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By Narelle Coulter

Businesses in the Casey Cardinia region are weathering the downturn of the automotive industry thanks to a program funded by the State Government.

Berwick business Australian Precision Technologies (APT) has successfully navigated the downturn of the automotive industry thanks to forward planning and help from the State Government.
As an automotive supply chain company, APT took advantage of the State Government’s Automotive Supply Chain Transition Program.
The program was established to help businesses identify future opportunities and new markets, and highlight the capabilities needed to enter those markets.
APT business director Ron Weinzierl said the firm used ASCTP assistance to fund an employee alignment and leadership program.
“It is a key development allowing APT as a SME (small to medium enterprise) in the auto supply chain to make sure we had a clear business strategy which all employees were aligned with,” Mr Weinzierl said.
“It has allowed us to get in a consultant, an industry expert who came in to APT and developed a new strategy and allowed us to align to that new strategy.”
Mr Weinzierl said APT had been devising a strategy to diversify away from the auto industry towards a future as an advanced manufacturer for at least a decade.
In the late ’90s, about 90 per cent of APT’s work came from the auto industry.
Today it is under two per cent.
“The money we received three years ago has helped us diversify into the growth industry of defence supply,” Mr Weinzierl explained.
“The grant will help us align all our employees so they know what the new strategy is. The second focus was on key leadership skills.”
This year APT celebrates its 25th anniversary.
Mr Weinzierl said after tough business conditions in 2014/15, with APT employee numbers had increased as had its investment in technologies.
The firm has now expanded to a second facility.
“Without the grant we probably wouldn’t have taken the risks that we have and we wouldn’t have progressed our defence industry programs.”
Minister for Industry and Employment Wade Noonan said the program was part of the State Government’s $46.5 million Automotive Transition Plan to help Victorian automotive businesses transition into new markets, retrain and find sustainable jobs for automotive workers, and attract investment into communities suffering from the closure of automotive manufacturing.
“This funding will provide tailored case management services to assist automotive supply chain businesses to diversify into new markets.”
Eligible supply chain companies stand to receive assistance valued at $16,000 to develop a transition plan.
Businesses can then apply for funding of up to $50,000 to implement the key transition activities identified in their plan.
Funding is also available for business capability development, including assistance with management skills, sales and marketing strategies, financial management, new product development and marketing opportunities.
To participate in the Automotive Supply Chain Transition Program applicants must be a Victorian based business with at least 10 per cent of revenue derived from new car manufacturing by the three local car manufacturers (Ford, Holden and Toyota) and their supply chain.
For more information go to www.business.vic.gov.au

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