After four decades working in the Automotive Aftermarket, Chris Philp was recently announced as the new General Manager of EXEDY Australia

Chris Philp

Melbourne-born and bred, Chris grew up in the eastern suburbs, an area that he still calls home today.
Chris openly admits that while he was growing up, he only had a passing interest in cars, but that all changed when his uncle intervened, kicking off what would prove to be one of many defining moments in his long and successful career in the automotive industry.
“I’d just finished Year 11 with no problem, but I knew that I’d run my race at school and was ready to enter the workforce,” Chris said.
Chris took a part-time job and spent six months hanging out with his mates, enjoying life and his newfound freedom, but it wasn’t long before opportunity came knocking.
“My uncle was a mechanic with plenty of experience, so we sat down for a chat, and he helped me explore the potential of becoming an apprentice mechanic,” Chris said.
“I took his advice, got myself into an apprenticeship, loved it and have spent the rest of my life in the industry.”
Chris completed a full mechanical apprenticeship at Transmatic, a specialist automatic transmission workshop in Ringwood.
“I spent a decade at Transmatic and loved every minute of my time there,” Chris said.
“While trade school allowed me to explore other parts of a vehicle, including engines and braking systems, in the workshop my sole focus was automatic transmissions.”
Chris was responsible for looking after customers, managing servicing requirements and rebuilding transmissions and his hard work at Transmatic didn’t go unnoticed, leading to him being rewarded with a promotion to Workshop Manager.
Towards the end of his stint at Transmatic, Chris suffered quite severely from industrial dermatitis. Still, his ability to turn a challenge into an opportunity saw him shift gears and move into sales.

“In my last couple of years on the tools, my hands were a mess,” Chris remarked.
“I remember my boss saying I should be using gloves, but like most young blokes, I thought I was ten foot tall and bulletproof, so I didn’t listen and ended up paying the price.”
While Chris enjoyed the hands-on approach and fixing problems, it was time to look after the hands, and Chris put the feelers out, which landed him in sales.
“I knew I wanted to stay in the automotive industry, so when one of the sales reps from BTR Engineering paid us a visit, I let him know that I had to get off the tools and that I was looking for a new opportunity, and I landed a sales role,” Chris explained.
BTR Engineering was an arm of the BTR factory that built the BTR transmissions in Albury, so it was an excellent fit for Chris.
“It was a very smooth transition, I went for an interview, and they quickly recognised that after ten years on the tools working hands-on on all types of transmissions, I knew my stuff,” Chris said.
Chris spent four valuable years at BTR Engineering – during which time the business was acquired by MotoSpecs – honing his sales and management skills before an opportunity to join EXEDY presented itself.
“That was back in 2001, and at the time, EXEDY was setting up an automatic transmission division, so it was a natural fit for my skills test,” Chris explained.
“They knew I was out and about and presented an attractive offer that was just too good to refuse, so I made the jump and never looked back.”
In a funny turn of events, EXEDY ended up selling off the automatic transmission division. Still, by that time, Chris had well and truly entrenched himself in the business, so he moved into the clutch side of the company.
“Clutches are much simpler than automatic transmissions, so it wasn’t a difficult transition,” Chris remarked.

Fast forward 21 years, and today Chris is reaping the rewards of his hard work and commitment and is excited to drive EXEDY forward as he gets comfortable in his new role as General Manager.
On his way to this new role, Chris undertook a range of roles with EXEDY, building a wealth of experience along the way. After starting as a Sales Rep in 2001, by 2008, Chris found himself in a Sales Account Manager role. From 2009 to 2019, Chris was the EXEDY Sales and Ops manager for Victoria, South Australia, West Australia, Tasmania and the South Pacific, before moving into the National Sales Manager role in 2019.
“When Kabel Davis left EXEDY in 2019, it was a big shift, and we restructured the business,” Chris said.
“Mark Davis moved into the new role as Senior Product Manager, Bruce Shearsmith to Financial Controller, and I was appointed National Sales Manager before taking the position of General Manager in October 2022.”
During his tenure at EXEDY, Chris has seen the business and the product evolve, and Chris is excited about the opportunity to continue to drive the business forward.
“When I stared at EXEDY, it was purely a clutch company, and there has certainly been much progression in clutch technology since the first day I punched my time card at the business,” Chris explained.
“I’ve witnessed the introduction of dual-mass flywheels and solid flywheel conversions, our European range has expanded exponentially, and six years ago, we added the AISIN range to our portfolio.”
While clutches are a feature of the AISIN range, it also includes water pumps, free wheel hubs, fan clutches, and many other OE replacement parts.
“Moving forward, we’re planning to put a greater focus on the AISIN Range, but right now, I’m working hard on growing our Driveline Auto Parts business,” Chris said.
“Driveline is an automatic transmission specialist business, so I guess you could say that my career has come full circle.”
While clutches will remain at the core of the EXEDY business for at least the next decade, Chris and his team are already putting plans in place to ensure the company is prepared for the evolution of Australia’s complex car parc.
“We know clutches won’t be around forever, so we are investing heavily to grow the Driveline business, to secure our longevity,” said Chris.

Driveline Auto Parts supplies automatic transmission and service parts directly to transmission workshops, a distribution model that is very familiar to EXEDY, as it reflects the distribution model for its clutch business.
“Just like you have your break and clutch specialists, there are also automatic transmission specialists,” Chris explained.
“You don’t take your late-model Volkswagen Golf to a general mechanic to get the transmission fixed. They just don’t have the expertise. You take it to an automatic transmission specialist, and that’s the market that Driveline services.”
As we emerge from the global COVID-19 pandemic, Chris has flagged that building and nurturing corporate culture based on respect and understanding is now more critical than ever.
“If we are sincere, many businesses are still transitioning out of lock-down, and we are amongst them,” Chris said.
“I’m critically aware that in my new role as General Manager, it’s my responsibility to ensure our company culture is healthy and continues to evolve.”
Chris mentioned that he has been studying Ubuntu and can see that it will be a valuable tool to help him fortify the team.
“Ubuntu is an ancient African word meaning ‘humanity to others.’ It often reminds us that ‘I am what I am because of who we all are,’” Chris explained.
“When I first came across the Ubuntu philosophy, it resonated. When you apply it in a business setting, in essence, it means that no matter where you are in that structure, there’s no way you can do your job without those around you.
“While I’ve only been in my new role for a short time, I’ve already started introducing this philosophy to our team. It has been warmly received and has already positively affected our corporate culture.”
After getting to know Chris better, we’re under no doubt EXEDY is in good hands and set to continue to prosper.

To find out more about EXEDY, visit www.exedy.com.au