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Southbankers commended

26 Oct 2014

Southbankers commended Image

Three Southbank business people were acknowledged on October 1 with a Lord Mayor’s Commendation and Southbank Local News caught up with the recipients to gain an insight into their many years of service to the City of Melbourne.

Lee Tambouras – Triple S Motors
Silver recipient

In 1987, Lee Tambouras and his two partners launched Triple S Motors in a small building on Market St in South Melbourne.

“We were all about 20 years old when we started on Market St and we worked there for about five years,” he said.

“We then moved around the corner to Clarendon St in 1992 and then in 1995 I bought the business off my two partners and been doing it all myself since then.”

It wasn’t until 2010 that the life-long motor mechanic moved the business to its current home at Whiteman St and he said his approach to his trade hadn’t changed in all his years of business.

“I’ve run my business the same since day dot,” he said. “When we were young, we left our employer and started working for ourselves as if we were still working for an employer so none of the rules ever really changed.”

“Customer service was always a big thing because we knew how badly our previous employer did it.”

For as long as he can recount, Lee has always had a passion for motor mechanics and repairing cars.

While his father too was a motor mechanic, he said he truly realized his passion as a kid at school.

“In year 10, I went to a tech-school because I wanted to do automotive and I got the highest mark in the school for that year and it was highest mark in the school ever!” he said.

“98 per cent in automotive, the teacher loved me mate!”

It is that level of commitment to his trade that has never wavered since starting his business.

He said over the years, he had built his business on a belief that no matter how bad the problem – no car was ever beyond repair.

“I’ve got to say I have a lot of customers, with a lot of cars that have a lot of ‘k’s on them because we just keep them going,” he said.

“I don’t care whether it’s a 1950 beetle that comes in here, the work is still the same. I’m still moving my arms, grabbing the tools and swinging the spanners.”

He said to be recognised for his contribution to the community with a Lord Mayor’s Commendation felt great and that his passion for his trade is still just as strong as when he started.

“Just as strong in all areas,” he said. “Not just the cars but if a customer comes in and pays you to do a job, I want to get the job done right.”


Kurt Mechkaroff – Westend Optical Services
Bronze recipient

Having practiced for 20 years now, few can claim the level of experience that Southbank optometrist Kurt Mechkaroff possesses.

As a partner of Eyes On Optometrists, he said he was proud to be involved in the successful Southbank-based business, which has now been an intrinsic part of the Melbourne commercial landscape since 1989.

Having begun practicing in the country, he has now been working at Eyes On Optometrists for four years in what has been a 15-year career with the company and said he still loves working in Southbank.

“It’s actually my favourite practice, it’s a really interesting mix of people. They’re really nice and friendly,” he said.

“Sometimes I almost think it’s like a country practice in the city, people have always got time to chat and I find it just an interesting mix of different people so it’s a good place to work.”

In terms of credentials, few come more qualified than Kurt as well.

On top of his optometry degree, he holds a masters degree in optometry and has completed his therapeutics endorsement for prescribing medication to help treat common eye conditions.

With a particular interest in ocular disease and contact lenses, he said he was proud to be apart of a business that was committed to continuing education and providing the latest in technology and therapeutics.

“I still find it interesting and challenging. It’s a growing profession,” he said. “It’s always changing so it’s a lot of fun.”

While he was unable to accept his commendation in person on the night, he said it was a great initiative of the City of Melbourne, to acknowledge the contribution that small businesses made to the city.

“I think it’s really good particularly with small businesses. It’s a lot tougher now competing against all these large corporate businesses so it’s nice that they’ve actually acknowledged those of us who are still out there and still doing a job.”

Hamish Turner – Classic Cruises
Bronze recipient

Having grown up with a love for historic steamboats, locomotives and steamrollers, Hamish Turner came to Melbourne from Echuca over 10 years ago in a bid to build on his passion.

“I came to Melbourne quite a few years ago and I worked for a company driving their steamboat up and down the Yarra for two and a half years,” he said.

“That all went belly-up for whatever reason and I simply decided that I can do it.”

As the owner of Classic Cruises, Hamish operates the only remaining traditional ferry from Southbank, The Grower, which was built in 1924.

He has been involved in the preservation of heritage boats for many years and he says it’s been hard but rewarding work keeping the 90-year-old vessel in good shape.

“Before we ran out of money completely we bought Grower, which is the boat we run up and down the river every other day and that’s been going for nearly 12 years now,” he said.

“But this boat, she’s kept me going and supports our family and she’s been able to fund her own restoration and quite a few other things.”

Hamish said he is still as passionate about his industry as he was when he first moved to Melbourne and said it was wonderful to be acknowledged for his contribution to the city.

“Boats, steam and tourism is what we’ve done our whole life,” he said.

“I’ve been wearing the little badge around, so it’s good to feel like you’re a part of a bigger picture and you can build on that go for the next medal in a few years time!”

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