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The automotive industry community came together on November 19 to celebrate another rewarding year as the MTA Queensland held its annual President’s Ball at the Hilton Brisbane hotel.
More than 200 guests attended the event, including many MTA Queensland members, industry stakeholders, representatives from both sides of the political aisle – including Mark Bailey, the Minister for Main Roads, Road Safety and Ports and Minister for Energy, Biofuels and Water Supply; and Michael Hart, Shadow Minister for Energy, Biofuels and Water Supply – as well as representatives of other state and territory MTAs.
The evening was hosted by Shane Jacobson, award-winning actor and entertainer who is, perhaps, best known for his role as the character of Kenny in the film of the same name. Something of a car fanatic himself – he was host on the Australian version of Top Gear – Jacobson was a fantastic MC, keeping the guests entertained with a constant stream of comedy gold as he guided the evening through introductions, award announcements and auction presentations.
Speakers on the night included Paul El Deir from prize sponsor OurAuto, Peter McAnulty from Suncorp Group who sponsored the Innovation Award, and Dale Durden from the Capricorn Society who sponsored the Community Award. Leanne Turner, CEO of long-standing supporter MTAA Super also spoke prior to making the evening’s major announcement of the winner of the Apprentice of the Year award.
Roland Dane, the boss of Triple Eight Race Engineering was scheduled to be guest speaker but, unfortunately, was taken ill in the days leading up the Ball. The team’s manager, Mark Dutton, stood in for Mr Dane and was a gracious and informed substitute.
Dr Brett Dale, CEO of MTA Queensland, followed Chairman David Fraser’s opening address and spoke about the evening being not only a celebration of the work and achievement of members, but also a reflection on the future of our ever-evolving industry.
“Many will know that the level of disruption to business through technological advances and consumer demand are greater than ever before,” said Dr Dale. “In fact, no business today resembles what it was yesterday. Ladies and gentlemen what an exciting time to be in an industry that is facing an innovation revolution . . . it is opportunity at its best!
“We know the disrupters are here or are well on their way. These include driverless technology, artificial intelligence, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, zero emissions through fuel cell technology, pre-collision technology . . . the list goes on.
“How do we as an industry prepare for this level of disruption? We need to lead innovation and shape and create our business’s future. My challenge to us all is to posture business to lead and wait for no one. Ladies and gentlemen, ‘Carmageddon’ is on its way. What does it mean and how can we help prepare industry to seize these opportunities? Amongst us tonight are some great industry champions who will, no doubt, be at the wheel of the ship.”
As well as acknowledging the tremendous work of MTA Queensland members and recognising the future direction of the industry, the President’s Ball is an event at which the quality of students training with MTA Institute is recognised and honoured with the announcement of the Apprentice of the Year award.
This year, there were eight outstanding nominees and the award, and the prizes of $2000 and the opportunity to work with Triple Eight Race Engineering, was won by Jamahl Byrne, a 20-year-old mechanic from Hansen Ford and Mareeba Toyota in Mareeba near Cairns.
An outstanding choice for Apprentice of the Year, Jamahl qualified in December 2015 but has continued to pursue training opportunities through his employer and is already well on his way to becoming a technical advisor and master technician with Toyota and Ford.
“This year’s nominees were of the highest calibre and it was a very hard decision to name only one of them as Apprentice of the Year. They will all be outstanding ambassadors for our industry in the future” said Paul Kulpa, General Manager of MTA Institute. “However, Jamahl was an extremely strong candidate. He knows, as he said in his acceptance speech, that gaining his trade is only the beginning and working in our industry involves continual learning. I believe strongly that not only is he a very worthy apprentice of the year but that he will also become an industry figure of some significance.”
“As our industry’s peak body, the MTA Queensland has the responsibility to acknowledge our future leaders,” added Dr Dale. “An apprentice who is looked after from the beginning and who is acknowledged for their achievements is going to be all the better for it. The nominees this year were outstanding and a lot of the credit must go to their employer who is supervising them, the trainer who trains them and, of course, the individual themselves.”
Other awards presented on the night included the MTAQ Community Award, celebrating the involvement of MTAQ member businesses in their communities, and the MTA Queensland Innovation Award that recognises the creative thinking of members in developing their businesses through new technologies and practices.
The 2016 Innovation Award was won by ASR Collision Specialists from Cairns. ASR have committed not only to investing in cutting-edge equipment to ensure premium service delivery but also in the development of staff to ensure they are leaders in their field. The use of new technology, of staff incentive programs, of streamlining workflow systems to increase production and of effective environmental waste management as well as focussing on quality control and prioritising customer service has paid off handsomely - the business has increased production by up to 40 per cent without the need for additional personnel.
The 2016 Community Award was presented to RHD Classic Supplies & Services from Brisbane. In the business of servicing and repairing motorcycles for almost 17 years, RHD won the award for their commitment to people and nurturing learning and skill development for those with physical or mental health problems.
RHD has supported many individuals with various disabilities and has undergone specialised training to ensure they can best support people with a range of disorders, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They regularly host groups from organisations such as Mates4Mates, emergency services, veterans, defence, youth organisations and many others, aiding with all aspects of being in a work environment.
Raising money for charity was also a major part of the evening’s festivities and several thousand dollars was raised for Youngcare – the charity that assists young people with full-time care needs – through the auctioning of some pretty special items.
Amongst them was a 2016 Queensland Maroons jersey signed by coach Kevin Walters and a Queensland Maroons Ball signed by the entire team. Both items were donated
by Suncorp. Triple Eight Race Engineering donated a rear panel from the Triple Eight Holden Commodore driven by Craig Lowndes at this year’s Bathurst race. Signed by Lowndes himself, the panel was snatched up for an excellent $2000.
