OIL RUNNING THROUGH HIS VEINS
Valvoline’s Geoff Newson has been working in the automotive oil industry for his entire career
Like the guy on the Haymes Paints adverts who used to claim, “he had paint running through his veins,” Valvoline Australia’s Sales and Marketing Director, Geoff Newson, could claim his heart was pumping pure oil.
His career has been constantly linked with the black stuff, right from his first job as a youngster pumping petrol at a local Mobil service station.
Born in the New South Wales regional center of Gosford, his family moved to country Victoria before heading to the big smoke of Melbourne.
“My father worked in a bank, so we moved around quite a bit when I was younger. I attended Monash University and RMIT to attain my professional qualifications,” Geoff explains.
His love of all things with wheels goes back a long way.
“When I was still at school and worked in the Mobil petrol station, I used to tinker with cars in my spare time. The petrol station had a double bay workshop, so it was quite handy to utilise the hoist from time to time when business was slow,” Geoff enthuses.
He believes the experience gained in the petrol station from such a young age gave him a great grounding in customer service, which is something he still draws on today.
“Providing full driveway service was great experience in dealing with the motoring public and learning firsthand the virtues of great customer service,” he says.
After returning from the Aussie ‘rite of passage’ European backpacking trip at the age of 26, Geoff landed a role at Caltex as a trainee in 1987 and made up his mind that his career would be in automotive.
“Certainly by the time I moved to Valvoline in 1995 I knew I would stay in the oil and automotive industry for a long time,” he admits.
“Pretty amazingly I have always worked in the oil industry in one form or another. I managed a few petrol stations while studying and used to chat to the oil company reps and thought I wouldn’t mind having a crack at that type of role one day.
“After graduating I decided to apply for a few sales positions at various oil companies and eventually got lucky. It is amazing how the industry gets into your system and you become addicted to it.”
Geoff believes that a move to Sydney in 1997 to take up a role as National Sales Manager was the turning point in his career.
“That presented some great opportunities and has given me great experiences in Valvoline, including five years setting up the company’s South East Asia business and involvement in the greater International Valvoline business,” he explains.
However, he also describes that decision as the toughest he has ever had to make.
“Moving to Sydney and living in a city with no extended family was tough. It has been hard at times living away from family, but the reality is you need to make sacrifices to get ahead sometimes,” he says.
“For the last 23 years I have lived in Sydney after accepting that promotion. The family love living in Sydney and it is now home for us.
“I have been blessed to have a great family and my wife Leanne has been a great support to me. I also have two fabulous children, Kate and Matthew, who are now in their late 20s. They all mean the world to me – we spend time together whenever we can, and I look forward to those catch-ups.”
Geoff does not spend as much time as he used to tinkering with cars these days, but he does enjoy getting to the track to see some car racing or even a bit of horse racing.
“I do like going to both forms of racing on weekends. I love all sport, as well as exercise, cooking and socialising and I try to maintain a healthy balance of them all,” he enthuses.
Geoff is a strong believer of having a ‘can do’ attitude.
“I think it is vital to being successful in business,” he says.
He lists his greatest strength as his ability to relate to people no matter what their background may be.
“I am always interested in hearing their story and finding some common ground,” he said.
“I also think I am very perceptive to new ideas and I love to chase opportunities in the marketplace. I like to delegate where possible and back my people in. I trust them to get the job done.
“I equally believe that team unity is very important and try to ensure people are pulling in the same direction. As a leader you should always have an eye on team morale and effective teamwork if you want the team to be successful.”
His advice to youngsters trying to break into the industry is not to be scared to start from the bottom and work your way up.
“The experience you gain in doing that is invaluable. If you keep working hard and learning you will eventually achieve your goals in life,” he said.
Valvoline – trusted in Australia and around the world
In 1866 Dr John Ellis developed the world’s first petroleum-based lubricant for steam engines. The excellent lubricating properties of this product gained a quick reputation, and Ellis’ oil was soon being used in steam engines across the United States.
Even though Valvoline lubricants had in the United States for close to 40 years, it was not until the early 1900s that Valvoline became widely used in automobiles of the day. When it became the recommended oil for use in the Ford Model T, the world’s first mass production car, it was catapulted to the status of a household name.
As word of Valvoline’s quality products grew, so too did its demand in countries outside of the US. The first Valvoline oil came to Australia’s shores in 1901 in wooden barrels and the brand quickly became a staple in Australian engines and culture.
With over a century of experience, Valvoline is now a leading supplier of quality automotive products and services to the Australian market. Today, Valvoline Australia employs over 300 people; has six major branches and 19 regional distributors; has a sales team based in every state and territory; and delivers quality products to customers across the entirety of Australia.
Valvoline says that as a lubricants business, it has the product to suit vehicles in the Australian market, no matter the make or model. The company states it produces a range of engine, transmission and gear oils as well as coolants, chemicals and car care products for virtually every vehicle, piece of machinery or equipment in the Australian market.
The retail market was the first channel for Valvoline products when the business initially launched into Australia in 1901. In 1960, Valvoline expanded its business model to service the ever-changing needs of the automotive aftermarket servicing landscape and continues to supply workshops as well as all major automotive retailers today.
Valvoline explains that its mission is to provide hands-on service for customers with innovative, operationally proven solutions that add significant value to their business.
It claims it provides all its business partners with top-notch solutions, which are backed up by excellent customer service, great logistics and a technical department that can help find a lubricant solution.
As America’s first branded engine oil, Valvoline says it has been trusted in engines around the world for over 150 years. It also introduced the world’s first racing oil, the world’s first high mileage oil, and the world’s first synthetic blend.
From the outset Valvoline says it has been an R&D focused company with the willingness and ability to adjust its product offer to the changing characteristics of the lubricant market.
Further, as a well-resourced lubricant supplier, Valvoline says it can call on the global expertise of the Valvoline business to deliver products and solutions to satisfy customer needs and offer a full-service model to all workshops including products, service and technology.
Valvoline says its biggest challenge will always lie ahead and as such it is focusing on ensuring it continues to deliver the products and services needed by the Australian automotive industry now and in the future.
As the inventor of engine oil, Valvoline states it still needs to maintain a lot of innovation and the ability to meet the needs of an evolving lubricant market and claims this is the biggest attribute that has made it such a successful company.
Contributing to this successful foundation has been a portfolio of products that meet OEM requirements, whatever the application, backed up by an enthusiastic sales force dedicated to making the businesses of Valvoline customers more successful with operationally proven solutions.
For more information, visit www.valvoline.com.au