Growing a Workshop

Adtrans Group know all about growing a workshop, right from the time of the late Graeme Bignell, founding father of the Adtrans group, who kicked it all off with the purchase of a Ford dealership in Adelaide back in 1971. It’s a true rags-to-riches story, as prior to this, Bignell had struggled to make ends meet running a taxi. He gave that away and started as a car salesman at the dealership he ended up buying 12 months later.


From these humble beginnings the operation steadily grew to become an $800 million public company operating 38 dealerships and was eventually acquired by A.P. Eagers, Australia’s oldest publicly listed automotive company, in 2010.


Growing a Workshop


The Hino element of Adtrans commenced in 2007 with the acquisition of an existing Hino dealership with well established branches at Mascot in southern Sydney and Gosford on the NSW central coast.


A third branch located at Camden on Sydney’s southwestern outskirts was much smaller and in no shape to handle the increasing demand for Hino sales and support in the region. Situated on the old Hume Highway, it was originally a service station with a twin bay workshop and an extra garage that had been added on at the back.


“Having just one mechanic and one apprentice, we established that it was never going to be big enough,” said Greg Mann, Adtrans group Service Manager. “But it was a foot in the door, so to speak, and it gave us a much needed presence in an area where our competitors were already strong. Right from the start we knew it was only a stop-gap measure to tide us over until a new facility could be built.”


Which is precisely what happened in 2010 when a chunk of land was purchased at Smeaton Grange near Narellan with construction commencing soon after. All up around $4 million was spent on the project.


“I’ve lived in this area for 35 years, it’s getting bigger all the time and hence the company decided it was the right thing to build a new facility with future growth in mind,” Greg continued. “Our location here is good and it will get even better over the next couple of years when the new bypass of Narellan is completed. This will allow traffic along Camden Valley Way to pass right by our dealership on the way to or from Picton, Camden or Campbelltown. It will work out well for us when it’s all finished.”


The dealership has been in operation for nearly six years now and already, he says, there are times when it’s not big enough. The day of Diesel News’ visit was early in the month and the workshop was running at well below capacity but according to Greg that situation can change in a heartbeat.


“The work goes in cycles,” says Greg. “The first few days of the month can be a bit quiet but come back here next week and we’ll be moving 10 or more trucks a day through the workshop.”