2018 Apprentice of the Year Nominees

We talk often about the great disruption that the automotive industry will undergo in the next few years. The industry as we have known it will change remarkably as new technology and new concepts become commonplace in the vehicles of the near future. For the next generation of automotive tradespeople, an exciting and challenging career, with opportunities aplenty, lies ahead of them.

And that next generation should be well prepared for the demands of their trade, for apprenticeship training is an exacting four-year calling that requires dedication, passion and plenty of hard yakka.

Throughout the year, MTA Queensland and the MTA Institute recognises the efforts of these apprentices via the Apprentice of the Month award, with the winners of that award going forward as nominees for the MTA Institute Apprentice of the Year Award, presented each year at the MTA Queensland Industry Dinner.

With more than 1500 students being trained by the Institute, it is certain that each of this year’s nominees is of outstandingly high calibre and choosing just one from this list of 12 to carry the Apprentice of the Year title through 2019 has been extraordinarily difficult – each of them have already proven to have the passion, drive and skills to succeed.

However, the interviews are now over and the judging completed, and the successful nominee will be announced, and presented with their award and special prizes, at the glittering awards dinner on November 10.

The Industry Dinner is the signature event for Queensland’s automotive industry. Hosted by actor, writer and comedian Shane Jacobson, and featuring special guest speaker, and renowned professional drifter and stunt driver, Jack Jones, the evening will be the perfect way to acknowledge and recognise a group of highly talented apprentices.
Congratulations to all the nominees. We’ll see you at the Ball!


Shandyn Kronk

Mackay Transit Coaches
Certificate III in Heavy Commercial Vehicle Mechanical Technology

Shandyn Kronk was the Apprentice of the Month for September 2017.

The 20-year-old, who works for Mackay Transit Coaches in Mackay, has recently completed his apprenticeships was presented with that award on the back of his impressive work ethic, exemplary skills and willingness to learn.

“He does everything well,” said Neville Donaldson, Shandyn’s MTA Institute trainer, at the time. “He’s popular in the workplace, puts in plenty of effort and goes above and beyond in his work.”
Shandyn’s career with Mackay Transit Coaches started with a two-week Work experience placement while at school. It was just the thing he was looking for because of the work the company does – they have 70 coaches and run school bus, urban bus and charter coach work.

“What attracted me was the range of different things you can work on and I thought the bigger machines were really cool and interesting,” said Shandyn. “I did some school-based work there and they ended up offering me a job. It has turned out well – it’s really a great place to work.”

Shandyn added that he enjoys a challenge. And there are plenty of those at Mackay Transit Coaches.

“We do everything from servicing to rebuilding engines, electrical work, pneumatics, bodywork, paint – Shandyn is certainly learning a great range of skills,” said his supervisor Michael Horder.
“And he is a great kid. He has bucketloads of confidence and common sense, and he pays attention, so you don’t have to worry about what he’s doing. He’s not afraid to have a go but will always clarify what needs doing if he does get into a spot where he is unsure. And that’s what you want – you want your apprentice to have a bit of courage and to have a go.

“He’s a great kid, a real credit to his parents and we’re very proud of him.”

Now that he is qualified Shandyn said he plans to continue to work with Mackay Transit and look to expand his knowledge even further by taking auto-electrical and air conditioning courses.

Click to visit the Mackay Transit Coaches Website


William Rudd

Sleeping Beauties
Certificate III in Automotive Body Repair Repair Technology

33-year-old Will Rudd has just a few months left before completing his Automotive Body Repair apprenticeship. However, the Apprentice of the Month for October 2017 is not new to the apprenticeship game – a stint in the construction industry a few years ago saw him qualify as a carpenter. It’s a skill he has been able to put to good use for some of the coachbuilding work he does as he learns his new trade at Sleeping Beauties, a classic car restoration business based in Brisbane.

A hard worker with a desire to get the job done right, Will has, said his MTA Institute trainer Alfio Rotolone, a terrific eye for detail and is doing a great job with the breadth of work required of him.

“The work they do at Sleeping Beauties is quite remarkable,” said Alfio. “They rebuild and restore old cars and Will has done everything from small dents to major modifications to help bring those cars back to their original condition.”

Always interested in cars, Will started a diesel mechanic apprenticeship at school but circumstances would conspire to see him move into construction and become a carpenter. However, that career was cut short too when his father became sick.

