For Ross Nucifora the key to running a good workshop is knowing what you are good at and making sure the workshop delivers the goods in its specialist area. Diesel Workshop visits the busy RSC Diesels’ workshop in Cairns.
Cairns is a destination for trucks and not a city with a lot of through traffic. It tends to be a location where trucks turn up, unload or get loaded, turnaround and head home. Not many large fleets have a base here, but the trucking industry is busy as the local economy remains vibrant and consumers continue to spend.
The southern edge of the city is growing fast with industrial areas popping up on former sugar cane fields. On one such industrial estate, one of the first tenants was Ross Nucifora, known as Rosco, and his RSC Diesels business. The facility sits on a corner block with truck access in on one side and an exit on the other.
When Diesel Workshop visited the site it was early morning and Rosco was buzzing around in the workshop making sure all was prepared for the technicians coming into work to get on with the job of getting trucks old and new through the workshop and back out on the road making money.
Rosco has been working as a mechanic since 1990 after growing up in the small town of Babinda about 40km south of Cairns on the Bruce Highway, where the cane fields meet the mountains.
“I struggled in school and left in year 11 in 1990,” says Rosco. “My old man rocked up and told me he had got me a job and I asked what I would be doing. He told me I was going to become a mechanic. I started working in a workshop, where he had found an apprenticeship for me, which I did. I was working for North Queensland Spreading Services. They had a wide variety of vehicles ranging from semis to rigid trucks to tractors.
“After that I went to Detroit Diesel and Allison Turbine Company in Cairns. The Series 60 was coming out at that time and I cut my teeth on those engines. I also spent a lot of time working on Allison transmissions.
“In 1996 I went out on my own, bought a ute and it has just grown from there. I come from a family which has always owned businesses. My dad was a butcher, an electrician, a farmer, Mum ran a shop in Babinda. I used to finish school and then go straight down the butcher shop to clean it down. That’s probably why my workshop is so clean all of the time, I am a bit obsessed with it.”
Early in his career Rosco was to meet a lot of new technologies. This was the time when electronic control was only just coming into the picture. With anything new there is a difficult period where the manufacturers have to get it right and the technicians have to understand something different.
“We went through a stage where it was very difficult working with the electronics,” says Rosco. “Cummins were struggling to talk to Eaton, which was struggling to talk to Rockwell. There was little communication between all of the manufacturers. Now, it is a lot different, especially with the European product. When you are working with Scania all of the equipment works together really well and it has simplified the diagnostic process.
“Working in an area like Cairns, it is impossible for someone working in the service field to concentrate on one brand alone. To cover everything there were a series of different diagnostic tools for each brand and for different components in the driveline. I worked out really early in the piece that you can’t do everything. When you are on your own, you try and do everything, and then I worked out it was better to try and be the best at just a few things. If you can nail that you’ve got something.
“My strong point, when I started the business, was doing engine repairs and Allison transmission repairs. Since then I’ve transitioned across into the servicing game and now, trying to get the best out of my staff. I try to work on where their strengths are and not try and use them where their weaknesses are. You get to realise that you are only as good as the people around you. If you have good staff who’ve got your back, do good work and are loyal to you, you’re OK.”