Café provides new drive for former auto worker
After working at Toyoda Gosei Australia (TGAU) for 14 years, Steve used the support available through the Automotive Workers in Transition Program to help start his own café.
“TGAU offered some voluntary redundancies in February, and at that point I had no idea what I wanted to do, or where I wanted to go, which was a bit daunting,” Steve said.
“I spoke to my mate Pete about buying a business and the Hub Fine Foods café at Aberfoyle Park came up on the market, so the opportunity was there and everything just fell in to place.
“Pete is a chef and has a lot of family members that own cafes and restaurants, so before buying the business we spoke to them to get their advice.
“We have been running the cafe now since June and it’s been great. The local community is awesome and the regulars are all really supportive.
“Because everything is so new to me, the biggest challenge has probably been trying to absorb all the information in a short amount of time. It is challenging, but I really love it.”
Steve said the support available through the auto program has helped him navigate through some difficult times in his life, and has continued even after leaving TGAU.
It's quite comforting and reassuring to know that the government support programs are still available to me after leaving the automotive manufacturing industry.
“I plan to start a small business course this year, which the program will pay for, and the career coaches have helped me a lot with gathering information, and finding the right course I need to do.
“I also used personal counselling services through Beyond Auto, as my dad passed away last year and I wanted to make sure I was grieving properly and was on the right path.
“I would recommend anyone use the counselling service as it can really help in talking through difficult times and in starting a new chapter of your life.”
Steve said the skills he gained working in the auto industry, have helped him in his new career.
“At TGAU I was a team leader across numerous departments for five years, and was part of a developmental group, so I did a lot of courses on leadership which has helped give me an insight in to how to manage a business.
“I also like putting systems in place to keep things tidy, orderly and organised to make sure they run smoothly, which I learnt at TGAU.
“People skills are also very important as we maintain a friendly environment here.”
When asked what advice he would give other automotive workers, Steve said research is the key.
“My advice would be to research and use your resources, as the more understanding you have, the more confident you get and the more likely you are to succeed and move forward.
“You’ve got the government giving you a great program, and the career coaches are very friendly and supportive, so take advantage of it.”
Steve has plans to grow the Hub Fine Foods café, and potentially even open more businesses in the future.
“We are just trying to get our heads around everything at the moment, and get things running perfectly and we will go from there,” Steve said.
“The sky’s the limit really – whatever I put my mind to, I can achieve now.”