“My father was terminally ill and I became his full-time carer,” said Will. “I looked after him for a year-and-a-half until he passed away and I decided then that I wanted to go back and do what I always wanted, which was to work with cars.”

Taking it upon himself to knock on the door of just about every shop from the Gold Coast to Brisbane to get back into the auto industry, Will struck gold with Sleeping Beauties, where he works on stunning cars and works alongside some highly-skilled tradespeople.

“The day I started we were working on a 1913 Vulcan,” he said with a laugh. “Everything is done in house and there are some great tradesmen here I can learn from. We don’t do normal work here. It’s more of a craft – a dying art that I am lucky to be learning. I absolutely love it.”

Click to visit the Sleeping Beauties Website


Jack Goodrich

Twidale Auto & Motorcycles
Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology

Jack Goodrich was the Apprentice of the Month for November 2017.

The 27-year-old, who works at Twidale Auto & Motorcycles in Goondiwindi, has recently qualified and was a standout apprentice, impressing with his passion for the work and the trade.
“Jack loves the work and he is one of the smartest apprentices I have ever seen,” said Zak Zuiderduin, Jack’s MTA Institute trainer when Jack was presented with the Apprentice of the Month award. “With his bookwork, he is always two units ahead, and in the My Profile system he has records of all the jobs he has done back to 2015. The amount of exposure he has had to different jobs is phenomenal.

“He is very focused and really wants to learn and he asks questions that demand very detailed answers.”

Jack’s route to a career in the automotive industry has been unusual. He has an honours degree in biomedical science and worked for a year in a Brisbane laboratory, working in the field of stem cell research. From there to training to repair and maintain cars does seem like something of a leap.

“I had always wanted to do an apprenticeship but, like many people, I went to university because that’s what was expected to get a good job,” said Jack. “But I knew it wasn’t for me and when I finished my honours I went to work at a bicycle shop and intended to become a bike mechanic. However, my fiancé got a job as a paramedic in Goondiwindi, so we ended up moving out here.”

Although always interested in cars, it wasn’t until Jack had reached Goondiwindi that a career in automotive, with the apprenticeship at Twidale Auto, became and option. And there is plenty to do at Twidale, with the team working on a broad range of vehicles – from 4WDs, diesels, passenger cars, trucks and even a tractor or two.

Now qualified, Jack is looking at to expand his focus to include other areas of automotive, including electrical, and always challenge himself to improve.

“The plan is to keep working hard and keep getting better,” he said.

Click to visit the Twidale Auto Website


Joel Travers

Extreme Dents (QLD) PTY LTD
Certificate III in Automotive Body Repair Technology

Joel Travers was the Apprentice of the Month for December 2017.

The 21-year-old automotive refinishing technology apprentice, who works for Extreme Dents in Geebung, has done some sterling work and is well ahead in his training, expecting to complete his apprenticeship before the end of this year, some months ahead of schedule.

An enthusiastic apprentice, Joel’s success is a direct result of his conscientious approach to both training and work.

“Joel is well-mannered, interested, has a mature outlook and always has questions,” said Scott Gehrke, Joel’s MTA Institute trainer. “He wants to learn, wants to succeed and is proud of the work he is doing.”

Always interested in the automotive industry, Joel started his career by completing an automotive pre-apprenticeship course.

“I’ve always liked cars, and when I left school I did a Cert II course for mechanics,” he said. “However, I didn’t feel that area was for me. I never had it in mind to be a panel beater but I seem to be good at it and really enjoy it!”

Joel works with a strong team at the Extreme Dents Geebung shop, one of several that the company operates across Queensland and Victoria, and when he picked up the Apprentice of the Month award for December 2017, he had already reached a level of skill that saw him working on pretty much any job that came into the shop had even seen him sent to Melbourne to work in the Extreme Dents shops there.

Surprised to be named Apprentice of the Month and be in the running for Apprentice of the Year, Joel’s aim has been to get stuck into his career as quickly as possible.

“I’ve been working hard and trying to do well. It is very exciting,” he said. “My main goal is to finish my apprenticeship as early as possible and I am working hard to do that. And I’ll stick with Extreme Dents. I really appreciate the company, so I give them 100 per cent.

Click to visit the Extreme Dents Website


Tim Ward

Yatala Head Worx and Automotive Servicing
Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology

Tim Ward was name Apprentice of the Month for January 2018.

