Not out: How Brad Taylor’s unexpected career change ended up being his best move yet
Brad Taylor had all the makings of a professional footballer when a series of injuries shattered his AFL dreams. A trade apprenticeship ended up becoming his saving grace, and he’s now been a proud member of the Rail First family for more than 16 years. Our Wagon Maintenance Manager loves the challenge, variety and people he’s found at our Islington Maintenance Facility, and isn’t planning on switching tracks any time soon.
A fork in the road
Brad Taylor thought his path was set after leaving school. But he didn’t count on experiencing a series of life-altering bad luck. A run of hospitalising injuries brought his promising football career to an end, and his subsequent move to a new city saw him being robbed of all his possessions. At a critical crossroads, Brad chose to take a different track.
Besides building character and resilience, Brad learned a critical lesson from these setbacks: the importance of friends you can count on. A good mate inspired him to pursue an apprenticeship as a boilermaker in case he needed something to fall back on. Having lost almost everything but the clothes on his back after a home invasion, Brad returned home, where colleagues from his former job provided him with clothes and tools to help him get back on his feet in Adelaide.
It was one of these colleagues who mentioned that the nearby Rail First Maintenance Facility was hiring, so Brad went to have a look – and started his new job as a boilermaker the next day.
“It just looked like an amazing place to work,” Brad says. “I was keen as mustard to get into it.”
Brad’s learned a lot about himself in his time with Rail First, but perhaps the most important thing is not to underestimate himself.
“I’ve been able to achieve much more than I thought I would. Especially considering my goal was just to be a good tradesman and solid contributor to the business. But every challenge I’ve been thrown, I’ve risen to it, even when I didn’t think I could.
They keep coming and I keep finding a way. The only challenge I haven’t solved yet is our computer system,” Brad laughs, “but I’ve got some good people around me who are much more tech savvy and can help me out if I need it.”
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A real team effort
From starting on the floor building wagons to now leading the team as Wagon Maintenance Manager, Brad has seen many changes since joining us. And every day still brings something different.
“So much has happened over the years. We have had lots of ups and downs, and the global financial crisis was a really tough time. But we got through that and came back stronger which is unbelievable. We’ve changed names and I’ve changed roles, but I’ve enjoyed every part of it. And now, looking back and seeing what I’ve helped develop, I’m really proud of what we’ve done, and I want to keep going. It keeps me coming back every day.”
Brad and his team are kept busy with both internal and external projects, including wagon maintenance and modifications, wagon fabricating, and air brake overhaul. Brad’s experience in a variety of areas has allowed him to progress to his current role as Wagon Maintenance Manager, which he’s been in for the longest part of his journey with Rail First.
“I’ve been lucky with the variety of work I’ve been a part of over the years. From starting off building wagons, moving to maintenance and back again, it’s been great to try new things and develop new skills. As I moved up to supervisor and now manager, it’s been great to see how we’re growing, whether it’s another section or type of work or a new customer. It keeps things exciting, for sure.”
Though Brad loves the variety, he loves the team even more.
“The best part about the job for me has got to be the people I work with – from those who have helped my development to those I’ve helped develop in theirs. I just really enjoy working through the challenges of our job with these guys. We’re great at communicating, knowing what each area needs and sharing our resources so the job gets done.”
Embracing changes and challenges
Even with all the growth Brad has witnessed at Rail First, he knows there’s plenty more to come. And he looks forward to learning and developing his skills as he goes.
“No one’s going to be ripping up the tracks any time soon. The rail industry is growing with new lines being built in a bid to get more trucks off the road. Rail’s always going to be here, and we’re always going to need people. I’d encourage anyone to consider a career in rail – there’ll always be a lot to do and learn.”
With the range of learning opportunities Rail First offers, Brad believes there’s never been a better time to come aboard.
“People come in and know nothing about rail, but we see their skill and willingness to learn and invest time into showing them how it’s done. We can provide hands-on development opportunities in all different areas of the business because it’s not something you’re going to learn in five minutes – it takes years. But we’re committed to finding the right people who like the change and the challenge.”
For those who are looking for their next great challenge, Brad believes there are some essential characteristics that can help you succeed at Rail First.
“Being a good team player and being versatile are definitely important. You also need to be willing to learn and give anything a go because at the end of the day, our ability to deliver a quality product is what keeps our customers coming back.”
Brad feels proud to have been with Rail First through its many challenges and triumphs, but he’s most proud of the people he’s seen join the team and help get Rail First to where it is today. And it’s only going to get bigger and better as more people come aboard.