Rhonda Kelly Celebrates 4-Decade Career at Burson Auto Parts

Rhonda Kelly Celebrates 4-Decade Career at Burson Auto Parts 

Only one other person has held this distinguished record at the company.

It was 1980 when an enthusiastic and determined 18-year-old by the name of Rhonda Kelly joined one of the first Burson Auto Parts stores located in the Melbourne suburb of Braybrook as a parts delivery driver. She found out about this role through her sister Lyn, who is still with the company. Her car was a Holden Gemini panel van that had a large and distinctive blue “B” on the side, which at the time was the first Burson Auto Parts company logo.

There were two relatively short breaks in her Burson Auto Parts career, the first when their son Phillip was born (he is now 38 years old) and then with the arrival of their daughter Caitlin who is now 31 years of age. During this period, Rhonda briefly left Burson Auto Parts to work for one of her customers in the field of credit control.

The offer to return to Burson Auto Parts came from Devon Sproul, who was the Altona store manager at that time. This welcomed Rhonda back to the company, but this time working behind the counter, learning how to successfully run a store. 

In all, Rhonda’s incredible career with Burson Auto Parts has totaled almost 40 years, placing her in a very exclusive club occupied by just one other person, the now retired General Manager of Purchasing, Andrew Schram, whose tenure also extended across four decades with this Australian company. It is interesting to note that when Rhonda started at one of the first Burson Auto Parts stores in Braybrook, Andrew Schram was her store manager.

Aside from Rhonda’s first nine years spent delivering parts to customers and establishing great customer relationships, the rest of her career has been spent behind the counter, working her way to becoming one of the longest serving Burson Auto Parts store managers, starting her journey at the West Melbourne store before an offer to take the reigns of  the newly established Hoppers Crossing store, where she would spend the next 25 years.

In terms of career highlights, Rhonda points out that she had never really been anywhere before joining Burson Auto Parts. Her first interstate and international trips came with the company, attending conferences and training events, going everywhere from Castlemaine Gaol to Thailand and Las Vegas. 

Rhonda also highlights the amazing people she has been fortunate enough to work with throughout her career who have helped her on her very special Burson Auto Parts journey. 

While being a trailblazer of her own in terms of automotive industry based female management identities, Rhonda takes pride in seeing so many talented females reaching senior levels of company management. 

This became particularly evident as Burson Auto Parts grew into Bapcor, the largest automotive aftermarket specialized company in Australasia. 

“It has been an incredible journey that I have enjoyed immensely over the past four decades and while we were unsure where it was all headed when Bapcor was established, it has made this Aussie company become so much bigger while retaining the culture that has made it such a great place to work for so long,” Rhonda stated.

“Along with this growth, I am very proud and pleased to see the caliber of female talent that we have in the company today. I am sure that they will be playing a big part in the company’s future,” Rhonda added.

Rhonda was honored with her induction to the Burson Auto Parts Hall of Fame during the company’s 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner held in 2022, celebrating her outstanding career and dedicated service to the company and its customers.

Rhonda’s career with Burson Auto Parts officially ends on May 5, 2023. Having been blessed two grandchildren, Blake and Marlow, Rhonda and her husband Phil are looking forward to starting a new and far more relaxed life in Far North Queensland, a place where they have both aspired to live for many years. 

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