Quiet achiever wins top prize
MANAGING a successful workshop in the modern transport industry can be a tough job and being an innovator in the modern industry an equally big call. But to be both?
Tony Wright, workshop manager for Divall’s Earthmoving and Bulk Haulage in Goulburn, NSW, is such a man.
Recently his achievements were honoured by the Australian trucking industry at Melbourne’s Castrol Vecton Awards, at which he was presented with the 2018 Craig Roseneder Award for technical and maintenance excellence in the workshop.
Modestly, Tony said in his 13 years with Divall’s he has only done what needed to be done, adding that the award came as a huge surprise.
Downplaying his achievements, Tony said he looks after the workshop and its 22 staff.
“We run two shifts and look after a fleet of trucks and heavy plant.”
But under Tony’s guidance and insistence the workshop has moved from written records kept in exercise books to a fully computerised fleet management system, streamlining the operation and saving the business both time and money.
There is also a strong association with TruckSafe. Established by Tony’s predecessor, it has become stronger under his stewardship.
Describing Tony as a modest man, Divall’s director Andy Divall said his workshop manager had been involved in a number of developments.
“He implemented a state-of-the-art, drive-through (servicing) pit. He was instrumental in its research and development,” Mr Divall said.
Tony also has a strong reputation with apprentice training.
“Since I’ve been here we’ve had more than 20 apprentices go through and I try to pass on whatever I can and hope that, when I’m finished, I might have helped out guys who can continue on.”
The problem both he and the transport industry face though is not so much getting apprentices, but keeping them post-apprenticeship.
“Getting them in is not the hard part, retaining them is,” he said, suggesting that training-up tradespeople is easier than finding experienced people.
Through his approach he has retained a solid core of “really good guys” in his 22-strong team maintaining Divall’s 57-strong truck fleet.
“We might be a little bit unique in some ways because we don’t only do trucks, we have a whole range of stuff from heavy plant to mobile crushers and screens as well, some 600 pieces of equipment in all,” he said.
“We train them as heavy plant mechanics and then they do crossover courses into heavy vehicles through TAFE.”
Tony said the company had tried every style of apprenticeship from school-based apprentices (training at school but working on site one day a week) to mature-age apprentices.
The battle though, he said, is the migration of tradespeople from the transport and heavy machinery industries to the mining sector and the higher incomes it promises.
Others leave the trade altogether because of the responsibilities involved, Tony suggesting liability laws and threats of litigation are scaring some people away.
For his part, Mr Divall said he admires the way Tony has managed to hang onto the tradespeople once they have finished training.
“He’s a tough nut but he’s very disciplined with them and he takes a very good approach.”
As his award prize, Tony will be a guest at the US Technology and Maintenance Council’s 2019 Annual Meeting and Transportation Technology Exhibition in Atlanta, Georgia, in March.
Does he plan to come home with a head full of new ideas or will he show the Americans a thing or two?
“I really don’t know, it’s all new territory. Maybe a little bit of both. You never know.”
WORKSHOP LEGEND: Modest mentor Tony Wright with the Craig Roseneder Award in Melbourne.