Forty-four years is a long time, especially for a business. The upturns and troughs in the economy, the changes and advancements in technologies, the lessons learned, and adaptation required over a chunk of time this long – this is huge! However, for founder of Sydney Trucks & Machinery (STM), Michael Gerace, it’s been a road well-travelled with family and their values that have helped STM deliver a consistently impressive high-level customer service and distribution partnerships with world-leading brands that have built success over decades.
After leaving school and completing his apprenticeship, Michael started as a diesel mechanic in the original business, Glenn Motors. He was immersed in the truck and agricultural world because the company was then a dealer for International Harvester, so when an opportunity came to move across to looking after the spare parts division, Michael grabbed it with two hands. In 1970 a partnership opportunity was on the table so Michael had a good chat with his dad who agreed to loan him the money to purchase his share… and the rest is history. Since the early 1990s the business has been solely family owned and has gone from strength to strength.
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing – 44 years is a long time involving numerous downturns and recessions that have brought down many successful businesses. Staying true to the South West Sydney/Macarthur region and STM’s client base of customers across Sydney was vital. “Enduring the peaks and troughs over the years has been the toughest part of the journey. Not growing too fast and scaling back in certain areas when needed has been required at times. But having great products and strong partnerships as a dealer has been the backbone of the business,” said Michael.
“Growing from a dealer with only a small number of brands to now in 2020 having a good number of truck and construction equipment brands like FUSO, Iveco, International Trucks, Kobelco, ASV, Merlo and all major attachment brands – we really are a one-stop shop for truck and construction equipment,” Michael shared, with a humble, fatherly-like energy, which after building the business for 44 years, it would probably feel more like a family member than a company.
Being the Principle Dealer, Michael learned a long time ago that the key to growth and long-term success is in building a strong team around him, and what better team could be made than his own family. The family is dedicated to the same standards that Michael has created within the business.
The management team consists of Mark Morris, Sales Manager Machinery; Roy Papallo, Director, Sales & Marketing; Sam Bruin, Service Manager; and Stephen Galea, Parts Manager.
I chatted to Michael about the range of services and products. He shared, “Over the years we have kept a well-trained eye on the industry and opportunities that presented. Our knowledge of the industry and talking to our customers about their needs and requirements is what has shaped us over the years, and allowed us to grow to where we are today in our third location in a purpose-built 8-acre facility at Smeaton Grange. We have in-house finance brokerage, 32 workshop bays, drive through B-double service pits, weighbridge, RMS Inspection certified, 6 x field service vehicles, 2 x 24-hour truck breakdown vehicles, and 4 x Sydney metro parts delivery vehicles. Our smash repair workshop for trucks and machinery brings our number of employees in the group to 114.”
There is no doubt that when talking to not just Michael, but also Roy and Mark, the significant level of support and backing of their products with exceptional after-sales support and continued investment in facilities is what has helped separate STM from its competition. Being a family business, which stems from strong family values and a personalised approach to its customers, this recipe has been well received over the years. I asked Michael about the earthmoving industry in Australia and how STM fit into it. Michael answered with enthusiasm, “It’s a very competitive market, especially in Sydney. Every interaction we have with our customers must be an enjoyable and positive experience. Building customer loyalty is key and making sure we are servicing our customers and addressing any issues in a timely manner is something we pride ourselves on. We don’t see our customers as just another number, they are a partner in business whether they’re buying a 1 tonne or 50 tonne excavator, which is something that is much harder to achieve in larger multi-national businesses when it comes to that personal touch.
“The impact of COVID-19 has certainly presented some challenges in 2020 and will be changing the way business is conducted far into the future. Despite this, the Federal Government’s stimulus package seems to have invigorated many businesses in the industry along with the expedited projects from major infrastructure works to local council Development Applications.”
It’s clear the team at STM has its sights set on working to become the market leader in each of its product/brands. I was interested to find out what role Michael saw technology playing in that goal. Michael shared, “The technological advancements that are coming out across our product range are proving far more fuel-efficient, operator friendly and reliable, with an abundance of information and diagnostic data that can assist our customer in better managing their business and employees. a long way in the past three to four years.
Being a family business supplying class-leading products, which operate out of a quality facility with a dedicated team who has a strong focus on service and support, we have a unique perspective. From humble beginnings, the business now stands strong. We believe in doing what we say we will do, every time.”
There is no doubt the team at STM are all working with the same passion and drive to exceed their customers’ expectations at every opportunity. With the strength of product and services on offer I hope I’m still around to write another glowing Industry Leader piece in another 44 years; as time seems to be a friend of Sydney Trucks & Machinery.