Smoko with Lozo

I first met this guy a few years ago on a business trip to Melbourne. Anyone that knows him will understand when I say you know he’s in the room before you even see him. He comes in with a big box of Lebanese sweets and coffees just to say good morning. 100 miles an hour and always goes out of his way to make you feel at home, he’s just that kind of guy. He calls it The Huss-pitality!
Besides that he has a true passion for the trade and it shows. Hard work and dedication has seen him succeed where most wouldn’t even try.

How did you start out in the smash game?
“Well I need to thank my Dad for that, at twelve I was thrown into a shop in Collingwood and that’s where it all began. The usual story where I worked my *&^% off to actually get an apprenticeship. In those days you had to fight for the boss to even give you a job but I guess I was OK because I ended up getting full time work and now I’ve got dual trades in panel and paint.

Your Dad got you into it? Is he a tradie?
“He sure is, he was in business back in Lebanon and migrated to Melbourne and just kicked off doing the same to keep us going. I had a love for cars just like him so it was kind of in the blood and he’s still going too.
Hus yells out into the shop in Arabic to a guy named Sal and he yells something back “See I told you, 70 years old and still on the shop floor. I owe it all to him for getting me into it.”
What’s going on right now?
“Well I just opened another store in Wallan, it’s about 50kms out of Melbourne.” He calls it ‘the country’ and we have a little laugh about him being the Arab cowboy of Melbourne smash repairs. “It’s what I do, I love people and I enjoy the slightly more personal approach where I get to talk to people and make sure we are doing it right by the client not just pumping out big numbers, that’s not me.”

You’ve got a few shops?
“I’m up to four, I started in Coburg in 2003 with my first Carllision store and it took me twelve hard years to get it right before I opened shop number two in Taralgon in 2015. My first attempt in business was when I was 21 and that didn’t go to well, so I wasn’t making the same mistakes twice. I didn’t give up though, I went again and worked as hard as I could to get shop one and two working, now this year I’ve opened shop three and four in Thomastown and Wallan. They’re all small shops doing good work with less than ten staff each. We just keep it simple and make sure we take the time to keep the customers happy.”

What’s next then?
“I love it all. The people, the trade and being in business. I just turned 41 and I want to keep going, I’ve got good people around me and a good brand, I just want to keep opening stores. I also need to thank my wife for putting up with the long hours and for her support. I’ve got a great family and love what I do every day so why stop?”
If you’re ever in Melbourne and want a to look him up, he’s a true example of what’s good in this trade. It’s Hus-pitality you won’t forget.

This article first appeared in Paint & Panel magazine September 2019

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