Power Equipment Australasia

“I grew up in this business; it was a part of the family for as long as I can remember, putting machines together from a very young age. I used to put the Echo brush cutters together for Dad for $0.50 on a Saturday morning,” shares Dean. “After 20 years of the automotive trade, I had enough of repairing cars and moved back to the family business and repaired small engines and garden equipment.” ALL ABOUT TEAMWORK With an extensive range of new OPE products being launched every season, choosing new equipment has never been more exciting for customers. At Albury Engineering & Mower Service, there’s a team of friendly, highly trained staff to help customers select the right tool or accessory. “We have a small but great team here,” informs Dean as he goes on to add, “As director of the dealership, I mainly work in the back, in the workshop with the boys these days, sometimes heading up the front to help a customer or look up a part.” His mother, Golda, who started the business with her husband, is still an integral part of the dealership. “She sells spare parts and makes sure everything is always looking its best!” says Dean whose wife Kylie works in the office and helps with accounts. “My son, Jaxom helps with the repair the jobs that come in and helps build new machines. Michael is our spare parts manager – he has extensive experience from when he was a teenager working with Dad after he finished school. Nicola is our accounts manager, who also looks up spare parts and helps with sales occasionally. Aaron is at the back of the store as well and last year he completed his traineeship as a small motor technician. He is our main ride-on mechanic,” says Dean. OVERCOMING CHALLENGES In the dynamic landscape of business, overcoming challenges is an inherent part of the journey towards success. Whether it’s navigating shifts in industry trends, adapting to economic uncertainties, or addressing staffing issues, businesses face a myriad of obstacles that demand resilience, strategic thinking, and innovation. We asked Dean on his initial challenges and how he overcame them. He says, it was “learning how to operate and run a successful business, even just the day-to-day running.” “I completed a course from Business Enterprise Centre Wodonga which really helped me to steer the business into a good direction,” he answers. These days the most challenging aspect of the OPE industry is staffing. “I think everyone is short staffed and we are no different. Finding people that are interested in studying our trade (small motors) is very difficult. The TAFE facilities around us started to really restrict the course that our technicians need to study, which also creates another barrier for us when we do find someone,” says Dean. SECRET TO SUCCESS Success in any business is an ongoing process that involves continuous learning, adaptation, and a commitment to delivering value to customers and stakeholders. Being honest and upfront with your customers and creating a great relationship with them, shares Dean has been an integral to the success of their business. “Stocking only the best and most reliable brands and working with those brands to stock some of the best handheld and small motor lawn and garden products on the market is important. So is selling something that suits customer requirements and not selling them a product just because you have it in stock,” he says. Having satisfied customers is crucial for the success and longevity of any business. At Albury Engineering & Mower Service, the key elements for customer satisfaction have been the quality equipment on offer along with availability of spare parts and service backup. “We offer customers knowledge about the products and how to utilise them to the best of their ability,” says Dean. IMPACT OF THE PANDEMIC “Our business was lucky enough to take off during COVID-19 because everyone was at home all the time…wanting to maintain their gardens like never before,” informs Dean. “It was not only that. Customers wanted to purchase spare parts and repair their old faithful machines that they hadn’t touched in quite a few years!” However, like most dealerships across the county, they faced huge freight delays. “The delays affected not only spare parts to complete repairs but delay in getting new machines into the country that had been ordered for customers. We are still struggling with delays now,” says Dean. LOOKING AHEAD The future of the OPE business is poised for significant transformation, with a notable shift towards sustainable and eco-friendly solutions. The industry is witnessing a transition from traditional petrol-powered equipment to battery-powered alternatives, driven by environmental concerns and technological advancements. Businesses, like Albury Engineering & Mower Service, are adapting to this change and foresee a growing demand for efficient, quiet, and lightweight battery-powered machines. “Migrating from petrol-powered machines to battery-powered is a big change that has already started. We have a couple of our contractors that have already changed their machines over to battery and they are loving it,” says Dean. When it comes to new products, Dean says they are starting to see an increased range of battery-powered products come through from their suppliers. “Not only are they good in quality but they are powerful, lightweight, quiet in operation and offer good run times,” says Dean. “Whether it’s for the small, domestic home gardener or a commercial-grade business, a lot of our suppliers are bringing our battery machines to suit different needs and everything in-between,” he sums up. MARCH - APRIL 2024 | POWER EQUIPMENT AUSTRALASIA | 23