Focus on Warragul trades businesses
This month’s Warragul Business Group Networking Evening turned the spotlight on its tradie members with presentations by David Gallagher of Action 4WD, Laurie Milner of Warragul RV Centre and Jamie Power of Simonds Homes at the Warragul Country Club.
The first speaker, Dave Gallagher of Action 4WD said dyslexia didn’t stop him from having a go at starting up a business. Fifteen years ago, he started from scratch as a one-man business, now employs six people and has plans to grow the business.
Dave said he struggled education wise, leaving school without any qualifications and trained with John Carter Holden as an apprentice mechanic. With so many mechanics in Warragul, Dave felt he should specialise in 4WD vehicles for two reasons.
The first was his passion for offroad vehicles and racing – the recent Outback Challenge at Broken Hill is one example. His second was the realisation that there was a huge market for servicing the needs of four wheel drive owners from grey nomads and families with caravans or camping trailers, to young men who like pitting their skills in ‘bog holes’, to local farmers and trades businesses across the Warragul area.
Now, 30 years later, along his wife Sharon, he runs a 4WD and ARB specialist business at full capacity popular with 4WD enthusiasts, geeks and tradies.
Dave wryly noted that he didn’t even realise he was dyslexic until about 10 years after leaving school, so his spent time quietly learning what customers wanted. He said, “I don’t see dyslexia as a disadvantage, but rather as a benefit in some ways as I have a really good visual memory for technical things and the insides of an engine.”
At just 15 years old, business owner Laurie Milner began his trade as an apprentice motor mechanic, worked locally in both the private and public sector; and then 22 years ago with his wife Karen purchased a caravan business that became known as Milner’s Caravans.
Laurie said their business has had to rapidly adapt and expand its service and workshop facilities just to keep up with the rapid growth and market demand from retirees, and now many young families, who enjoy the outdoor lifestyle.
“The caravan industry alone is worth an $1.2 billion to the Victorian economy with around 105 caravan manufacturers and affiliated production squeezed into a five square kilometre area of Campbellfield in Melbourne,” said Laurie.
Third speaker, sales consultant Jamie Power at Simonds Homes has just won the Simonds National Rookie of the Year Award. After completing Year 11, seventeen year old Jamie left school and started his working career as a labourer.
He worked as a ‘fly in fly out’ worker, on the SMG railways in the Pilbara in Western Australia. “I would work four weeks straight, have a week off and then go back – it was pretty hard yakka,” says Jamie.
Jamie then applied for a job with Simonds Homes, but his first attempt was rejected. He went onto work at a local power station, but clearly made a good impression when he received a phone call six months later with a direct job offer in a different role with Simonds Homes. After just 15 months in the role, Jamie said he was very humbled to receive the Rookie Award.
Contact Susan Keirnan for more information about Warragul Business Group Tel: 5624 3833.