Technical innovation done Wright

By: Cobey Bartels

Tony Wright has achieved an immense amount across his 37 years in transport and machinery and he’s working to share that knowledge with the next generation. We sit down with him to find out what makes him tick

Technical innovation done Wright
Tony Wright


Divall’s Earthmoving workshop manager Tony Wright recently took out the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) Craig Roseneder Award in 2018, an honour that recognises technical and maintenance excellence.

"I was pretty happy to be a finalist, but honestly I didn’t think I had much of a show after that," Wright tells us.

"I didn’t think it was going to be me that won, let’s put it that way!"

At the age of 15, Wright caught the heavy machinery bug after taking on an apprenticeship at local company Blue Circle Southern Cement at its Marulin Quarry operations.

"I started my apprenticeship as a fitter and machinist at 15 in 1981, straight out of school," he says.

"After the apprenticeship I did about 20 years with three different CAT dealers."

During his time at CAT, he realised he preferred working on heavy vehicles, prompting him to take on additional qualifications.

"I became a mechanic a few years after my first apprenticeship because I preferred the trucks and heavy plant stuff."

In 2005, Wright’s career took a leap and he decided to try his hand at the management side of things.

"I came on at Divall’s as workshop manager, back in 2005.

"I’m pretty proud of where things have come from since then – I remember when we had all the used parts in an old railway carriage and records in exercise books."

Safety is high on the agenda and Wright accredits the ATA’s TruckSafe scheme with keeping the 24/7 workshop and more than 30 mechanics, technicians and apprentices safe.

"Divall’s were one of the earliest into TruckSafe and it’s driven a lot of the safety and our guidelines with the trucks," he says.

The commitment to TruckSafe under Wright’s guidance landed Divall’s the inaugural John Kelly Memorial Award in 2011, recognising the company’s commitment to the safety scheme.

An immense amount of electricity is needed to keep a fleet of 42 heavy vehicles, 32 light trucks, 17 agitators and more than 500 pieces of plant equipment on the road.

Read our wrap-up of the 2018 TMC awards, here

Divall’s credits Wright with ‘leading the charge’ towards a more sustainable solar powered workshop, utilising roof panels.

"We’ve got a huge roof space here so along with some of the other managers we thought it’d be a good idea to implement solar.

"Divall’s as a company is pretty big on the environment, so it makes sense."

When asked what he’s most proud of, Wright spoke about the future of the industry and his commitment to passing his knowledge onto the tradespeople and technicians of tomorrow.

"I guess the biggest kick I get out of my trade now is bringing along apprentices, we get a lot of guys come through and stay with us.

"I just enjoy being part of the team and passing on any of my knowledge to people that are interested in learning."

Divall’s HR manager Narelle Swift tells us that Wright’s commitment to training and development has led him to putting more than 20 qualified tradespeople back in the industry.

"Over the 13 plus years’ duration of Tony’s employment, he has been responsible for the continued development and advancement of mechanical apprentices, trainees and trades assistants within the workshop environment," Swift says.

"Tony has nurtured and managed 17 young apprentices to the successful completion of their mechanical trade certificates and supported and guided three adult apprentices to reach their lifelong goals.

"A further four more young apprentices are currently undertaking their trade certificates under Tony’s guiding hand," she explains.

Wright champions the heavy vehicle mechanical trade in every way possible and Narelle says he even helps train apprentices from other organisations that may not have access to the latest equipment.

"Tony is passionate about the continued growth & development of the general mechanical industry, and has always been a great supporter of TAFE NSW," she says.

"It was at Tony’s request that a number of tools have been donated by Divall’s, directly to local Goulburn TAFE, for the advancement of apprentices from all organisations, who may not have access to certain equipment.

"Tony, in liaison with TAFE educators, has organised for mechanical apprenticeship students to visit Divall’s workshop and undertake training on some of our advanced workshop equipment."

Goulburn TAFE’s head automotive teacher Wayne Gorham says it’s his passion for the industry that sets him and his team apart.

"Tony has a passion for the mechanical industry and this flows through to all the people that he comes into contact with, especially the younger members of his team; he is a great mentor to them, showing them the technical detail that he has gleaned over decades of experience in the industry," Gorham says.

"All of this has led to a cohesiveness in his team that would eclipse most other organisations."

What about Wright’s advice for those looking to enter the mechanical trade, unsure of whether to go with heavy vehicles or light vehicles?

"There’s way more opportunities in the heavy industry than there is in light vehicles!" he emphasises.

"Going into the heavy side, you can try out the mining thing, there’s just so much opportunity!"

As part of the Craig Roseneder Award, Wright sets off this year to the US Technical and Maintenance Council’s annual meeting in Atlanta, where he plans on bringing back as much technical heavy vehicle knowledge as possible.

"I want to learn as much as I can because I’ve never seen how the really big companies do things.

"I’m going to go and listen and take in as much as I can, but if there’s something I can pass on, happy days!"


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