Having had established strong relationships with some of Melbourne’s biggest companies and property owners while at Atlas Air, news quickly spread of the founding trio’s new venture and the landline at Ferntree Gully soon began ringing.
In our second instalment of “Looking Back” we take a look at Airmaster’s foundation clients and how the company quickly gained a great reputation.
One of the earliest phone calls was from Fred Turnbull at Highpoint City Shopping Centre in Maribyrnong, in Melbourne’s west. At the time, Highpoint was one of the largest shopping centres in Australia, and was wholly-owned by the Besen family – founders of the Sussan retail chain. “We were very careful not to poach other people’s clients, so when Fred said Highpoint wanted us (Seebach, Page and Courtney) back, I asked that they invite us to tender,” recalls Courtney. “They did, and Highpoint became our very first client.”
The fledgling Airmaster quickly took flight, with The Age building in Spencer Street joining Highpoint as the company’s foundation clients. “Clients who we had previously had a good relationship with followed us, and we just built and built and built. We quickly gained a great reputation, and soon we were being invited to tender for business with companies that we had never dealt with before.” Soon after, Airmaster was buying service vehicles and tools, and putting more and more staff on to fulfil its service obligations with its growing client base, including Box Hill’s Whitehorse Plaza and Chadstone Shopping Centre in Melbourne’s south-east. “When we started at Chadstone, it was a completely different site back then. Of course, it has always been significant, but it has grown to become Australia’s premier shopping centre and we’ve been there growing with it – just as we have with so many of our other long-term clients.”
“One of the things our customers tell us that they like about Airmaster is that they’ve been dealing with the same people for a long period of time. There’s a lot to be said about keeping people together.”
Since its inception, Airmaster has built a winning culture based on employee retention and a deliver-at-all-costs attitude. “I would never hold someone back who wanted to have a shot at making it on their own, but I hate losing anybody,” says Courtney. “I want to keep people forever.” He says one of the keys to the company’s long track record of employee retention has been to ensure Airmaster remains a growing business. “Growth provides opportunity and that feeds back into retaining people because if they know there is a career path within the business, they will stay with you. Our young people know that they can start out as an apprentice, become a technician and then progress into sales, or account management or even middle and senior management.”
Airmaster’s apprentices and young staff members are among the most talented in the industry, and continue to be recognised through Apprentice of the Year and Young Achiever awards.
As well as its ongoing commitment to employing apprentices, Airmaster is an advocate for workplace gender equality.