The 36-year-old light vehicle apprentice is no stranger to the automotive trade – he is already a qualified engine reconditioner and has worked in the industry with Repco. For the past 11 years he was worked at current employer Yatala Headworx and Automotive Service – a family business founded by his father and at which Tim’s two brothers also work.

Why then, after years of being in the industry, would a well-qualified and experienced tradesman take it upon himself to go through training again?

“We are a small family business and I thought it would a good thing to have another ticket under my belt,” said Tim. “I am pretty experienced at what I do, but it’s nice to have something on paper.”

While his experience means his understanding of the training requirements is very, and he is on course to finish the apprenticeship early, doing the training is, Tim said, a really
useful exercise.

“I do quite enjoy the training. Although there is a lot of stuff I have to go through again, there are always new things that you learn and pick up along the way.
“I’ve been around a long time so that does make it easier!”

Gaining the light vehicle ticket won’t be the last bit of training Tim does – he has his eyes set on further qualifications down the track. And that is not surprising, as Yatala Headworx offers a wide range of services, from general servicing to EFI diagnostics to dyno tuning and a fair bit in between, including installing ECUs and doing the wiring and tuning for circuit and drag racing cars.

“We are a one-stop shop, so getting that extra training is a good thing,” said Tim. “And once I have completed this course, I will look to do an auto-electric qualification too. That’s the way the industry is heading.”

Click to visit the Yatala Headworx Website


Reed Lennox

T.G. Spare & Repairs
Certificate III in Heavy Commercial Vehicle Mechanical Technology

At just 19 years of age, Reed Lennox, is already closing in on completing his Heavy Commercial Vehicle apprenticeship.

Expecting to finish in mid-2019, the MTA Institute Apprentice of the Month for February 2018, has been working at T&G Spares and Repairs in Ayr, north Queensland, since 2015.
A young man who enjoys everything about his job, Reed’s enthusiastic approach to training and work has, said Neville Donaldson, his MTA Institute trainer, made Reed an excellent student to train.

“He is very diligent about doing his book work, is always finished on time and puts in a lot of work,” said Neville. “He’s well-liked by all the other guys who he works with, and his boss Troy speaks very highly of him. He’s one of those guys who loves what he is doing and the enthusiasm and effort he puts into it is proof of that.”

Working in the automotive industry is something of a family tradition and at aged 16, Reed took the opportunity of an apprenticeship with T & G Spares and Repairs after completing some work experience while at school.

“My family has always been involved in the trade – my grandparents are mechanics – and it always interested me,” he said. “I left school in Grade 11 to start my apprenticeship after doing some work experience and I enjoy every part of the work. We have a lot of sugar cane up here, so we do a lot of work and maintenance on machinery like trucks and cane haulers and so on, and the training has been great.”

With just a few months to go before qualifying as a tradesman, Reed said he hadn’t thought too far ahead regarding where his career might lead, wanting to concentrate instead on finishing his training and getting some experience.

“There’s still a bit to learn and I enjoy what I am doing,” he said. “This is what I always wanted to do and it is going well, so I’ll definitely stick around, get some experience and then see what happens.”

Click to visit the T.G. Spares and Repairs Website


Francois Welman

Bridgestone Select Toowoomba / Golden West Apprenticeships
Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology

Francois Welman was the Apprentice of the Month for March 2018.

The 22-year-old was on the cusp of completing his Light Vehicle apprenticeship at the time, and now has a few months under his belt as a fully-qualified tradesman.

Working at Bridgestone Select Tyre & Auto in Toowoomba, Francois picked up the Apprentice of the Month award in recognition of his passion for the trade, his dedication and his skills development.

Having started his training with other apprenticeship training providers, Francois switched to the MTA Institute in his third year.

“Francois came over and we pushed him pretty hard to complete,” said David Twidale, his MTA Institute trainer. “And his attitude was excellent. The effort he put in to get over the line was tremendous.

“I really like his diagnostic ability and he really wants to test things and find out what has gone wrong – I like his tenacity. He is very deserving of the award.”

Francois began his automotive career with a spell of work experience at Highfields Mechanical, near Toowoomba. He moved on to Bridgestone after a couple of years and has flourished there, enjoying the diverse job requirements – requirements that have seen him step up to help run the shop when management is away.

“My role in the workshop has changed a lot since I first came here,” said Francois. “I was just a technician but now, while I still do that work, I am answering phones, making sales, talking to customers. It’s a lot more customer oriented.

