From superbikes to FM superstar: Marty Craggill
Marty Craggill was one of Australia’s top professional motorcyclists, winning the country’s Superbike Championship twice in a storied career, and riding in the US for a decade, before the GFC hit in 2008 and the sport took a definite body blow. “Motorcycling is a luxury, so that sort of stopped,” he recalls. “Sponsorship stopped.” He had a contract to go back, but unlike many in his the sport took a definite body blow. “Motorcycling is a luxury, so that sort of stopped,” he recalls. “Sponsorship stopped.” He had a contract to go back, but unlike many in his position, he found himself with a more enticing option.
Living near Melbourne Airport, Craggill, who’s a boilermaker/ship maker by trade, wanted to keep busy in the off-season and began doing some welding for an electrician. This brought him into contact with the head of facilities, who was struggling with an unreliable maintenance company. “He was having problems getting a local guy to turn up to fix a door, and I said to him, ‘I can probably help you out with that.’ So I fixed the door and then he had a problem with a window. I said, ‘I could probably help you with that too’,” recalls Craggill.
Flash forward to 2016 and Craggill’s company Maz Maintenance has serviced multi-site child care centres, corporate and commercial offices and facilities, and gone from to Lufthansa Teknik Qantas (LTQ) to servicing Virgin Australia, and now handles all the trades for the airline at its Melbourne Terminal 3 and jet base – electrical, plumbing, painting, carpentry, flooring… you name it.
He has a staff of nine and a regular crew of about 40 subcontractors, mostly men he has met through his racing career, as motorbikes and tradesmen frequently go hand in hand. The business has been very successful, surprisingly quickly, and he believes much of that success is due to the strong relationship he has with his workers. “They’re very reliable because there’s mutual respect there. We’ve all got something in common. And if somebody works for us, they get paid before I get paid. And they love that. So when I call on people, they’re there for me.”
Now he’s looking to expand his operations and move into the FM arena.
“I just think it’s a natural progression,” he says. “I’ve worked with so many big FM companies and I know I do a really good job.” There are a raft of things he has to offer, not the least of which is an ability to “get rid of the layers”. “There are too many layers of people involved in getting something done,” he explains. “We have to have systems in place where we can log what the guys are doing, we can track them via GPS, we can track their time, we can make sure that they’re doing the job in the way we expect.”
“There are too many layers of people involved in getting something done,” he explains. “We have to have systems in place where we can log what the guys are doing, we can track them via GPS, we can track their time, we can make sure that they’re doing the job in the way we expect.”
What other invaluable skills has he been able to transfer from his motorcycling experience to his current career? “Communication and working with a team up and down the line,” he stresses. “And listening to people who you need to listen to. I had to listen to engineers about what was going on with the bike, because if you’re trying to improve a bike, if you go two-tenths of a second a lap quicker, you’re going to win a race, but if you don’t listen to the engineers and your team…well, it just doesn’t work.”
Craggill is also well-known for transparency and saying what he thinks. “Anyone can say they’re honest, but once I get a client and they actually see that I say what I do and do what I say – which most people don’t – that is a huge strength.”
And the fact that he won the Superbikes Championship not once, but twice, means you tend to believe him when he says: “I don’t want to be the biggest company, I want to be the best.
“I don’t want to be national, I only really want to be based in Victoria,” he explains. “That’s why I was so driven with motorcycle racing, to become one of the best in the world – I just want to be the best at what I do. And I’ll do whatever it takes.”
To make sure of this, he’s the one that’s still at work in the early hours. “If on a job, something goes wrong and I’ve got to stay up through the night until four o’clock in the morning to make sure it’s right to go the next day, I do that. We get that stuff done, that’s why we’ve had a lot of success at the airport.”
It also means that safety is always top of mind. “A lot of it comes back down to bike racing,” says Craggill. “When you do that for a living, it’s highly dangerous and you get a really good eye for things not being right. We’ve got our ISO accreditation for safety, and for the environment and for quality.”
Of course, like any rider worth his salt, it didn’t always go to plan on the racetrack and his career has left him with about 30 metal pins in his body. Does this mean he sets off all the alarms every time he goes to work at the airport? “Yes!” he laughs, “but they know me by now…”