Mike Wilkinson of Peter Wilkinson & Co in Welshpool WA is this week's honoured guest on Turbo Talk.
How did you get started in the industry?
My Mum and Dad started the business in 1959 so it was inevitable that I was going to be involved in some way. School holidays and weekends were at the workshop helping to clean up or assist the tradesmen. I finished schooling and started an apprenticeship in 1977.
What do you do now?
I own and manage (to a lessor degree now) the business and have done since 1989. We spend a fair bit of time at a holiday home we have down a little south of Perth. Golf, fishing and the beach are a big part of how we spend our time now. We also enjoy travelling around the country in our motor home. Something we intend spending a lot more time doing.
What do you most like about the industry?
I like nothing more than receiving someone’s near new motor vehicle, all smashed up. Repairing it and returning it to its former glory and watching the look on peoples faces when they receive their pride and joy in its pre-accident condition. They are genuinely amazed at how it can be done. It’s like magic….. Generally, they have no real understanding of what we do and how we do it and are often blown away by the product we can produce.
What do you most dislike about the industry?
The hardest thing to contend with in our industry is the distrust the insurance industry has for us. I understand that there are people in all walks of life that are perhaps dishonest or make very little effort to do the right thing and our industry is no different, but the insurers know who those people are. They have history, and yet they treat us all the same. The good operators get punished for what the poor operators do. Therefore, we have this relationship that breeds dissention and an unacceptable level of control by the insurers. They actually get in the way of us being as productive and efficient as we could be. I have never understood it and I never will. Its not the people on the ground necessarily, however the KPIs they have to achieve are all about reductions and savings rather than quality and service.
Who do you most admire in the industry?
The people I admire the most are those who continue to strive to give quality, despite the downward pressures being created by the insurance industry. They continue to exceed expectations, they continue to produce high quality repairs and continue to give higher levels of service than you receive from most other areas of life. They employ apprentices, they invest in equipment, they work hard for the industry’s future. They are involved in the MTA’s, in focus groups and are constantly looking for ways to improve not only their own businesses but the industry as a whole. Never afraid to speak up when needed.
Cars! tell us - first car, current car, dream car?
My first vehicle was a Mark II Cortina that I built from a write off. I did happen to roll it over and have to build it again, but I had a lot of fun in that car. I currently drive a Ford Raptor ute and I have always wanted to own a 1956 Corvette. Just to have one of those iconic machines would be awesome.