As the name suggests, Heavy Automatics is an Allison distributor specialising in supplying, servicing and repairing automatic transmissions. Diesel Workshop spoke with Alex Richards, Workshop Manager at the Brisbane branch.
Heavy Automatics was established by Ron Neville and Claude Dalese in 1990 at Wingfield in South Australia. Having previously worked together at a workshop operation where customer service was not a high priority, Ron and Claude saw an opportunity to establish their own business with the goal of providing outstanding service to customers.
It wasn’t long before the newly established Heavy Automatics was kicking goals and not surprisingly the exceptional service was well received by truck operators in the southern state, some of whom also had depots in Perth. This prompted the boys to open a branch in the west, and soon after other branches followed on the eastern seaboard, starting with Melbourne, followed by Sydney and finally Brisbane.
The Brisbane branch, located at Acacia Ridge, has been in operation for around 14 years and the Workshop Manager, Alex Richards, has been with the company almost as long.
“I started with the company as a trade’s assistant about six months after this branch opened, and I completed my apprenticeship in two and a half years since I’d already been in the industry for five years. Six months later I stepped into my current role as Workshop Manager,” Alex said.
“So you weren’t on the tools for long?” Diesel News asked.
“I’m still on the tools,” Alex replied with a wry smile. “That’s what I love about this job; I can be at the desk one day and pulling a transmission out of a truck the next. Fortunately the team we have here enables me to do some work on the floor as well as my role in the office.”
From its Brisbane branch the company covers all of south east Queensland, west to Toowoomba and north to Gladstone. In addition, there are small satellite dealers which support Heavy Automatics in remote areas where there’s not enough work to justify having a fully operative branch.
Much of the work revolves around the waste and recycling industry which is hardly surprising, given the almost exclusive use of Allison automatics in refuse collection trucks. According to Alex, this enables the company to focus on transmissions which means the best possible service and quickest turnaround times.
“Our competitors do transmissions as well as engine and diff work whereas we specialise in Allison transmissions, although we do other brands of automatics,” Alex explained. “We tend not to do rear main seals, for example. Mostly, we simply remove and replace the trans and subcontract the rear main replacement to Cummins or Torquepower.
“We also do a lot of hydraulics work, primarily because we do the power take-offs (PTO) on the automatic transmissions. We support Chelsea products and Hydreco PTO, and we recently opened Heavy Hydraulics in Sydney, which specialises in hydraulic transport solutions. Our Hydraulics guys have over 40 years of industry experience, which will assist us with initial fit-ups and supply of spare parts. It’s an area we feel we can expand into because customer feedback tells us that turnaround times and quality of service with existing suppliers leave a bit to be desired.
“We take pride in our quality of workmanship and quick turnaround times, which is why we remain committed to the one field we’re most experienced in.”