Features 21 Feb 2017

Industry Insight: KTM Australia's Jeff Leisk

KTM Australia general manager on moving operations from Perth to Sydney.

KTM Australia has recently relocated its operations in Australia from one side of the country to the other. Along with subsidiary company Husqvarna, the move comes after 23 years in the west and when the final touches are put on everything the Australian and New Zealand distributor of Europe’s biggest motorcycle manufacturer will be based in the heart of Sydney’s south-west growth centre. We caught up with general manager Jeff Leisk who has been heading operations since 1994 to find out what has been involved in the move and what that means for KTM and Husqvarna brands in Australia.

Source: Supplied.

Things have gotten a bit bigger at KTM since you started, haven’t they?

I started with KTM in 1994 and back then it was a dirtbike focus with a few models in the range. At that time when AHG (Automotive Holdings Group) took it over the first order for that year was about 400 bikes. Now the combined market of KTM and Husky is pushing around 12,000 units.

Why the move from Perth to Sydney?

The idea was to get everything underneath the one roof. It’s been a long time in the making with a few false starts but we finally now have got everything together. Up until this point we have been all over the place with sales reps everywhere, race team in Western Sydney and people over in Perth. It was getting hard to communicate what you want to do and manage things correctly. This area of Sydney is also one of, if not, the biggest growth centre in Australia.

How convenient is this location for KTM?

The location to do what we want to do is pretty good. If you want to find some dirt you can find it pretty easily. For distribution it is an ideal point with the road network around here. The hotel next door will come in handy when we bring the dealers in so they can just walk next door and do whatever they have to do here.

How many staffers have made the move across the country?

We don’t really have many people at all coming across from Perth. There will be three coming across to Sydney and the rest are being recruited here. We will be closing our Perth office around midyear. It’s a big ask coming across to the other side of the country, and I wasn’t expecting many more really. We have 36 people that work for us across the two brands but in terms of office-based people there are more like 20 people.

Is it hard work finding the right people for the jobs?

We have good support through parent company AHG with an HR department and recruiters which lessens the burden. The last few weeks have been busy interviewing and recruiting candidates. Positions like marketing, spare parts interpreters, financial controller, admin all needed to be filled. It’s been good – very encouraging with good candidates and I know we will get good people together.

Image: Matt Shields (Foremost Media).

Tell us about this new facility.

This is a new building and there’s still a bit of work to do around the office putting up partitions and the like. As you can see the rest of the facility has conference rooms for things like dealer meetings and media events. There is an area where we will do tech training and that will accomodate twelve techs at once.

What sort of things are you teaching in tech training?

The first training in here will be in March and then again in May. There’s a couple of new things KTM are implementing and in this day and age diagnostics with electronics are very important so there’ll be a strong focus on that.

The race workshop is coming in-house too?

There are 13 bays in the workshop for KTM and Husqvarna racing with one of those bays for press vehicles. Between the two brands there are quite a lot of models to take care of – conservatively there are around 80 different models. Not that we test all of them, but a fare proportion of them. On a big weekend of racing nearby we can easily accomodate a few teams here and there are also wash bays and a new dyno room.

Will spare parts distribution be coming out of here as well?

Our spare parts will distributed out of Sydney eventually and will come out of Perth for a little while longer. There’s a lot more racking to come to fill out the space and there’ll be a some automotive and truck spares for AHG’s businesses but the bikes will be stored here too.

So what’s next on the horizon?

We have a lot going on in terms of new models this year. We are also hosting the Asia Pacific launch for the new Adventure range. We’ll be using the same route that we will use for the Adventure Rallye. There’s some really great product coming from KTM and Husqvarna – both mid-term and down the track. Some of our competitors in the market have already made plays in certain areas of the market and when we look at what we’ve got coming we feel very confident and positive with what is in store.