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Volvo dealer buoyant about WA economy

Major truck dealer Phil Winkless says there’s still plenty of life in WA economy despite end of mining boom


Phil Winkless describes the truck sales and service game as “fantastic”.

“You really do make great friends in the industry,” Winkless says.

“You sell someone a truck and they become a part of your business for the next five years at least, because that is usually how long they’ve got it, and you see them around the place.”

Winkless is dealer principal for Truck Centre WA, the big Volvo Group dealership in the West, with facilities at: Guildford, Kewdale and Spearwood in Perth; Albany; Bunbury; Geraldton; and Port Hedland.

ATN remarked to Winkless that the family dealership must have made a motza during the WA mining boom, but he says the boom was a “double-edged sword”.

“It was excellent business but the other side of the coin is the costs,” Winkless says.

“Your revenues are high but your costs are high as well.

“Some of the mechanics up in the north-west we have been paying $150,000 to $180,000 a year. Accommodation up there is anything from $2,000 to $3,800 a week.”

Winkless describes the current situation as having gone from “absolutely boom time” back to a normal level of business.

“The sentiment in the town [Perth] is very negative…But the actual business conditions aren’t that bad,” he says.

“I think coming back to normal has been a hell of a shock for a lot of people, and it’s been hard readjusting our business as well.

“We’ve gone from a peak of about 270 people to about 250 people. So you have to adjust the business to suit the revenue that’s out there, and that’s not easy.

“But the future looks good for our business. It will become like any other business in Australia.”

Winkless says the WA economy still has strong drivers: agriculture, fishing, tourism and mining.

“I think tourism is going to start taking off again…mining is still very strong,” he says.

“What’s stopped is the mine construction; building the mines. But our export market went up 5 per cent last year, so the exports are still strong.

“Of course the prices of iron and that have come down, but they’re still shipping out a lot of iron ore and stuff like that and they need trucks. So it’s still a good business.”

Then of course there is Western Australia’s “very limited” rail freight, and rail freight for wheat is “winding up, and that’s going all over to trucks.”

You can read the full story on the Winkless family in the November issue of ATN.


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