General manager Jacqui Morrison-White, first year apprentice technician Beau Neilsen and HR manager Alison Norton.
General manager Jacqui Morrison-White, first year apprentice technician Beau Neilsen and HR manager Alison Norton.

Automotive dealerships driving force for employment

RECENT figures from the Australian Automotive Dealer Association (AADA) revealed new car dealerships makes up to $604.71 million of the Hinkler electorate's turnover, contributing $133.66 million to the local economy.

However, Bundaberg Motor Group's (BMG) general manager, Jacqui Morrison-White described the industry's situation as challenging.

"It's no secret that the economy is slowing and Bundaberg is not an exception - this is happening all over Queensland and Australia," she said.

"Vehicle sales continue to be impacted by falling house approvals and prices, and while there has been recovery in some areas, consumer confidence is still low".

Ms Morrison-White said that in the aftermath of the Banking Royal Commission, lenders are nervous and less willing to approve loans.

"This tightening of the consumer credit market is resulting in increased difficulty in consumers obtaining credit," she said.

"It's not just happening in the automotive industry but in housing too - most people don't know but we offer competitive finance options, so rather than going through the banks, they can use our financial services, as we specialise in vehicle finance with multiple lenders."

AADA's figures showed that dealerships employ 608 staff members, 49 of which are apprentices, something that Ms Morrison-White said BMG are passionate about.

The general manager said it was important that the motor vehicle industry had skilled and motivated employees.

"We offer a lot of back to work programs for people who have been unemployed long-term and we bring them in for 12 weeks, train them in all different areas and then we can offer them a full-time position if their culture suits the business," Ms Morrison-White said.

"We hire a lot of apprentices too that end up staying with us long-term and our goal is to continue employing apprentices each year.

"Ultimately, you want a really skilled workforce so that they can assist customers with any and all car issues, so we provide ongoing training."

Ms Morrison-White said the employment program was about more than just teaching technicians to 'swing a spanner' and BMG is also focused on employee culture that mirrors the business vision of 'customers first'.

In addition to making a significant contribution to Bundaberg's workforce, BMG are also committed to giving back to the community.

BMG is a proud sponsor of Bargara soccer and Brother's netball, work closely with IMPACT and supplied the vehicle for the major prize at the Bundaberg show recently.

Ms Morrison-White said this donation encouraged attendance at the event, which helped to generate income for small businesses and vendors.

"Everyone does it tough in regional areas, so if we can help to be part of the solution, we will," BMG's general manager said.

"We'll also do everything we can to keep it local and we're willing to negotiate on customer quotes from Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast - obviously we don't have a buying power like a lot of those big city businesses but we will try."

Ms Morrison-White said the company also chooses to give their business to local suppliers only, to source materials like bullbars.

AADA's full list of figures for the Hinkler electorate, can be found at https://bit.ly/2k2qiWp



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