Over 1,000 delegates and guests attended Melbourne’s premium venue, the Palladium at Crown on Saturday evening, for the Victorian Automotive Chamber of Commerce’s industry awards and centenary gala event. Master of ceremonies, Mike Munro kicked the evening off as he introduced Tony Sanchez, VACC president.
Sanchez welcomed a variety of honoured guests, including various representatives of the Victorian government and opposition. He acknowledged the sponsors, recognised the achievements of this year’s finalists and of course, in this landmark year highlighted that the industry is entering a period of unprecedented change. With this change, he said, comes opportunity and the industry has never been more accessible or more attractive. Sanchez also paraphrased Charles Darwin’s quote that it is those who are more adaptable to change that will survive and thrive.
The Hon John Brumby, former Victorian Premier and Chair of diamond sponsor, MTAA Super, reflected on the VACC’s pivotal role in the creation of MTAA Super, which now has 230,000 members. Brumby too spoke of change, challenge and opportunity for those who want to go out and get it.
Mike Munro then interviewed Craig Lowndes, current Supercars driver of No. 888 Holden ZB Commodore for Triple Eight Race Engineering. Lowndes spokes about his beginnings as a motor mechanic who is more familiar with “carbys” than computers and his entre’ into Supercars when Dick Johnson racing cancelled his trial and he subsequently signed with Holden Racing Team. His advice to all the business owners in the room was, “Never look back – the only thing you’ll get is a sore neck”.
Throughout the evening there were 35 categories of awards with the following winners in the collision repair and restoration categories:
- Best Body Repair PV Small Business: Essendon panels
- Best Body Repair PV Large Business: Sheen Bayswater and Sheen Bulleen
- Best Body Repair CV Small Business: Royans Melbourne
- Best Restoration Project: CAARS Smash Repairs
Throughout the evening we were entertained by the Sam Ludeman Band and the headline act was “Australia’s high priestess of pop” Kate Ceberano AM, who really had the place jumping.
In his closing comments VACC Executive Director Geoff Gwilym commented that he was proud to lead an organisation with such a proud and distinguished history. He specifically acknowledged the “unsung heroes” who make things happen behind the scenes across the whole industry and encouraged all finalists and winners to promote their achievements as they market their businesses going forward.