The organisation within Wakefield Trucks feels like a family business, which has its own in-house skill set. Like many of its clients. Eighty per cent of the people working on the floor in the workshop have done their apprenticeship with the company, as well as the management.
South Australia is tough on trucks. They are pulling high masses at high average speeds for long trips, this makes plenty of work for repair shops. Engines, turbos, diffs and transmissions need to be replaced and if the truck does crash at high speed, the body shop has a major task on its hands.
Wakefield Trucks, based in the northern Adelaide suburb of Salisbury next to the major freight routes heading for Port Augusta and Mildura, is the representative of the Penske organisation in SA. The forecourt displays the Western Stars and MANs the company sells.
“We don’t employ from outside the business much at all,” says Workshop Manager, Kieren O’Brien. “We do pick up people who have moved into the state, sometimes. We have tried the 457 visa path in the past, looking for MAN technicians with experience in a product which we have found difficult to find. It was not as successful as it should have been, they have all returned home. We concentrate more on training people in house and we find we have good retention with those guys.”
There are 37 people working on the floor in the workshop, this includes those working in the panel shop. There is wide spread of tasks undertaken in the building with four electricians and three bodyshop fabrication team members. On top of this, there are seven members of the parts team, plus six office-based service people, two of which are on warranty processing and two are service advisors.
This is not not a typical modern dealership which concentrates on the basic servicing of customer trucks and subcontracts out much of the specialised work. Instead, this is a one-stop shop handling everything from bumper to bumper. The team handle paint, panel, engine rebuild, diffs, gearbox, chassis straightening, and much more, in the workshop. The only thing not done in house is wheel alignment.
In fact, this is a truck dealership built around the service and parts section of the business, more than around truck sales. The workshop forms the backbone of the business. Also, the majority of the trucks handled are at the heavier end of the truck population.