Up Dog Diesel goes back to tyre fitting basics

Up Dog Diesel trainee Curtis Lake. Image: Up Dog Diesel.

Up Dog Diesel may be a new kid on the block, but owner Dwane Johnson brings two decades of heavy tyre fitting experience and plans to mentor the next generation of fitters.

Dwane Johnson launched Up Dog Diesel in October 2018, drawing on 20 years of working around tyres, including 16 in the mining industry, dating back to his late teens.

With his wealth of experience, Sunshine Coast-based Johnson’s approach is that of a small, local company with the skills and workers to provide a nation-wide service.

Having worked all over Australia and learned from some of the best in the field, Johnson wants to pass this knowledge on to the next generation of heavy tyre fitters.

The company’s first move in this direction has been to take on two trainees, Jacob Farlow and Curtis Lake, to complete their Certificate III in Heavy Tyre Fitting under Johnson’s watchful eye.

“I’ve worked in the industry all across Australia and really taken the best of what each place was doing,” Johnson tells Australian Mining.

“Some places will have excellent maintenance strategies in place to optimise tyre life, but some fall down on the way they instruct people to go about performing maintenance duties.”

Johnson’s biggest focus throughout his career has been on safely performing tasks, as reflected by Up Dog Diesel’s Zero Harm Complaint status, having not had a single reportable incident since being founded.

However, Johnson feels some modern training doesn’t cover all of the elementary but essential lessons he has learned.

“I draw on a lot of the ways I was trained, so what we’re offering is a more back to basics style of training,” he explains.

“It seems like the way people train these days they are missing some of the bigger hazards because they’re too focussed looking for the little ones, which you absolutely have to, but in the light of incidents recently, a lot of these issues are caused by big, obvious, major hazards.

“Basically, everyone should be able to come home safely from work no matter what you do for a job.”

With Up Dog Diesel based in a strategic position to service the Bowen Basin coal region, Johnson knows firsthand how dangerous the job can be and the need for rigorous training.

In the past year alone, two tyre fitters have been fatally injured on the job in Queensland and New South Wales.

While Johnson helped trainees in one of his previous mining jobs, this will be his first time overseeing the Certificate III in Heavy Tyre Fitting from start to finish.

In addition to training Up Dog Diesel’s trainees to complete the job to the company’s high standards, Johnson also plans to offer them the job prospects he enjoyed for a rewarding career in an industry he loves.

“To be able to give people an opportunity in the industry and to give them quality training, knowing they or someone else is not going to get hurt, is one of the reasons I love my job,” Johnson says.

“I love the challenges in this industry and seeing the results of our work, I don’t get up in the morning and go ‘ugh, I have to go to work’, I definitely love it.”

Up Dog Diesel owner Dwane Johnson. Image: Up Dog Diesel.

Some of Johnson’s favourite work experiences include developing maintenance schedules for trucks for pressure maintenance and providing trucking clients with schedule management advice.

Johnson started his career with tyre giant Bob Jane after he completed high school.

He then worked his way up through the automotive industry, with stops at a busy tyre shop in bustling Brisbane, through South Australia and back to Queensland, albeit this time in regional Mt Isa.

Johnson moved into the mining industry when his wife noticed an advertisement for a tyre fitter in Western Australia and he hasn’t looked back since.

“When I started out and for many years of my career, I was just changing tyres,” he says.

“These days, I look after every aspect there is to running a tyre bay and managing tyres on a mine site.”

Looking ahead, Johnson is focussed on Up Dog Diesel winning more contracts, in anything from basic mining vehicle tyre services and advice to ending the timing of the tyre bay.

Johnson’s plan for his team, which includes tyre fitter Michael Huet and the two new trainees Farlow and Lake, is to prioritise quality over quantity and provide clients with the best service and knowledge at the best prices.

Up Dog Diesel may be small, but Johnson has major ambitions for the business.

“I can offer the industry a wealth of knowledge from my staff and in the long term I can see this team definitely having the potential and capability to get projects anywhere in Australia,” Johnson concludes.

This article also appears in the March edition of Australian Mining.

One of Up Dog Diesel’s new trainees Jacob Farlow. Image: Up Dog Diesel.

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