The apprentice panel beater and 2020 House graduate from Doomadgee was joined by his mum Rosie, and AMA Group Northern Queensland Area Manager Martin Dickinson, as they travelled to Melbourne for the prestigious industry awards ceremony.
A proud Waanyi and Ganggalidda man, Eli joined AMA Group as a year-11 school-based apprentice in 2019 before extending his commitment to a full-time apprenticeship following completion of his secondary schooling.
With goals to one day open and operate his own business in his home community where he can train, upskill and employ others, Eli is following in the footsteps of his family who share the same passion for automotives back home.
Speaking to this year’s graduates at the NRL Cowboys House awards night and graduation, Eli encouraged the student cohort by sharing his story of success.
“The hard work pays off at the end of the day; ever since I finished school and NRL Cowboys House I got up every day, did the same routine and just knuckled down,” he said.
“You get to the point where you have to get out there; (I know) it’s me out there by myself and I have people who will support me, but at the end of the day it’s all you.
“If you’re going into a workplace, work hard and always ask for help. This is why I’m where I am right now and I’ve got two trophies of my own from work.”
Topping the list of finalists from Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia, Eli’s achievements cap off a big year for AMA Group, who were recognised with finalists across several categories at this year’s National Body Shop Awards.
Eli’s employer, Gemini Accident Repair Centre Townsville, was a finalist in the Community and Social Responsibility category.
AMA Group has a long-standing and hands-on partnership with NRL Cowboys House with a shared vision to create pathways to further education and employment for students in their preferred careers.
A driving force behind that partnership, AMA Group Northern Queensland Area Manager Martin Dickinson, who was Eli’s first manager when he started at Gemini, himself won the One AMA Award in the AMA Group Awards just days before Eli’s accolade.
That award acknowledged Martin’s role in supporting NRL Cowboys House, and the expansion of AMA Group’s community support through the Queensland region where he volunteers outside his work commitments.
He was also recognised for supporting people both in and out of the workplace, providing advice and emotional support that embodies AMA Group values.
Described as a manager who puts his own team member first, Martin said apprentice Eli’s work ethic and drive is at the forefront of everything he does.
“Eli has been fully committed through this journey,” Martin said.
“He’s always respectful and has progressed rapidly through the years, to the point where he is now able to do all the main basics of a tradesman, with two years still left in his apprenticeship.
“He has a bright future as a leader in the collision repair industry.”