Prime Mover Magazine

The new face of heavy vehicle maintenance

The new face of heavy vehicle maintenance

Disruption isn’t just limited to the digital economy. Sandro Tranquim is changing the concept of heavy vehicle maintenance with entrepreneurial spirit and the mindset of a global citizen.

Sandro Tranquim’s role model isn’t your everyday business icon. Where most people his age would likely refer to Tesla’s Elon Musk, Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin, or maybe even Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, the 39-year-old is inspired by Linfox patriarch, Lindsay Fox.

Starting out with just one truck in 1956, a Ford F500 V8, the now 80-year-old has created one of the largest logistics firms in the world, with 36,000 employees in 11 countries and annual revenue in excess of $6 billion, according to Business Insider.

Just as Lindsay Fox disrupted the transport sector half a century ago, Sandro is hoping to change the traditional notion of heavy vehicle maintenance with his family-run operation, Tranquim, based out of Melbourne’s west.  

Born in Mozambique and raised in Zimbabwe, Sandro was trained in the auto-electrical trade by his father before receiving formal training as an engineering technician in the UK, which equipped him with the necessary skills and ambition to establish a small business in Western Australia. In late 2015, he then relocated to Victoria with the goal to rebuild his business from scratch – and make Lindsay Fox proud.

The reason for the risky move, Sandro says, is that the somewhat stagnant heavy vehicle maintenance industry is in dire need of an overhaul, especially with regards to technology, customer service and team culture. As such, the revamped business’s point of difference is to remove the pain from the process, as he puts it, regardless how big or small the job.

To do so, he has put his company on wheels: A fleet of three fully equipped service vans is now travelling Victoria 24/7 to provide high quality repair and maintenance services “and make our customers smile,” he says. Focusing on auto-electrical, mechanical and air-conditioning repairs across the waste management, haulage and earthmoving industries, Sandro says the business has grown from a one-man operation to four full-time staff in the first year alone.

Major accounts like JJ Richard’s, Shredex and other blue-chip industry players now work with the Melbourne-based family man, who is quick to admit the business is not just a passion project, but also a means to provide for his family and help fund care for a health issue currently plaguing his youngest child. 

To set the business up for future growth – and build a strong foundation for his family – Sandro is acutely aware that he has to cater to his customers’ increasing sense of mobility. With research indicating that wearable technology and digital aids will transform technician productivity in the future, for example, he is already looking for ways to bring new app-based systems to the business in a move to deliver a competitive and professional service that is different to what the truck industry is used to.

Apart from technology, Sandro is also leveraging his natural leadership capabilities and family values. His greatest mentor was his father, Antonio, he says, who not only helped him develop a passion for vehicle mechanics from his own, small auto-electrical business in Zimbabwe, but also fostered the entrepreneurial and analytical mindset Sandro’s business is now benefitting from.

Building on that foundation, Sandro has been able to foster a friendly, yet entrepreneurial, culture across his team that is based on ‘serving’ in the original sense of the word. This implies training his technicians to act “professionally, patiently, and with kindness,” he says.

Training and continuous improvement also play an important role in Sandro’s personal development: While it is often argued that entrepreneurs achieve their success from trial and error, hard work, or having the right talent, Sandro is of the view that education plays an equally integral part in the success of a young aspiring entrepreneur. Equipped with numerous certificates and qualifications which he acquired in the UK, Sandro advanced his formal training in Australia. In addition to having the necessary trade qualifications in auto-electrical and mechanical engineering, as well as air-conditioning, he is proud to now also be a specialist in tracking systems, vehicle security and auto steering. As a true global citizen with cross-cultural experience and the right education, Sandro hopes he is well set to bring a breath of fresh air to a stagnant industry.

This feature story was written by Federico Re, Entrepreneurship Coach / Freelance Writer / Journalist at Creative Entrepreneur.

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