the ability of the personnel to rise to any challenge. We had several requests that required all hands-on deck, and the team always rose to the challenge. It was extremely satisfying to be part of that experience and teamwork.”
Finkbeiner now has a different type of team in the Mohave County Public Works department as its Facilities Manager and he’s just as proud of them, his “work family,” for accomplishing the multiple tasks they face. “There’s something new that happens every day and it lights my fire and makes me want to come to work. He adds that ‘customer satisfaction’ is the key.” Finkbeiner and wife, Claudia (who also worked at Ford) have two adult children. The couple lives in Kingman with horses, dogs, cats, rabbits and chickens, a life he says he totally loves.
(This is part of a series of profiles of Mohave County employees written by Mohave County Communications.)
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