The bus service centre currently supports the 182 Volvo city buses on Perth’s roads today. With Volvo’s view of expanding business to the private sector and WA’s fast population growth pushing well over 2 million residents in less than fifteen years, business certainly won’t be slow for the newly opened service centre.
“WA has a very dynamic environment with a rapidly growing population. This is demonstrated by the way the government is accelerating bus growth over the next years,” says Phil Winkless, dealer principal of Truck Centre Western Australia (TCWA).
“The contract between Volvo buses and PTA gave us the opportunity to separate buses from trucks and establish a definitive bus department to focus solely on Volvo Bus aftersales support.
“This is the first bus specific service centre in WA, which is a big advantage to bus operators. Other manufacturers have a combined workshop with trucks, which means that bus operators may end up having a truck mechanic working on their bus, although buses and trucks differ greatly as products.”
The new Welshpool facility houses four bus-specific mechanics that deal solely with bus operators with a new apprentice starting in July. Among those four is James Garrett, nicknamed “Mr Bus Perth”, who is the go-to-person for all bus related service issues.
“It is important to have a bus specific service centre because technicians develop from experience. If they have good product knowledge and have worked on buses before, they can diagnose and fix the issue a lot quicker.
“We don’t want operators to have their buses sitting on the side of the road instead we want them back on the road as soon as possible. Our mechanics are in constant contact with the Volvo Bus service team, which keeps them up to date with diagnostics and strengthens our relationship with Volvo.”
Thanks to his father Max Winkless, Phil has “lived and breathed Volvo” since he was ten years old. Described as the “the father” of Volvo in Australia, Max was the first to import Volvo products, first cars then trucks, to the country back in the 1960s.
Although Phil first ventured out of the family business, he kept close ties to the company and decided to return to its helm 22 years ago. He worked in virtually all aspects of business, including sales and service, before becoming the head of the company five years ago.
“Our philosophy has always been to be a service oriented business that focuses on our customer needs. In order to do that properly, we need to make sure that bus people are dealing with bus people. So that customers like PTA and other contractors are getting the level of service that maximises their uptime.
“High attention and reaction to customer needs is a philosophy that we share with Volvo. In aftersales, Volvo is persistent in coming up with a solution that works. This, coupled with the high quality of products and technical innovation, are what sets them apart.
”To maintain our high service level and counteract challenges we face with WA’s changing environment, we need to grow along with the population. We are proactive in planning to ensure we have the resources available to support the growing number of buses on the road and the ability to provide quality service to the bus operators of WA."