Quiet achiever wins top prize

Big Rigs - - NATIONAL TRUCKING INDUSTRY AWARDS - Brent Dav­i­son

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.”

PHOTO: JAMES GRA­HAM

WORK­SHOP LEG­END: Mod­est men­tor Tony Wright with the Craig Ros­eneder Award in Melbourne.

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