In case you missed it in our Jan/Feb issue we've been publishing our interviews with the major MSOs. This week is AMA Group - not the most up to date info now but still an interesting read.

AMA Group

Sites: 138 collision 7 supply sites

Employees: 3,384

Type of work: All types

Established: 2006

Apprentices: 449

Funding: ASX listed

Sites in: ACT, QLD, NSW, WA, TAS, SA, NZ

Newly appointed CEO Mat Cooper gives a candid account of 2023 which finished well for the Group.

“We’ve had a huge profit turnaround when you look year on year. It’s still not where we want to be, but a huge turnaround nonetheless, which is just testament to all the effort that’s gone in over the year. It’s been a challenging year, but our people have been with us all the way and they’ve been really resilient to the challenges of the last 12 months.”

If you are the biggest player in the market, you are going to feel the most pain when it comes to the skills shortage. A volume-based business needs lots of pairs of hands in order to make a profit and the group has made good progress in recruitment in recent times through local hires, international recruits and apprentices. 

“We still need more; we’re still actively recruiting but as you grow you create new vacancies as well. People often ask me about the number of vacancies and that’s one measure, but I look at the number of people we’ve got and if that number’s increasing every month then we’re moving in the right direction. We want to open our hibernated sites and we also want to start then growing further. Things like adding more booths to some sites to increase throughput, taking out some of the bottlenecks that we have in our heavy business, for example. 

"We’ve got a very big international program going. There are more than 100 people from the Philippines who have accepted offers recently and they’ll be arriving over the next couple of months,” Cooper said. 

The apprentice program is going gangbusters. AMA Group had 370 at the end of financial year, now there’s 449 with a new target to have around 500 in the business going forward.

When it comes to ensuring profitability, this is looked at on a site-by-site basis. “A lot of our sites have individual contracts, but it won’t necessarily be the commercials that are the problem in terms of profitability. We have some sites that need more technicians, others where we can still make improvements around how they make decisions around estimating and purchasing, repair versus replace and so forth. These factors ultimately drive the bottom-line performance. 

“You’ve got to have a full crew to generate profitability and many of our sites are quite large. The key, deeply experienced technicians are critical to that as well, which is why we spend so much time making sure that they are well remunerated for what they do and we’ve got a range of other benefits that seek to make AMA Group an environment that they want to continue to work within.”

The focus of AMA Group’s Take the LEAD safety program will continue in 2024 with a safety focused culture really taking root. The team will continue to go very hard in the recruitment space both domestically and abroad. 

“We are very much planning to continue to invest in our people and we’re in our second year of our Frontline Leaders Program which we’ve extended to more job roles than the previous year. We’re also heavily investing in our technicians. We now have 12 sites that are I-CAR Gold. Twelve months ago we had one. We also introduced a Power to Platinum program which means that every technician who is platinum in I-CAR, gets $500 each year and a hat to signify the number of years that they’ve been platinum for, so it’s represented in the workplace.”

There are over 165 platinum technicians in the business. 

Cooper takes most pride in the team that have stuck by AMA Group through turbulent times. “I had to on a number of occasions stand in front of a lot of our leaders and explain where we were and why. The fact that many of them stuck with us and showed great resilience in the face of much negative industry sentiment showed what AMA Group is actually all about. They are people who are dedicated to achieving really strong results and they’re really passionate about AMA Group as an organisation and what it’s become over a number of years.”

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