Isuzu broadens southern base

Kim CousinsCountryman

The opening of a $5 million state-of-the-art truck centre in Bunbury was celebrated this month.

It was an occasion marked with a special visit from the chairman of Isuzu Japan.

South West Isuzu, previously Jem Truck Sales and owned by Major Motors, moved from its Yookson Road premises three months ago.

"We had just run out of room and resources," South West Isuzu general manager Denis Spriggs said.

"The growth over the last 10 years has been amazing."

South West Isuzu sells and services Isuzu utes and trucks as well as Case IH agricultural machinery, which it started selling nine months ago.

Agricultural sales manager Mark Stowell said it was a one-stop shop for customers who wanted the parts and service to back up their purchase.

"There hasn't been a Case IH dealer in the South West for six years - we've managed to capture the market," he said.

"You've got the whole lot here - vineyards, vegie growers, dairy, cattlemen.

"People are after 60-150hp tractors. Quite a few go out with a front-end loader.

"Farmers can drive in here and get a truck, ute and farm machinery, all on one account."

The newest tractor from Case IH, the Magnum, has been in the yard for a couple of weeks.

"We've had a lot of interest," Mr Stowell said. "It's probably a bit big for farmers down here."

Case IH network development manager Jane Godson, who travelled from Sydney for the South West Isuzu opening, said the business was very different from her last visit.

"Last time I was here it looked nothing like this," she said. "It's an agricultural area, you need a dealer that's going to support the farmers."

The official opening of the centre was attended by about 150 customers, staff and suppliers as well as representatives from Major Motors, Case IH and Isuzu.

Major Motors managing director Bob Pearce said it had been almost 10 years to the day since they purchased the business.

Joining Isuzu in 1966, Yoshirori Ida became president in 2000 and chairman in 2007. He has been credited with bringing the now financially strong business back from the brink of bankruptcy.

"I'm very happy to be here to celebrate this important occasion," he said. "Isuzu is now keeping the number one position for 23 consecutive years."

He said this was mainly because of the loyalty of Isuzu customers and the dealers.

"We are proud of the Australian market. I think we should export the great knowledge of the dealer network to other countries of the world.

"In five to 10 years I'm sure this dealer (South West Isuzu) will take on a very important role in expanding Isuzu. I'd like to see the roads full of Isuzu trucks."

Although the Japanese tsunami in March had slowed production, Mr Ida said that thanks to the warm support of countries from around the world, it was almost back to normal levels.

South West Isuzu has 14 mechanics experienced in light vehicles, trucks and agricultural machinery.

Service manager Dean Pollard said the workshop housed some of the most advanced mechanical equipment in WA.

"There are a lot of scan tools, we use computers for 70 per cent of repairs now," he said. "We have three hoists, it keeps it moving pretty quick. Oil, water and air are all accessible from every corner of the workshop. It's all about productivity."

Mobile column lifts allow hoists to be moved around to anywhere in the workshop and a brake tester is used on all vehicles serviced.

"There aren't too many in WA, they're very expensive," Mr Pollard said.

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