Rodney O’Gorman, owner of long time VACC member-business Kingsbury Auto Electrical, has called time on his automotive career – a journey spanning decades. He took a break from clearing up the workshop to reflect on his experiences and provide some sound advice for auto newcomers.
Rod, a third-year apprentice at the time, and his father Colin started the auto electrical business in 1978 and joined VACC a year later. By 1982, he had saved enough to buy the business outright from Colin and decided to join the Bosch authorised network of auto electrical repairers. Up until recently, Rod’s business was recognised as the longest Bosch service centre in Australia, not to mention the recipient of many awards along the way.
Rod eventually branched out into other services, including the Victorian interlock program and, at one stage, was the second largest provider in Australia. In more recent times, Rod started repairing Bosch power tools. This move was in response to a lack of parts, access to repair information and what he describes as 'the throwaway society' that automotive had become. To demonstrate his point, Rod nodded to a pile of near new alternators and starter motors. In the past, people could order parts to repair these components but now they are just a replaceable item.
The last ten years have been particularly challenging. Manufacturer control over repair data played a big role, with technicians – like Rod – restricted when trying to undertake a repair and see it through to the end. Frequently, a vehicle had to be sent on to an authorised dealer for reinitialisation or a software update. On the other hand, as a Bosch power tool service agent, Rod has access to all the parts and repair information necessary to restore them back to their original state. Put simply, he says the role of the technician is to fix things. There is nothing more satisfying than that.
Rod’s contribution to the broader automotive industry and VACC has been invaluable over the years. He has advocated for right to repair reforms, as well as training and industry standards, throughout his 24 years on the VACC Automotive Electrical Division Executive Committee. He also sat for 10 years on the Bosch-equivalent body. Rod's advice for anyone starting a new business in automotive is to surround themselves with a good support network. If possible, join a well-known repairer network and belong to an industry association that can provide practical support when it comes to employment, technical and regulatory obligations.
VACC wishes Rod all the best in retirement and thanks him for his long association with the Chamber.
Words: John Khoury. As featured in Australian Automotive October 2021.