The Australian bus industry has much to be proud of when it comes to the quality of its products. Australian-built buses are renowned for their manufacturing excellence.
The fact is, however, that almost all buses used in Australia are placed under punishing schedules on busy roads in unforgiving climates. The best engineering and construction in the world can’t prevent wear-and-tear, accidents and other problems.
This is why after sales service is such an exceptionally important part of any manufacturer’s operations. But for decades, the product that has left after sales has been overshadowed by the product that has left the manufacturing facility.
We spoke with Brian Weller from Volgren After Sales in Queensland, who explained why he makes certain the Australian builder’s after sales is just as good as its manufacturing.
Brian Weller is part of a team of twelve specialist after sales workers who service buses from Cairns to northern New South Wales. He says in the industry the unit is perhaps best known for the work they do for Brisbane City Council but their skill and experience allows them to work with a wide range of operators across the state.
“There’s high numbers of Volgrens throughout Queensland. They’ve proven themselves to be an incredibly reliable product that operates well in local conditions. They’re everywhere. We can work on Volgren route buses, school and charter vehicles, but we’re also comfortable working on other body manufacturers, too.
Brian says that one of the joys of his ten years at Volgren has been meeting such a variety of people. In his current role he works with a team whose members’ qualifications are as diverse as their professional backgrounds. During their collective careers, he and his colleagues – among them fitters and turners, qualified coach and body builders, as well as boilermakers – have worked on a wide range of vehicles, from fire engines and trucks to trailers and trains.
But, Brian says, they all agree there’s something special about buses.
“[Buses] get in your blood. The one thing that brings us together is a shared passion for buses and getting them back on the road.
“We all like a challenge – especially in smash repairs. Everyone likes the challenge of diagnosing problems quickly and fixing the vehicles as soon as possible.”
Restoring a bus after an accident is an important part of what the team does, and work on a vehicle after a major collision can involve as many as 100 hours of labour. But post-crash work isn’t their sole focus. After sales service, as Brian explains, is as much about maintenance and preventive action as it is about intervention after a bus is seriously damaged on the road.
“Anyone who sells a product needs to back it up and that’s what we do. It’s part of what we offer. We build them every day, we know how to pull them apart and we know how to fix them, if problems come up,” Brian says, adding that the team work closely with Volgren’s engineers based in Dandenong.
“The ability to offer customers mobile service vehicles, specialists repairers, spare parts and access to 20-metre spray booths is a huge advantage. Our after sales vehicle support is second to none; there aren’t many body repairs or technical issues that we haven’t encountered.”
Brian says apart from the team’s unparalleled skill and vast experience, it is their determination and adaptability that set them apart.
“If we need to put in the hours we do, we come in over weekends if need be. If it is not turning its wheels that’s a problem for us and the customer. We do whatever we need to do to get vehicles back on the road [and] make sure that we have a perfectly safe bus.
“If you want technical advice over the phone, we can help with that. We can send our qualified technicians if you have a smash. We’re versatile and it doesn’t matter what part of Queensland or northern New South Wales you’re in. We’re here to help.”