Labour drain forces Griffin Motors to shut its doors

Well-known truck repairer Griffin Motors is shutting shop after 63 years in the game due to lack of skilled workers

By Ruza Zivkusic | August 19, 2011

Truck repairer Griffin Motors is closing down after 63 years due to the lack of skilled workshop staff.

The family-run business in East Maitland, NSW, has seen its team of 18 workshop staff drop down to three during the past year due to the mining boom that continues to drain the transport sector of its skills base.

Director Lynne Jack says the building will be up for auction on September 9, with the heavy vehicle workshop also auctioned on September 28.

She is unable to sell the company to other businesses because they are also struggling to find skilled labour.

"It’s been a very difficult year. What happens when your people leave, you can’t replace them and it puts extra pressure on everybody because your customers are still coming in needing repairs done and everybody’s working a lot more hours to keep the trucks on the road," Jack says.

Griffin’s major customers are Marathon Tyres, Orica Limited and Aurecon Australia. Jack has dealt with some of her customers for 40 years and says she feels like she is losing a family now that the business is shutting its doors.

"I’ve got customers that ask what they are going to do and I can’t answer that; I can’t tell them where to go," she says.

"They’ve grown their business by the service we have given them and so they have to reassess their business because we won’t be there to support them. It’s really sad because I feel like I’ve let customers down by doing this."

Jack believes more needs to be done to raise the industry’s awareness at schools to attract young people.

"I think we need to go back and talk to parents and schools. The industry has to sell the industry to the kids. Because we haven’t done that this is why we always get kids for work experience from the bottom end of the class.

"They have to be able to read and write, and the literacy in Year 10 students I’m seeing for work experience [is] they can’t even read or write.

"The government will not solve anything by bringing tradesmen in because the standard of workmanship that we require as an industry they don’t have."

Griffin Motors has serviced Volvo from 1971 to 2002. It then worked with Scania until last year.

Allan Maddox, who worked for Volvo as a national manager in the 1990s, says he is sad to see Griffin Motors close down.

"While I was working for Volvo I had a relationship with Griffin Motors and it’s sad to see it go because the reputation that they have in the motoring industry is phenomenal," Maddox says.

"What’s happened today has been going on for 20 years. When we were kids we grew up repairing bikes and motorbikes and cars. Today no-one repairs anything, it’s thrown away and kids go to computers.

"In those days, if you couldn’t get a job as a trader you get a job as a mechanic. Today you have to be really intelligent and be able to read laptops and the technical side.

"Truck owners will be worse off for it because it will be harder for them to get the service that they need. Other repairers are in the same position. They don’t have the staff either and you can be waiting for two to three days to get your truck repaired."

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