Isuzu Australia Aims For Gold In Japan
Held at Isuzu Australia Limited (IAL)’s purpose-built training facility in Truganina, Victoria, this year’s National Technical Skills Competition saw the best Isuzu Trucks technicians from all over the country pit their wits and skills against complex, high-pressured tests, including a written examination.
The competition was a close one, with Matthew Radke from Black Truck Sales (Queensland) and Michael Primmer from Winter & Taylor (Victoria) emerging as the top two finalists. The top two technicians have earned their place to represent Australia at this year’s Isuzu World Technical Competition, also known as the I-1 Grand Prix (I-1 GP).
The upcoming I-1 GP will be held in Fujisawa, Japan, and will take place on 30 October 2019. Mr Primmer and Mr Radke, together with team coach Charlie Gracewood, will travel to Fujisawa to represent Australia.
Team coach, Charlie Gracewood
Mr Gracewood had previously coached the 2014 Australia team, seeing them clinch second place at the 2014 I-1 GP. This year, Mr Radke and Mr Primmer will undergo an intensive three-week training program with Mr Gracewood in preparation for Japan.
What makes these top two finalists the best of the best?
Participants of the National Technical Skills Competition are shortlisted based on stringent criteria, including results from the 2018 Isuzu Trucks Technicians Guild program.
The participants were thrown straight into the pressure cooker, beginning the long, intense competition day with an extensive theoretical exam. The written exam was followed by a series of complex practical tests, which focused on electrical diagnostics, engine diagnostics and engine repair.
The difficulty level of this year’s National Technical Skills Competition has also been ramped up, as compared to previous years, said Mr Gracewood and IAL National Training Manager, David Smith.
Mr Smith said, “All the other countries who are competing in Japan have done the same, to match the everchanging and growing demands of both the competition and the general market, so competition in Japan will be stiff.”
Referring to Mr Radke and Mr Primmer, Mr Smith shared, “We’ve got the top two of some of the absolute best Isuzu truck technicians on this year’s I-1 GP team.”
“This year’s National Technical Skills Competition, we stepped it up a notch, and they handled it really well,” added Mr Gracewood.
Investing in their people, benefitting their customers
The National Technical Skills Competition—and the I-1 GP—isn’t only about encouraging healthy competition and a sense of unity within the Isuzu Trucks community.
Team coach Charlie Gracewood (front row, far left) and the participants (left to right, from far left front row) Magno Atanoc, Matthew Radke, Jason Lee, Alex Lee and (left to right, from far left back row) Richard Dunsmuir, Adil Malinovic, Michael Primmer, Jason Peterkin, Luc Akurangi and Brad Hickey.
The competition is also a way of investing in their people, which Mr Smith says is a full-circle approach to giving Isuzu Trucks customers the best experience.
“We see our people as investments, and we want to keep investing in them any opportunity we can— incentives to keep learning, providing additional opportunities for upskilling, especially with the upcoming three-week training.
“Although there can only be two technicians selected for the I-1 GP, the competition has seen many excellent technicians come away with new and honed skills and perspectives.
“Many of the participants have shared that after the competition, they can now diagnose and treat the root cause of a truck problem quicker than they could before they came here.
“At the end of the day, that knowledge and skill will be experienced firsthand by our customers,” Mr Smith said.
No stranger to upskilling or the I-1 GP is Winter & Taylor’s Michael Primmer, who competed last year and took home third place in the individual category at the I-1 GP— making him the third best Isuzu technician in the world.
“Matthew, Michael and the other participants are a great indication of how talented, knowledgeable and skilled our Australian technicians are,” Mr Smith said.
“The closeness of this year’s competition proves that Isuzu Trucks customers in Australia can be confident knowing that they have expert technicians supporting them when they need it.”