The automotive parts industry is highly competitive and challenging. As such, people need a name that they can trust, a company that inspires trust across every aspect of the board. As far as cylinder heads go, no other company in Australia is as reputable as All Head Services. The company was established in 1981 as a cylinder heads specialist. Though it started with a two-man team, it had expanded into a major business by the end of the 1980s and its growth has not stopped since then.
Voula Haig, General Manager, and Richard Wells, Production Manager, talked to us about the business, the changes they have witnessed, and the details of how the company operates. Three years ago, Graham Van Damme bought the company and brought with him an experienced team of advisors and executive members. After the acquisition was completed, Graham and his team completely restructured All Head Services through a variety of initiatives. They rebuilt the financial modeling, looked at how the company did things before and then revised every single policy and aspect of it for better utilization and to provide a better product and service to their customers.
Soon after, the company moved to a modern, dedicated complex in Hallam with sections for each part of the business. An example of that is the computer system which is integrated to the whole factory. This ensures that each department can easily communicate with one another and that the company is making exactly what it needs and also sells exactly what its customers are demanding. By revolutionizing the business’s operations and establishing a modern interpretation of the company, they simultaneously ensured that it could continue to grow.
A collaborative approach to business
The acquisition brought a host of changes to the company’s day-to-day operations, particularly through people like Voula as her role is to ensure that everything is running smoothly. To do that, she organizes something that she likes to call “daily huddles”. A maintenance huddle, for instance, will include an in-depth discussion of the daily operations, including any issues that may need to be resolved quickly. On the other hand, a huddle with dispatch ensures that deliveries are on time and that any problems are amended immediately or handled in some way. Then, a huddle with the sales team would confirm the issues of the day and ensured that nothing stands in the way of daily operations. If a delivery is late, for example, the sales team will always know about it so that it can communicate better with the customers.
Communication and co-operation are two of the strongest pillars which the company has been built upon. Everyone in the company has a voice because their experience has shown that this is the best way to handle things. When something goes wrong, the right people get notified immediately so that operations continue running smoothly. Regular meetings with the production and management teams allow everyone to raise concerns and discuss any changes they believe would be in the best interest of the company. Finally, a monthly business meeting with an external consultant is conducted to help everyone be on the same page. Richard also plays a vital role in these operations as he is basically one of those people who gets the job done, involving himself in workshop supervision and systemization of the backend. Importantly, he has been with the company for 22 years so he knows exactly how things operate within.
Everything about cylinder heads
All Head Services’ main line of business is providing fully remanufactured and reconditioned cylinder heads to the Australian market. Their services are provided to both independent and franchise mechanics, auto part suppliers, dealerships, and engine reconditioners. Aside from that, they also supply a wide range of materials that assist in the operation and installation of cylinder heads. After all, the company is widely considered to be an expert on the field and it wants to follow a holistic approach to cylinder head maintenance, installation, operation, and sales. The main focus is placed on the everyday consumer market but the company does provide items to other industries such as agricultural and maritime as well.
In addition to that, the company operates a fully equipped workshop dedicated to the needs of the industry. All work is done in-house and nothing gets sent out for repairs and similar services. There’s a scaled-down version of the production line for the odd jobs as well as an array of custom item services. The company aims to identify the needs of the customer and then provide the appropriate services as well as any other products that go along with it.
Another point of difference with most other companies of its kind is that All Head Services offers no-fault warranties. According to Richard, the company “values customers and takes on board what they have to say”. What that means is that even if the customer does something wrong, like damaging a cylinder head during installation, the company will repair it free of charge. In fact, they will assist with everything that has to do with cylinder heads. When a technician runs into an issue, they can always rely on the company and make a simple phone call to get some assistance. And since the industry is so competitive, the company is prepared to beat any price in order to retain its clients and grow its database even further.
“Having a relationship with customers and building on that is quite critical. We would like to effectively be known as the trusted advisor or the first port of call regarding cylinder heads. Relationships are key to everything we do. We put the customer first all the time, we try to partner with them each time and a partnership has many layers. So they will call to either buy a cylinder head or for technical information and support. Being considered the technical expert on cylinder heads is incredibly important for us and we value that, both in regards to our customers and our suppliers”, suggests Voula.
Investing in staff means investing in the company
On top of that, All Head Services places high value in its staff. As mentioned before, every member of the company is encouraged to make their voice heard. To foster innovation, one has to take into account several different factors. When the production team has something to say, for instance, every other section of the company will listen to that team’s concerns and then offer solutions or alternative pathways. If an issue can be amended, it will be redirected to the right people so that they can work together to improve the matter or fix the problem.
For Voula, investing in the staff is an obvious approach: “In terms of investing in people, it’s far more reaching than simply training & development it’s the collaborative and communicative approach we take with staff. We hold monthly OHS meetings and safety talks because we want to make sure that our staff is looked after in every respect from the fatigue that they may have on the floor to how the area is ergonomically suitable and whether it provides for better efficiencies when completing their work. The continuous improvement of processes and systems IS the investment in people. Our staff participate in those conversations and we look at making it better for them.”
Investing in the staff is also another important part of the company’s philosophy. Management staff is regularly invited to complete finance and business courses so that they can grow and contribute to the company in turn. Feedback is critical during those stages as it allows the company to focus on what’s working and change what isn’t. The staff meetings allow the management team to quickly redirect its focus where necessary such as creating a more ergonomically suitable working area and to reduce or eliminate fatigue among the staff. Everyone talks about what needs to change so that the company can grow from within.
“Every single part of the business aims to improve something else and everyone works in partnership with one another. It keeps people happy and increases productivity”, Voula explains.
The trusted name in cylinder heads
According to Richard, the company’s ultimate goal is to be a sustainable business. To achieve that, they need to complete long series of short and long term goals but positioning All Head Services as a dynamic company has already helped with that process. Moreover, a lot of behind-the-scene changes will have to be completed before any of the longest-term goals can be fulfilled. For now, the company is content with being the leader in its field.
“We are a very dynamic company. We do put plans in place for short-term goals up to five years long. On the top of the list of our goals and aspirations would be to be a sustainable company. That’s the ultimate goal. To make sure that the whole business is sustainable. We are a very competitive and price-driven industry, there’s hundreds of little challenges that go on behind the scenes to make that happen and that’s pretty much what we are focusing on day-to-day”, says Richard.
So far, the unique approach of All Head Services to business and corporate culture has obviously been paying off. This is a company that always strives to improve in every aspect and it does so by taking into account every single different factor that affects its business. From developing strong business relationships to fostering productivity within its workforce, the company has been taking some pretty significant improvement steps in every area. Thankfully for everyone involved, it seems like All Head Services will continue on this path for a long time.
AT A GLANCE
WHO: All Head Services
WHAT: Australia’s leading company in remanufactured and reconditioned cylinder hears
WHERE: Technology Circuit, Hallam VIC 3803, Australia