Bruce Connors has been with Pickles for over 30 years. Why? He says “The industry excites me, I’m passionate about it; it’s fast, ever-changing and dynamic.” Starting as a trainee washing cars and helping out with various aspects of the business, Bruce is now the Director of the Industrial division with an annual turnover of over half a billion. Here’s what he had to say about his time.
What does your current role entail?
I look after the industrial division and oversee all remarketing, valuation and advisory. Over the years we have inspected, valued and sold R&D assets through to manufacturing lines and processing plants, aircraft, households good, yellow goods and more. I work with a great team; their experience and drive second to none when it comes to servicing our vendors. Part of my role is identifying opportunities for business growth such as the launch of our Mining, Oil & Gas division this year. We’ve already valued a number of high-value assets and conducted multiple auctions and EOIs.
The industry excites me; it’s fast, ever-changing and dynamic. The people I work with, the characters out in the field and the constant opportunities to learn makes Pickles a great place to work. It’s a unique market and a unique company where the original family values are part of the company’s values driving our everyday actions and contributing to the success we have seen over the last 50 years.
You were a critical part in landing Pickles’ first guaranteed unreserved auction – what was that like?
A transport business in South Australia went into liquidation in the early 2000s. We looked at the market and decided a guaranteed unreserved auction would deliver the best outcomes for our vendor and also spike interest in the market. For the first time, Pickles offered a guaranteed sum for the assets sold. There was a huge turnout, competitive bidding and fantastic results which exceeded all expectations.
It was a real testament to Pickles, our company’s ability to drive forward, innovate and over-deliver on what we promise. We are leaders in our field and while there was risk, there was trust, from the whole business, in the team that we could deliver. It was a testament to the team and a reflection of the skills and capabilities we hold.
You’ve been the Director, Industrial since 2005, what changes have you seen in this time?
We’ve seen continued year on year growth within the business as well as expansion of the team and its capabilities, products and services. The industrial division has more than doubled in size. We turn over half a billion in mining, transport and construction assets every year and we’re still growing.
Technology and innovation has played a big part in improving efficiencies such as our booking in software, PicklesLIVE app and DIYinspect, a fast and free way to sell trucks. We’ve introduced residual value guarantees and advisory teams across the country servicing insolvency practitioners in the finance industry.
What has been your career path?
I started in 1987 as a trainee, helping to set up sales and wash cars. From there I moved into the Truck and Machinery Division. At the time there were four branches (Sydney, Melbourne and Newcastle) with only thirty people. I worked across a variety of roles, everything from admin to sales to auctioneering and valuation, getting a solid grasp on the business and its operations. The first Truck & Machinery Sale had 10 assets. We then won the Telstra contract and moved branches until settling at Moorebank where we remained for 10 years. Since then I’ve worked as the Branch Manager and Regional Manager based in Adelaide setting up the Trucks and Machinery Auctions. In 2002 I moved to Melbourne and took on the role of National Manager before taking on Director, Industrial in 2005.
What is your favourite part?
It’s dynamic and full throttle at all times. The thrill of the chase, finding new sales, talking to new vendors, bringing on innovative projects to drive our business forward and the people – these are the best parts.
Pickles has dramatically changed since you started in 1987. What has been the biggest challenge, biggest project and best memory in this time?
When I first started the business had 30 people. Now we have over 1000. This as well as technology, the internet, the diversity of projects and assets we work on and workplace health and safety. A few years back we introduced WHS officers at branches around the country, improving our operations and safe guarding the health and safety of every staff member and customer.
The biggest challenge is competition within the market. We need to stay at the top of our game, investing in our people and processes to ensure we deliver superior experiences for our vendors and customers. We need to be actively hunting down and finding the next project to propel us forward.
There are too many memories and projects to recall but a standout was in Mackay and Kalgoorlie in 2004. We hit $20 million in gross sales with over 30% of the mining assets requiring major rectification. I managed a team of fitters and mechanics for over two months in order to present the equipment ready for sale in its best light. It was a real testament to the team at Pickles and our skills and capabilities that we could efficiently and effectively turn this around with such great results.
Doubling industrial from its current state turning over half a billion in mining, transport and construction assets. We’ve seen tremendous growth over the past 10 years and we’re refocusing our efforts on two key areas; continually improving our services and what we can offer our customers, and finding new avenues for growth. We’ve built the industrial team from the ground up to be the best in the market. We also want to encourage more youth to get involved as this is a unique market with lots of opportunities.