Ten years ago Andrew Aguiar left his job in project management in one of Australia’s largest telecommunications companies to start his own earth-moving transport business. With one in three small businesses in Australia destined for failure, Andrew was taking a risk. Starting with just one truck and one bobcat, Andrew’s business now boasts a fleet of more than twenty-two trucks and employs a team of twenty.
The fast growth of AA Earthworks and Haulage which now specialises in the servicing of civil construction companies including builders, drainers, plumbers, local councils, government departments and residential properties is largely due to the customer focused business model and Andrew’s experience in project management. Andrew has built a strong reputation within industry, having worked with a number of big players including Olsen Salt, QLD Civil, Port Connect, Diona, Airport Link and currently has a contract with BMD Constructions at the Brisbane Airport.
When Andrew first launched the business, he had no formal qualifications. This meant that Andrew needed to become a fast learner; and that’s exactly what he did. After the second truck he purchased turned out to be a 'lemon', Andrew got his hands dirty when it came to learning. He began stripping down vehicles to learn the basics, slowing building his knowledge and skills to a level where he now rebuilds trucks to put them on the road. In fact, all of AA Earthworks and Haulage’s fleet of trucks have been built by Andrew and the team.
Andrew and his employee George Williams have just become industry qualified after applying for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) through TAFE Queensland. TAFE Queensland SkillsTech automotive workplace assessor, Ken, visited their workplace and identified the competencies that could be signed off and those needed to be completed to gain a Certificate III in Heavy Vehicle Commercial Technology. Both Andrew and George became qualified in less than three months, with only three gap training units needed out of a total thirty-three.
“The RPL process was simple and easy, and that’s how I got my qualification,” said Andrew. “Ken was a really good instructor, and he really took the time to understand what we do.”
Andrew and George were both able to access Skills Assessment and Gap Training funding which meant their course fees were largely subsidised by the Queensland Government. Andrew said that one of the benefits of becoming qualified is that he can now hire his own apprentices to help further grow AA Earthworks and Haulage. The qualification will also help him further down the line as he moves into the manufacturing side of the truck business.
Andrew strongly recommends that other industry professionals investigate their options when it comes to RPL and getting qualified. “When I first found out that I could become qualified, I thought I didn’t have the time. Now that I know how easy it is, I tell people to just go for it, you’ll be sorry later if you don’t".