September 29, 2023

FortTalk – Alex Mraz OPERATIONS MANAGER

How did you get started in the industry?

I was unsure what to do after school, so I approached All Trades QLD. I was offered an administration role at a smash repairer on the northside of Brisbane.  I spent the next 8 years with Ray Bathurst at B&I Panel & Paint learning the ins and outs of the industry before Gemini purchased the business. Following the acquisition, I was given a Centre Manager opportunity within Gemini and continued to grow in the role over several larger sites.

What do you do now?

I commenced with Fortress in early 2021, managing Springwood. I continued to develop my management capability and am now an Operations Manager within the Fortress Collision Repair Services group and member of the executive team. I am responsible for our RACQ recommended repairers and mentoring allocated Centre Managers to achieve KPIs. Fortress is a company that’s growing and provides great career pathways in operations roles and other business functions.

What do you like the most about the industry?

I like the growth opportunities within the industry and seeing the trends from years past go full circle in some aspects of what we do today. Not being from the trade, I always enjoy learning new things including methods of repairs for the larger smash repairs. What I like the most about being with Fortress is the people and the opportunities that have been forthcoming. Not only for myself, but the growth and opportunities for others to progress in other avenues of the industry is pretty special. The people and culture within the Fortress group at each site give it that family feel whilst having a corporate mindset. Our apprenticeship program is also something that separates us from our competitors which is largely driven by Mark Reid. I've grown from a Centre Manager to an Operations Manager on a smaller scale whilst I learn and spend more time with our leadership/executive team. This alone is very rewarding and is a fantastic opportunity for my own personal development and growth.

What do you most dislike about the industry? 

The negativity surrounding the industry stands out the most. In a skills shortage industry, it's not hard to see why so many have left or have chosen other trades over the years. I feel the times have changed and there is a good opportunity for individuals and businesses alike to address the stigma surrounding the industry and create a new mindset. 

Who do you most admire?

Ray Bathurst, Joe Walsh & Mark Reid have been the most influential people in my time in the industry. Ray taught me everything I needed to know about operating a Panel shop in a Family run environment. Joe showed me how maximise opportunities and transform the mentality of trades to be more effective and efficient as a business leader. Mark showed me the importance of each individual and how we as leaders can influence the industry through our training and development of future employees. 

Cars. Your first, dream car and current car?

I owned a Holden Vectra as a learner driver. I have had a couple of others along the way toward the Isuzu D-Max I own today. My dream car doesn't exist at this moment in time! I'm happy with what I have for where I'm at given this stage of my life. It fits the kids bikes and our luggage for when we travel as a family, that's all I need 😊

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