“I take a lot of pride in my work. I enjoy working with customers and I wouldn’t let a job go out if I wasn’t 100 per cent happy with it.”

Francois said he had plans for later in his career, though he hoped to stay with Bridgestone for some time to come.

“My dream is to one day open my own workshop with my father,” he said. “He’s a great organiser and I believe we would make a good team!”

Click to visit the Bridgestone Select Toowoomba Website
Click to visit the Golden West Apprenticeships Website


Scott Beadel

Leda Mechanical Repairs
Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology

Scott Beadel was the Apprentice of the Month for April 2018.

The 23-year-old fourth-year light vehicle apprentice has been working at Leda Mechanical Repairs at Burleigh Heads for a little over two years and received the award in recognition of a terrific work ethic, excellent skills and an enthusiasm to learn that saw him overcome a number of hurdles to be on the cusp of completing his apprenticeship – he finished his final training module at the beginning of October.

An early starter, Scott was just 13 when he began working weekends at his uncle’s wrecking yard and he has been involved in the industry ever since, completing a TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) course through school and going on to work at a range of businesses on a variety of vehicles – from Jeeps to Skylines to Ferraris – where he picked up knowledge in the use of the latest diagnostic and computer equipment. It’s experience that helped him land the job with Leda Mechanical after struggling to find the time to dedicate to his apprenticeship training.

“Doing the training was difficult at my previous employer,” said Scott. “I wasn’t given the time and was there for nine months and completed just one module. It was difficult.

“It has been so much better at Leda. My boss, Garry, has been working in the trade for 50 years, has an unbelievable amount of knowledge, and has all the time in the world to show me how things are done and explain things to me if needed. There’s just the two of us and we work really well as a team.”

At Leda Mechanical, the skills Scott picked up over the past couple of years are extremely useful as a wide variety of vehicles come through the workshop door. And they are skills he plans to develop further as he looks to the future.

“I really enjoy the diagnostics and electrical side of the trade, and I would like to get my auto-electrical qualification,” he said. “And I do want to have my own business at some point, which is why I am striving to learn as much as I can.”

Click to visit the Leda Mechanical Website


Mark Berry

Countrywide Suzuki Spares & Repairs
Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology

27-year-old Mark Berry is currently in the second-year of his light vehicle apprenticeship and was the Apprentice of the Month for April.

A hard grafter, committed to his work at Countrywide Suzuki Spares & Repairs, Mark has shown real enthusiasm for the trade and his training.

“Mark makes a consistently good effort with all his assignments,” said Andrew Bellars, his MTA Institute trainer. “He has a genuine passion for the work and he has the ability to contribute in the automotive industry at the highest level.”

Something of a latecomer to the industry, Mark said that it took time for him find his way to the automotive profession.

“I finished school and worked in shops to fund my part-time engineering/business degree,” he said. “After a few years of study, I realised that although I enjoyed the theory and principles of engineering, I was more excited by physically working on machinery, putting concepts and ideas into practical everyday use. I decided to follow this passion, finding casual work with a marine mechanic while searching for an adult apprenticeship in the light automotive field. After six months of applying to every advert I saw, I received a call from Andrew Paterson at Countrywide Suzuki and have worked here ever since.”

Countrywide Suzuki offers a range of services – the business is a wrecking yard as well as a servicing and paint and panel shop – meaning that along with his training, Mark experiences a wide range of jobs.

“An average week might consist of a customer engine or gearbox swap, wrecking out cars for saleable parts, fixing our own sale cars, sourcing customer spares and preparing items for freight,” he says. “And I’m enjoying the large amount of practical work compared to the small amount of theory involved in completing each training module. I like knowing not only how but why a part works.”

Click to visit the Countrywide Suzuki Website


Aydin Hammond

Col Summerhayes Crash Repairs
Certificate III in Automotive Body Repair Technology

Aydin Hammond was the Apprentice of the Month for June. The 22-year-old, 3rd-year panel beating apprentice has been with Col Summerhayes Crash Repairs in Townsville for the past two years.

Having started his apprenticeship at another business and with a different training provider, Aydin moved to Col Summerhayes and the MTA Institute two years ago and has made brilliant progress.

According to Shane Palmer, Aydin’s MTA Institute trainer, he is truly enthusiastic and has a bright future in the industry.

“He is always keen to learn and very attentive,” said Shane. “He is very motivated and will go a long way.”

