This month we showcase regional Dealership Graham Thomson Motors, situated 2 hours north of Melbourne on the Melbourne-Brisbane route and within 45 minutes of the Hume Freeway for the Melbourne-Sydney route in Shepparton. We chat with General Manager Gerard Michel.
Gerard confirms the Dealership is a 4-time winner of the Kenworth Dealer of Year with 2013 being the most recent. In addition to this, winning the PACCAR Customer Service Excellence Award is another achievement they are very proud of.
Something unique about GTM Kenworth DAF Shepparton is that they were the first Dealership to deliver new Kenworth product into what is now the Toll Group.
A quick sit down with Gerard and we get a more in depth view of his work-life balance.
What’s your favourite local spot?
With three boys heavily involved in sports, the local sports facilities are my favourite areas in town.
What’s your favourite truck model?
Any of the SAR products and of course the T909 for its awesome road presence.
How did you get started in this business?
Having grown up on the family farm I always had an interest in trucks and was lucky enough to get a job straight out of Uni in 1990 as an Accountant at GTM. I then became their Financial Controller in 1994 and with the sudden passing of Graham Thomson in 2002, became General Manager. So the transport industry is the only industry I have been involved in.
If you weren’t working in this industry what would you be doing?
Difficult to answer but I would hope that any other position I held had the same enjoyment and satisfaction that I get from forming business and personal relationships with both our customers and suppliers over a number of years. Seeing young staff develop through the Dealership is also a great source of gratification which I don’t think other industries could give in the same way.
Who is your role model and why?
The late Graham Thomson was such an influence on my early career and was a fantastic teacher, and just observing how he strived for absolute customer service was something that he entrenched in me. I am also fascinated by Richard Branson and his ability to reinvent himself and his business ventures so quickly.
Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.
There is no one accomplishment that I can isolate but seeing the Dealership recover from the recession we had to have in the early 90’s really made me appreciate the measured decision-making process required in this industry with so much at risk. The passing of Graham Thomson and continuation of the business was also extremely significant, as was the sale of the Dealership to Mildura Truck Centre in July 2011. Winning the 2013 Kenworth Dealer of the Year was a goal of mine and was certainly a source of positive accomplishment with all staff celebrating the success.
Is there a customer experience you are most proud of?
There is no one experience that I can describe but winning the much sought after PACCAR Customer Service Award is definitely a highlight as this is an award judged by your customers.
What are your thoughts on the future of the industry?
I think the transport industry is extremely resilient and will continue to grow albeit with the restrictions of Government Policy and the relative economic conditions. I also believe the consolidation of larger fleets is not healthy for rural Dealerships. In our area we have a strong reliance on the rural sector and the manufacturing plants that are drawn to those inputs and whilst they continue to grow, the continual rise of manufacturing costs is a worry. Technology advancements both in the industry and within Dealerships is so positive, we must continue to attract young and enthusiastic men and women into the industry. The future of the transport industry will always have its concerns but the strength will be the quality people that are in and love the industry.
Thanks so much for sharing Gerard!