Q&A With Brett Smythe, Isuzu Parts Business Manager
With 25 years of transport industry experience under his belt before he even stepped through the doors of Isuzu Australia Limited (IAL), Brett Smythe has gone from managing depots in all over Australia to being stationed in Melbourne’s western suburbs, at the IAL head office.
Brett’s been everywhere and seen it all—from transporting Special Air Service (SAS) gear, urgent medical supplies and court evidence, to finally becoming the Business Manager for the IAL Parts department. At this point in time, Brett can’t imagine being in any other career outside of the transport industry.
What got you into the transport industry?
I played cricket with a mate who worked at TNT and that’s how I got into TNT. I was there for 20 years, starting as a casual and working my way up to numerous supervisor and management roles. I became a depot general manager, with my first role being in Alice Springs.
After that, I managed depots in North West Victoria, from Bendigo across to Shepparton, up to Mildura, then back to Tullamarine in Melbourne to manage the Next Flight operation for TNT in Victoria and Tasmania. I’d manage the moving of anything and everything with TNT, SAS gear, evidence for courts, urgent medical goods such as moving patients on tables, organs or the like.
I eventually moved from TNT to efm Logistics as a transport consultant. I was able to go from seeing how one business operated at TNT, to seeing how hundreds of other transport companies operated.
How did you come to work for the Parts department at IAL?
While I was at efm Logistics, my first major ongoing contract was with Isuzu in Brisbane.
During my time managing the Isuzu contract and working closely with the Isuzu team, I became aware of the position of Parts Business Manager being advertised.
Dealing with IAL staff as part of the freight contract enabled me to be able to clarify with some of the staff the different aspects and requirements of the role.
After some investigation I thought it was a position that I might be well suited to, knowing the company and people well. So I went through the interview process with the external consultant and with IAL after that, and was successful.
What does your role as Parts Business Manager entail?
I manage the warehouse, which handles the parts supply to over 75 dealers and Isuzu authorised service and parts outlets throughout Australia. We also supply Isuzu parts to the New Zealand distributor and to countries in the South Pacific, which we call “The Hub”. The Hub includes Tahiti, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, New Guinea, Cook Islands, New Caledonia, Tonga, Samoa and the Marshall Islands.
I also manage the Parts support team, which handles enquiries from the dealership, whether it’s interpretation, freight enquiries or parts technical support.
I look after the Parts inventory team too, which controls the ordering of all the parts out of Japan and from local suppliers.
What do you love most about your job?
I really like the versatility—there’s never a day that’s the same. We’re always busy, we’re always working on a project. It keeps you on your toes. You’re never sitting at your desk thinking, “I don’t know what I’m going to do today.”
I love continually learning about the Isuzu brand and the makeup of the company. I feel lucky to have come to a company that’s been a market leader for this long. But maintaining that leadership takes a lot of hard work.
What’s the key to success in a business?
For me, it’s continual improvement.
Isuzu’s been going strong for a long time, but we don’t just rest on our laurels. Continual improvement is needed, not just in parts sales, but also in the warehouse, introducing innovations to create better efficiency for moving the 2,000 items per day we send out.
We also share efficiency techniques with other Isuzu companies globally. And we continually review inventory management, ordering and forecasting, to optimise performance.
Where do you think you’d be if you hadn’t started at Isuzu?
I think I’d still be in the freight industry somewhere. I hope to have a long career at Isuzu, building and maintaining Isuzu’s number one stature in Australia and ensuring that the Parts department continues to support the success of the Isuzu brand.