For Aydin, moving to work with Col Summerhayes Smash Repairs and the MTA Institute has been very positive.

“I had heard good things about the MTA Institute and the training has been very good,” he said. “I do like the different ways we train, for instance with the My Profile system, which is excellent.
And the work is good to, of course. I am enjoying it all.”

Interested in cars since he was a kid, and with his father also working in the industry, it was always likely that Aydin was going to look at automotive for a career path. He did, however, choose a slightly different journey to his dad when he went for the paint & panel apprenticeship.

“I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t follow dad into the industry as a mechanic,” he said. “Perhaps it was because it was something different but in the same industry – I can always learn the mechanical side of things from him!”

Aydin said he’s lucky to work with a great team at Col Summerhayes and that when he finishes his apprenticeship, he hopes to stay on at the business.

“I work with a couple of great panel beaters and they’re really good at showing me the ropes,” he said. “I’d possibly like to own my own business someday, but I do really like it here and I definitely want to stay around.”

Click to visit the Col Summerhayes Crash Reapirs Website


Jade Tarrant

Accelerate Auto Electrics
Certificate III in Automotive Electrical Technology

Jade Tarrant is the Apprentice of the Month for June.

The 21-year-old, 4th-year auto electrical apprentice works for the award-winning Accelerate Auto Electrics and Jade has grasped the opportunity of working for the forward-thinking business with both hands – his work ethic and understanding of the industry marking him out as an outstanding future tradesman.

“The attitude and determination to be the best is what drives Jade,” said Paul Tugwell, his MTA Institute trainer. “Any task I give him is achieved with fantastic results – I even have an assignment on autonomous sensors from Jade that I use in my lectures. That’s about the highest honour I can give my students!”

Jade said he had decided on an auto electrical apprenticeship not only because his family had a connection to the trade, but because of the direction in which the industry is headed.
“We know that hybrids and so on are going to be a part of the industry, so there will always be auto electrical work,” he said. “Also, my uncle owned an auto electrical shop in NZ, and I was interested in what he was doing.

I also knew I wanted an apprenticeship and thought auto electrical suited me best.

“I really enjoy the work,” he added.

“I do pretty much everything a tradesman does and my boss has given me lots of opportunities to work with many different cars. And I enjoy the training too. Paul has trained me from the start and he is very passionate about what he does.”

Jade said that he had not yet thought too much about where his career might take him, but that he hoped to stay on with Accelerate.

“This business is growing fast and I definitely want to stay on when I finish.”

Click to visit the Accelerate Auto Electrics Website


Zachariah Williams-Hook

Exclusive Auto Centre
Certificate III in Automotive Body Repair Technology

Zachariah Williams-Hook was the Apprentice of the Month for August 2018.

The 28-year-old, 3rd-year panel beating apprentice works for Nick Contarino at Exclusive Auto Centre in Brisbane. Already qualified as a sheet metal worker, Zac made the decision three years ago to move to another trade.

“I always wanted to expand my skills levels and when I came for an interview with Nick, he really convinced me that I could do that here,” he said. “And that is exactly what I am doing.”
It is little wonder, as Exclusive works on exactly the kind of vehicles that the name implies – exclusive vehicles. With Ferraris, Lamborghinis and other high-end cars all part of a day’s work, the requirement for employees with top-notch skill sets is clear, as is a steady hand and nerves of steel.

“I do have some transferable skills – we shape panels and fabricate some elements – so my other trade does come in handy,” said Zac. “And we work on some very unique new cars. There’s a lot of money being thrown around and quite early on I was working on the restoration of a Ferrari Dino – I was a bit nervous doing that!”

With a terrific work ethic and an enthusiasm to learn, Zac has impressed his MTA Institute trainer, Alfio Rotolone, who said Zac has proven to be one of his most outstanding students.

“He is extremely hard working and always shows initiative,” said Alfio. “He has amazing attention to detail, great patience, and an awesome scope of problem-solving techniques. And he’s always eager to take on something new. He’s a credit to himself and his employer.”

A worthy Apprentice of the Month winner, Zac shows no sign of resting on his laurels.

“I want to continue learning, and keep improving,” he said. “And I am in the right place to do that. There’s so much going on in the industry and they are really supportive here – it’s a great place to work.”

Click to visit the Exclusive Auto Centre Website


Source: Motor Trade E-Magazine (November 2018)

8 Nov 2018