Also on offer, and kindly donated by the Australian Automotive Dealer Association, were three travel items: a mystery flight package for two, a yachting and exploring Moreton Bay adventure, and a Q1 Resort and Spa Escape on the Gold Coast.
Spurred on by some truly inspired, and very funny, hosting by Shane Jacobson, the auction raised more than $7000 – a great result.
The 2016 MTA Queensland President’s Ball was a magnificent night and the Association thanks our guests, friends and sponsors for making the evening so memorable. We look forward to doing it all again in 2017.
Awarded to ASR Collision Specialists in Cairns. ASR have committed not only to investing in cutting-edge equipment to ensure premium service delivery but also in staff development to ensure they are leaders in their field. The use of new technology, staff incentive programs, of streamlining workflow systems to increase production and of effective environmental waste management, as well as focusing on quality control and prioritising customer service has paid off handsomely for the business with production increasing up to 40 per cent without the need for additional personnel.
Awarded to RHD Classic Supplies & Services from Brisbane for their commitment to people and nurturing learning and skills development for those with physical or mental health problems, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. RHD has supported many individuals with various disabilities and has undergone specialised training to ensure they can best support people with a range of disorders. They regularly host groups from organisations such as Mates4Mates, emergency services, veterans, defence, youth organisations and many others, aiding with all aspects of being in a work environment.
AMAHL BYRNE: MTAQ APPRENTICE OF THE YEAR
Jamahl Byrne, a 20-year-old tradesman with Hansen Ford and Mareeba Toyota in Mareeba, near Cairns, is the MTAQ Apprentice of the Year for 2016. Presented with the award at the MTAQ President’s Ball it was, said Jamahl, a nerve-wracking experience as his name was called as this year’s winner.
“I was trying to contain my heartbeat to be honest,” he said. “It went from stable to a million miles an hour.”
Among those who travelled from North Queensland to attend the Ball with Jamahl were his parents Elsy and David and it comes as no surprise to hear they were ecstatic with his win.
“I think my dad nearly shed a tear and he and mum informed the whole family straight away,” said Jamahl. “She had a couple of shots of me receiving the award on her Facebook page before I even got back to our table. And that post went from 0 to 100 comments pretty quickly!”
It has been a fantastic year for Jamahl. He completed his light vehicle apprenticeship in December 2015 and an ongoing commitment to training with Toyota and Ford means he is well on his way to reaching master technician status for both companies.
Though it was Jamahl who did the hard training yards to reach this point, he is quick to highlight his father’s influence. The duo spent a lot of time together over the years restoring classic cars and when his dad realised Jamahl had ambitions for a career in the auto industry, he worked hard to help his son reach that goal.
“Dad put his heart and soul into encouraging me and helping me to become a mechanic,” said Jamahl. “He taught me about older vehicles and really pushed to help me get this job and get me into the industry. A lot of what has happened is down to him and for me to receive this award really means a lot to him.”
Of course, it wasn’t just Jamahl’s father who was proud of his achievement. Family and friends flooded Jamahl with calls of congratulations and when he returned to work the Monday after the Ball, colleagues were quick to add their congratulations too - in a typically workshop-style, tongue-in-cheek fashion.
“They took the mickey out of me for most of the morning,” joked Jamahl. “I got called all sorts of names and when I suggested something about a job, or when someone suggested something to me, they would do a slight bow when they walked away!”
Joking aside, it is, of course, the environment in which an apprentice works that helps form them, and their employers and colleagues play a vital role in their development. For Jamahl’s colleagues at Hansen Ford and Mareeba Toyota then, there is real pride in his achievement.
“We are extremely proud of him,” said Luke Micklewright, the company’s service manager. “As an apprentice, Jamahl worked very hard and was always looking to do extra work. The minute he qualified he was busting to get online and do more training with Toyota and Ford. In fact, in this past year, he has worked so hard that he has overtaken everyone else in the workshop as far as the Toyota training side of the business goes.”
It is, said Luke, Jamahl’s passion for the industry and personal drive that made him a stand-out apprentice and now a highly-valued tradesman.
“He is genuinely interested in cars, and genuinely interested in furthering his career,” he said. “Now that he is qualified, I know he will go as far as he can with Toyota and Ford and we will have to work to keep him interested and challenged. But that is a great problem for us to have. There are many kids who think things should just be handed to them but Jamahl is not like that – he knows that rewards come when you put in the hard yards.”
Jamahl is now tasting a few of those rewards - the MTAQ Apprentice of the Year award comes with some very desirable benefits including a $2000 prize and, this year, the opportunity to work with Triple Eight Race Engineering at next year’s Townsville V8 Supercar event.
While Jamahl said the money would help fund a trip to Japan next year, to work with Triple Eight was a truly exciting opportunity.
“That is the pinnacle,” he said “I’ve always been a racing nut. Dad and I have been watching V8 Supercars since I was knee high to a grasshopper and it would be a tremendous achievement if I was to ever get into the racing industry and work at such a high level. The week with Triple Eight could, potentially, mean a start in that industry so I will do everything I can to show them what I am made of.”
Whatever happens, it is clear Jamahl is set to enjoy a long and successful career in the automotive industry – a fact that Luke Micklewright recognised early on.
“Jamahl aspires to more than working on the shop floor,” he said. “He knows that in years to come he will move into a leadership role and he will be a great ambassador for the industry.”