General Manager of L&M Radiator’s Australia location, Richard Chapell is a leading example of what a career with L&M Radiator promises: growth, opportunity, and success.
Perth, Australia – Since L&M Radiator opened its Australian production facility in 1972, there have been a handful of employees who have witnessed the steady growth and development of the company’s operations in the Asian-Pacific region. Richard Chapell is one of them.
Forty-five years ago, Richard Chapell joined the L&M Radiator Australia team as a junior draftsman, one of just 18 employees at the company. Now? As the general manager of L&M’s Australia location, Chapell has taken part in the company’s impressive growth and success over its 50-plus years. From the progression of its skyrocketing sales numbers to its dependable, word-of-mouth recommendations that made L&M a household name in the mining industry – Chapell has seen it all.
Before moving into the position of general manager of L&M Radiator’s Australian operations, Chapell held a number of different positions at L&M. First, for eight years, Chapell was a junior draftsman working with production to sketch replacement cores – L&M Radiator’s bread and butter.
“We were a young company getting going, so it was a mix of roles that I did. Besides being a draftsman, I helped work on the floor with the new engineers,” said Chapell. “I also used to get sent on the road by the manager at the time. I started to work as a sales representative and represented the company on the road.”
After working in production and sales, Chapell spent four years working in quality control before moving on to become a production manager. Within his eight years in that position, the company’s sales numbers began to increase, proving L&M’s quality against its competitors.
“At that time, I helped bring the company from a single shift to working two shifts, as we were right in the middle of a lot of expansion. We grew from a small $6 million company to a $13 million company fairly quickly, and then up into the $20 million turnover,” said Chapell. “Then we worked three shifts for a period in time to keep up as we were expanding and wanting to get the most out of our equipment. Then, after production manager, I was given the opportunity to be the general manager, and I have been the general manager of the plant ever since.”
Leading the Legacy by Example
Fast forward 30 years, Chapell has remained a steady and reliable component in L&M’s successful worldwide operations. His admirable leadership skills and “old school” approach to his management style as general manager help keep his employees happy and busy with their work.
“I like to move around the shop floor and talk to people. I greet them during the day and speak to them, make sure that everything’s going well in their job and they haven’t got any issues that they’d like us to address,” said Chapell. With an open-door policy, Chapell is adamant on keeping his work environment friendly and supportive for all.
A typical day in the life of Chapell consists of making sure his people are happy in their roles and working efficiently. With growing budgets and goals to achieve, Chapell works hard at building strong relationships with internal working units and keeping up to date with sales and the sales teams.
Over the years, as L&M Radiator has continued to expand and grow into the industry leader it is today, opportunities for aspiring workers have arisen along with it. Having grown in and through the company, Chapell can attest of the many chances there are to succeed at L&M. Many people start off as employees on the floor, who then move on to be supervisors, team leaders, and department managers.
“The greatest asset of this company are its people. The product is a great product, but you can’t build it without good people. And those good people have to run from the top to the bottom,” said Chapell. “It’s a family orientated company, and it’s always been that way. On the floor, there is a friendly atmosphere. We have had people leave and come back because it’s such a good company to work for and a good, close-knit unit. I’m pretty proud of that.”
Additionally, the L&M location in Australia collaborates with the trades in offering an apprentice program in its welding and machines shops. More times than not, these apprentices find their way back to L&M and secure a job at the company. This is just one of the ways that L&M Radiator shows respect and support for everybody who is a part of the team.
“In the early years, it was a challenge. We were a very small company. We were always growing. Milestones are terrific to have because they keep you challenged,” said Chapell. “I was there when we had our first million-dollar year. So, a $5 million month means a lot more to me than it does to some people. But it’s amazing to see how the people around me get excited about that milestone being reached as well.”
Though growth comes with its fair share of challenges, Chapell is never one to stray away from growing pains. Outside of work, you can find Chapell working on keeping his impressive 1957 Chevrolet Thunderbird (T-Bird) running. Whenever he gets the chance, Chapell trades his wrench for good old-fashioned fishing rod and hits the ocean to go saltwater fishing for mackerel and snappers.
“I think fighting the fish using the rod is half the fun. If the fish wins, I’ve got just as big a smile on my face as if I got them to the boat and we land them,” said Chapell.
No matter if he’s tuning up his T-Bird, casting away into Australia’s crystal waters, or leading the L&M Radiator Australia team to success, you can always count on Chapell to never shy away from a task. He’s here for the long run, offering unwavering support and guidance for those who follow in his footsteps.
Meet the L&M Radiator Team
Interested in a career at L&M Radiator? Visit our Careers page for more information.
For more stories similar to this one, visit The Mesabi Exchange.