Steven Smith of Smith Brothers Auto at their workshop on Brisbane Street.
Steven Smith of Smith Brothers Auto at their workshop on Brisbane Street. David Nielsen

Auto alley revs up after floods

NUMBER 33 Brisbane St, Ipswich, is better known as “auto alley” and is home to a number of automotive businesses.

The automotive industry is not all they have in common; each business was severely impacted by the devastating floods in January this year. Three of these businesses are getting back to business.

Steven Smith and brother Nicholas started Smith Brothers’ Auto and Performance in November last year.

“We specialise in suspension, steering, exhaust and general mechanical work. I am a wheel alignment specialist and recognised as one of the best in Queensland,” Steven said.

“I had just started to see the business grow and then this (the floods) meant no income and a brand new business stopped.

“We lost the office furniture, the tiles and even a new workbench that had a walnut top that cannot be replaced,” he said.

Faced with no income and massive repair work, Steven Smith turned to support from the business loans and Centrelink payments being offered. “I need this help to get back on our feet and I encourage any business owner to seek the full help that is available to get back to operating fully,” Steven said.

“I have had one of the busiest days since last year so it gives you a boost to see the work coming back.”

Warwick Martin, from Pearls Radiator, Mechanical and Auto Air Conditioning, and Martin Sangster from Ipswich Automatics have also suffered significant damage to their businesses.

Mr Martin said he was working at about 70% capacity.

“We can do most jobs now but we lost some major equipment so that is holding us up,” he said.

Landlord Tom Hutton was hailed by tenants as “just fantastic” as he worked hard to assist everyone to get equipment out, storing it at his home.

Mr Sangster had his back wall blown out by water build-up which he described as a “water explosion”. He lost everything – equipment and stock.

“I expect to be fully operational this week – we are doing small jobs at the moment,” he said.

Mr Martin said his business was celebrating 50 years of operation this year. “We are young and will get back. It has forced us to clean up and even change things around to make it work even more efficiently so that is a plus,” he said.

The bottom end of town is determined to get on with business, too, and Janelle Roberts, owner of Ultimate Image Tattooing, has been organising a street party to let people know they are back in business and to say thank you to the many people who have helped. She lost everything herself and expects to be back in business in two weeks.



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