Women in Trucking: Theresa Montgomery, Parts Manager, Kenway and Clark
With a storied family history in trucking and road transport, the Montgomery name is well known amongst the trucking community of northern New South Wales and Queensland.
Having spent 15 years building a career as the Parts Manager at Moree-based Kenway and Clark, in the cotton belt of northwest New South Wales, Theresa Montgomery is one of the longest serving women in the Australian agricultural and truck parts industry, and proud to be affiliated with the Isuzu Trucks brand.
Theresa is passionate about promoting the automotive industry as a career path for women and is working on building up the percentage of women in auto parts roles in her region.
Where did you develop your mechanical knowledge?
My parents owned trucks, carting cotton and wheat, and my dad worked in freight before that, so I have been around trucks and farming machinery my whole life. It was always a treat to get into the truck with Dad during the school holidays, helping him out.
How did you find yourself in the parts side of things?
I fell into it. I’m a qualified sign-writer and started off my employment journey as a sign-writer for a cotton processing plant that operated cotton machinery in 1997. One day, I was asked to look after the warehouse for that company while someone else was away and they noticed that I had a fair bit of mechanical knowledge, so they offered me a full-time position in the spare parts department. It developed from there.
When did you start with Kenway and Clark?
I left my job in spare parts at the cotton processing plant as the work was seasonal—so for six months of the year it was pretty quiet there. I opened my own machine shop, manufacturing my own auto parts and components for a while, but I wanted to work somewhere a little busier and I knew that Kenway and Clark was always busy. So, I applied here and got the job as Parts Interpreter at the front desk. It’s been 15 years since then and I’m now the Parts Manager!
What does a standard day look like as Parts Manager?
There isn’t such thing as a standard day really. It all depends on what’s happening in the world. Stock ordering, stock control, stock taking, dealing with customers, answering the phones, responding to emails, procuring parts and meeting deadlines, that’s the bread and butter of the job.
What do you love most about your job? Was this something you saw yourself doing?
I love the people! My fellow staff, the customers… if you didn’t like what you were doing, you wouldn’t come back, right? As for the second question, I never thought this was something I’d do for a living, but I’ve been here for 15 years, so there must be something special about it.
Have you seen any changes in your role, and the broader parts and automotive industry over the years?
Everything has been digitised—we’ve gone from fax to email, paper manuals to internet. Smart phones and devices have made the job a lot easier too. Identifying parts is a simple process now, all you need to do is send a photo. A picture is better than a thousand words, at least where truck parts are concerned.
I’ve got two generations working here in the Parts department, the older generation and the newer generation coming through. The younger generation can adapt to changes in technology very quickly and the older generation can too, but they’d still prefer to pull out the book from under the desk if they had the choice.
Talk us through the gender dynamic in the automotive industry?
It’s always been a male dominated industry, and still is today, but now when I go to conferences, I see more women around. Fifteen years ago, there were women in spare parts roles, but they weren’t in any management positions—they’d be interpreters or below. Now there are more female Parts Managers. My parts department is a 50/50 split between female and male… my daughter is working here, too.
Is your daughter’s career path heading on the same trajectory as your own?
I believe so. She’s been here for two years now and she’s starting to get a good grasp of what’s going on. I think she’s coming along well. But she’s got some big boots to fill if she wants to be as good as her mother!
Like anything, the role becomes second nature with enough time. It’s a rewarding and challenging role all in one.
Would you recommend a job in parts to other women?
Want to read more great stories about women in trucking? Check out a Day in the Life with Belinda McKimmie, cattle farmer and livestock transport driver!