A small diesel workshop in Melbourne’s east has to do a little bit of everything for their customers, but still maintains the kind of standards any trucking operator would need to keep their trucks efficient and compliant. Diesel Workshop meets up with the team at Nota Motors.
Hallam, at the eastern edge of Melbourne, has an intense concentration of road transport related industries. Just across the road from the Maxicube trailer factory is an unassuming truck workshop, which is doing a sterling job keeping a number of small fleets, and some larger ones, on the road.
The business is run by two brothers, who took over from their father who started the business. They are working hard to adapt their business to the new requirements of truck owners. Times are changing in the trucking industry and small workshop owners need to adapt and ensure they have the latest equipment in order to keep up with those demands.
Nota Motors has been in business 38 years. It was started by Harj and Aman Nota’s father who had emigrated to Australia from the UK some years before. Originally based in Keysborough, the business moved to a new block of land in Hallam and built its own workshop a few years later.
“All of our customers used to be small fleets and owner drivers, but that has changed in the last few years,” says Harj. “In the last five years or so we have been targeting the bigger fleets. Doing a lot more fleet maintenance and roadworthy inspections.
“We just had to sit down and work out what it would take for us to grow. We could have carried on doing the business the way we were doing it, but if we wanted to grow we decided to invest a lot in marketing, getting out there and targeting the bigger companies.
“It means you have to keep up with technology and keep modernising your equipment. We needed better scan tools, as the trucks are getting newer. There’s a lot more paperwork involved, a lot more admin, and there’s more responsibility and liability on us. There is an onus on us to make sure the vehicles are safe.”
Nota Motors are now doing a lot more auditing for VicRoads. They are working with garbage truck fleets where there is a need to keep a track on and record every single job which is carried out, including photographs and videos of defects.
The company employs seven people on the workshop floor at the moment, including one apprentice and another apprentice who has just qualified. The workshop supervisor is, himself, a former apprentice. Add to this a couple of casuals who can be pulled in, work gets very busy. There are also three employed in the office on the administration side.
“In terms of keeping people, you have to treat them all individually,” says Harj. “You have to look at their needs and wants, as well as rewarding them financially and showing them there is a way to progress within the business.
“The hardest thing is to find the right person. It’s very hard to do it in just one interview, when you sit down with someone to find out whether they will be the right person for you. We always give people a trial for a few days just to see how things work out. More often than not after the three days trial they don’t come back. It happens about 80 per cent of the time. They don’t realise just how hard the work is.
“Things like the new hoists do make the job a lot easier, but you still have to take the wheels and the drums off the truck yourself. You have to get underneath the truck and it’s not clean under there. There are very few people suited to this job.”