A Man and His Van, removalists, Old Pittwater Road, Brookvale. Bob Comport, works as removalist, pictured in the back of the van loading boxes Picture by Jim Trifyllis.
After six years as a removalist, Bob Comport knows all the tricks of the trade. Squeezing large four-seater couches through tight stairwells? No problem. Bulky bed frames through tiny doors? Easy. But he also knows that some things just won’t fit. “We moved one guy into a penthouse apartment and he had a large outside furniture set. We had to hire a cherry picker and hoist it up over the top of the building,” he says.
Comport, who works for Brookvale-based removal company A Man and His Van, enjoys these challenges. “It’s not as boring or mundane as some people think,” he says. “I really like the variety — every house you go to is different; you have to get your brain into gear to work out the best way to do things. I’m a keen surfer as well, and because of the variation of work, every now and then I’ll have a short day, which means I can go and have a surf.”
Comport originally worked in IT in the UK. He started working in removals when he came to Australia and found he enjoyed it. But as many clients soon discover, there is an art to being a good removalist. “You do need to learn how to do it properly,” he says. “Injury is a major concern. “Many husbands are happy to get stuck into helping us with the offloads at first, but you generally find that after about 20 minutes, they find a really important job they have to do, like tuning the television.”
There are numerous courses offered at TAFE to prepare for a career in the removals industry, ranging from a Certificate II to a Certificate IV in Transport and Distribution. The courses teach skills such as how to drive different sized trucks, pack and unpack loads and maintain your vehicle. Occupational health and safety, communication and customer service skills are also taught. Courses can be done as part of a traineeship, which provides exposure to the industry while studying. To boost your employability, you can also become a registered removalist with the Australian Furniture Removal Association.
While being fit is a must, Comport says brawn is not necessarily best. “We’ve had guys start with us that are pretty big builds, who are strong, but for some reason don’t have the technique or the co-ordination,” he says. “You’ve also got to have the right attitude. We’ll know within a couple of days if someone is keen or lazy.” Comport says many clients are surprised he can endure such constant physical work.
“It’s really not that bad,” he says. “You become used to it. It’s like anything, if you do it every day then it’s not an issue. You get to meet different people every day and get to see different parts of Sydney as well.”
LOVE YOUR WORK
How did you get into your job: It wasn’t a conscious decision. I was looking for work and I wanted to work outside. When I started I found I really enjoyed it.
Upside: Working in a different place every day, physical work and being outdoors.
Downside: You can meet people who are pretty unreasonable. Often it’s not the clients, but people who don’t want the truck parked near their driveway.
By Aimee Brown, The Daily Telegraph, August 14, 2006.