Running a Workshop

There is more to running a workshop than meets the eye. Professional technicians and their management need to handle the task in a collaborative manner to get the best out of the team. Diesel Workshop has been speaking too one particular example in South West Sydney.

Running the workshop for Adtrans, based in Smeaton Grange in South West Sydney is the task for Greg Mann. In his late 50s, Greg Mann comes across as an affable bloke who calls a spade a spade and really knows his stuff in regards to truck workshop management. That’s hardly surprising considering he has 38 years of workshop management experience under his belt.

Starting at ground level, as a 14 year old he began an apprenticeship with H.W. Crouch at Chipping Norton (Western Sydney) in 1972. After being taken over by Ruslit Crouch in the mid ‘70s, the company was subsequently acquired by Adtrans in ’78 which is when Greg took the reins as workshop manager. Subsequent workshop managerial roles include a 12 year stint with Volvo Trucks and six with Daimler Trucks. Yet it’s intriguing that he’s come full circle. Having kicked off his career with Adtrans in the late ‘70s, he returned to the fold 10 years ago.

Accordingly, Greg gave the impression he’s more than able to tackle any challenge or problem that arises in order to keep the business on track. Yet he also comes across as a fair person who expects nothing more or less than an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay from his workshop staff. And it appears they’re happy to comply. For instance, when asked about the challenges faced by the business his initial response was swift and succinct.

“We don’t really have challenges with staff,” said Greg. “Apart from apprentices, most are long term and have been with us for 10 years or more. When Adtrans bought the previous Hino dealership all the staff in the workshop stayed with us and we’ve put on a few more since to cater for business growth.”

Yet, as if to put a caveat on what he just said, Greg went on to explain that recruiting staff for the Smeaton Grange branch is a different ball game compared with Mascot. This is a good example of how a business like a truck dealership can be forced to face new challenges in staff recruitment due to changes in socioeconomic factors caused by steeply rising house prices close to a capital city’s CBD.

Take a location like Mascot, for example, once a working class suburb on the southern city fringe. Nowadays the soaring price of real estate means the people who live close by tend to be white collar professionals while blue collar workers like heavy vehicle mechanics generally gravitate to the western and southwestern suburbs where most of the truck dealerships and haulage companies are located. It’s a fact to which Greg readily concedes.

“I can advertise for staff for this (Smeaton Grange) branch and I’ll get a flood of people applying and in fact 90 per cent of the people we employ live out this way,” said Greg. “But as for travelling to Mascot, nobody who lives out here wants to contend with the M5 motorway because it turns into a carpark every morning and afternoon during peak periods. So is that a challenge for us? Yes it is.”

In light of this, Diesel asked if there might be a diminishing justification for Adtrans to keep a branch of the business operating at the likes of Mascot?

The suggestion was quickly quashed by Greg who cites the burgeoning container transfer operation of nearby Port Botany alone as justification for the viability of the Mascot operation. Indeed, located near the port, high profile container carrier Lovatt Transport operates a substantial fleet including some 28 Hino 700 Series prime movers. All of these as well as the trailers are serviced and maintained at Adtrans’ Mascot premises.

Read more about this workshop in a full profile in the next Diesel Magazine.