Looking at the challenges and fascination of working at the giant Porsche Centre Brisbane.
An Australian mechanic’s working life can take many forms, from a dusty workshop attached to a servo in Woop Woop, right through to finding yourself beneath a $700,000 European supercar in the big city. You’ll learn plenty at both, but for many, the dream is to wear an exotic brand on the work shirt. With its quality-filled history of desirable road and race cars, Porsche perfectly fits the bill.
In Brisbane’s buzzing Fortitude Valley, Porsche Centre Brisbane is an imposing sight from the main road. Through the showroom’s glass frontage you can lust after the latest performance and luxury offerings, while an ex-Vern Schuppan 1984 956C from the Japanese Sports Car Championship reminds of the brand’s racing credentials.
Attached is a substantial service and parts workshop, where nine technicians and three apprentices are kept busy thanks to Porsche’s marked Australian sales growth in recent years. David Marshall is Fixed Operations Manager at the workshop, a true enthusiast with some 35 years of service with the brand, who understands the passion behind owning or working for Porsche. “Even with the quite dramatic growth, we’re still lucky enough to remain a niche business, connected to our clients,” he said. “Without sounding corny it really is all about your people, and Porsche is a people business.
We’re still very accessible to our clientele, that’s our point of difference.”
So what’s life like on the workshop floor at Porsche? In Brisbane there are 12 hoists, a wheel alignment area and vast floor space to cover the numerous service and repair tasks. “There’s a hoist directly adjacent to my office so a client can come in and see for themselves a pre-purchase inspection or service, where they can interact directly with the technician,” David said.
The thing with Porsche is their older cars are kept alive by enthusiast owners, relishing the drive experience, engineering and of course, their ability to increase in value.
“From a challenge perspective, in some cases we’re asking technicians to work on cars such as an air-cooled 911 from the early 1970s,” David explained. “That’d be the equivalent of an LC Torana at your local Holden dealership. One day you’re working on the latest direct injection vehicle, the next on mechanical fuel injection. It’s certainly a challenge when the dealership services such a wide range of vehicles.”
This must surely be part of the appeal of working for the brand though? “Of course,” David said. “I don’t think any technician is happy spinning oil filters off and on each day, and we’re lucky that the power of the brand brings people in with enthusiasm and passion for Porsche. It’s a challenging brand because there’s so much tech involved now. They have to be highly skilled in electronics – everything is rapidly advancing with hybrid and electric vehicles – but they still need the day-to-day mechanical aptitude as well because we do a varied range of repairs here.”
So while some jobs inevitably involve fitting something that comes out of a box, proper fixes happen here too. “Technicians are still doing what they should: pulling something apart, finding the fault and putting it back together,” David said. Those on the ground are well trained to do so. Alongside TAFE, apprentices do four of five blocks of Porsche-specific training in Melbourne each year, while all technicians regularly head to Victoria for training and accreditation.
“I Don’t Think Any Other Trade Is Going To See The Changes And Diversity As Ours Will In The Next Few Years. Bring On The New Technology I Say.”
The perks are there too. David said every frontline person from service advisers to sales consultants were recently flown to Adelaide to experience the new 992 version of the iconic 911 sports car at the giant The Bend race track. “The motor industry is high in hours and demanding, but this sort of thing is what we all live for, to go and experience the product. I’m continually impressed at how these cars perform, and we can pass that enthusiasm and passion on to the customers.”
Porsche Centre Brisbane carries about $600,000-worth of spare parts inventory at any one time; most extras can arrive from Melbourne overnight, while the rarer bits can, as a rule of thumb, be shipped from Germany within seven to ten working days.
In many ways it’s a workshop like many others in terms of the everyday tasks on everyday cars. It’s no secret that Porsche’s sales success of late has been courtesy of its Cayenne and Macan SUVs – the best-selling vehicles in its current range – and these dominate the service area. Of course, the next day a $650,000 911 GT2 RS could roll in, or a 1973 911S with 2.7-litre six-cylinder from a completely different technological era. “Having a 917 start next to you is pretty special,” David said of the model which won Le Mans in 1970 and 1971, “and the 956 in our showroom, the owner has come in, taken covers off and talked about racing it around the world to our staff. That’s pretty special stuff.”
History’s one thing, but the next few years are bound to see massive change as electric vehicles come to the fore. “If you’re out of the game as a technician for six months you’ll be way behind,” David said. “I don’t think any other trade is going to see the changes and diversity as ours will in the next few years. Bring on the new technology I say, and it’s going to be an exciting time in the motor industry the next five to ten years.” It will make the gulf in technology between those early air-cooled 911s and the latest electric supercar all the more vast, but probably even more interesting for those at a Porsche Centre such as this.
Call (07) 3867 6911
For information visit http://www.porschecentrebrisbane.com.au