Lance and Joe share Rare Spares' proud history and culture

Published on 03 April 2021

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We sat down with Rare Spares Managing Director Lance Corby and Director of Sales for RSP Automotive Industrial (which has the Rare Spares brand under its umbrella) Joe Xuereb to find out a little bit more about the naming rights sponsor of the 2021 Rare Spares Rockynats.

Lance, tell us about the history of the company

The company was first registered back in 1977 when the two founders John Rayner and Les McVeigh sold new and secondhand bits and pieces for FJ Holdens.

They were FJ freaks and they literally scoured the country for secondhand parts (in the pre-Internet days).

They started off in a small factory in Reservoir in Melbourne which expanded to three factories sitting beside each other before the business moved to a much larger and more visible space in Brunswick in 1981.

The operation was primarily run on cash flow; the owners took very little out of the business and threw everything they earned back in.

Did they have trouble sourcing stock?

As time went on and the old stock started to dry up, they thought they had better start manufacturing parts themselves or it wouldn’t be long before cars wouldn’t be able to be restored.

That really took off in 1982 when the company teamed up with one of its major suppliers to make quarter vent rubbers and door and windscreen seals and everything that people needed to seal up their cars.

Then came a lot of development in rust replacement sections – new floor panels, new guard sections - so people could patch their cars, because back then it wasn’t viable to tool up to make complete panels.

Even today rust replacement sections are a big part of our business, as are our big range of rubber and plastic parts, plastic injection and so forth.

What about the deal you guys struck with Holden?

We teamed up with Holden to provide new replacement parts for their service centres and that side of our business grew so much that we started supplying to Ford, Nissan, Mazda, Mitsubishi and others with genuine replacement parts that we made for them to specification.

And we were able to source some old tooling from Holden just before the company was dismantled.

We have a large inventory of their old tools and a licence with them which falls under our HRP restoration program.

Joe, tell us about a recent expansion in the company.

We’ve just opened another store in Slacks Creek in Brisbane that stocks over 10,000 parts, so we’re continuing to welcome good people to the Rare Spares family.

The boss Lance has been with the company 40 years. Do you have many long-term staff?

Absolutely. We make sure our people are looked after and want to stay with us, which grows a terrific workplace culture and a great bank of experience which will continue long into the future.

In fact, we have a lot of families – fathers, sons, daughters, wives - amongst our 80 staff nationally, which is another reason we retain people who are dedicated and want to help us keep growing.

You have two trade stands in the CBD, how are they going?

Both stands are flat out and it’s all going great – particularly as it’s the first Rockynats and the first event of this kind for the city.

But it was a close call to have everything set up on time. We originally had stock that was going through our Brisbane branch to arrive here on Tuesday, but the Greater Brisbane lockdown kicked in and we had to make other arrangements.

In the middle of it all our pallets somehow got sent to Melbourne by mistake so we had to find a freight company that could get them out of Victoria and here on time. Thankfully we found Gladrock Transport which delivered the goods within 12 hours.

Our team unloaded pallets at midnight using a forklift from council and a pallet trolley from the local pub. We cut it fine, and we had some hurdles to jump along the way, but we couldn’t be happier to be here and associated with this great event.

The 2021 Rare Spares Rockynats is presented by Rockhampton Regional Council, Naming Rights Sponsor Rare Spares and supporting precinct and event sponsors.