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THE Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) turns 103 this year and has celebrated the occasion by changing its name to better reflect today’s industry emphasis.

So the VACC becomes the VACC, changing its second word to “automotive” from “automobile” as the world’s definition of the automobile as personal transport changes to embrace the wider “mobility” terminology.

The name change came about because of input from members and to “better reflect a modern automotive industry”, it said.

VACC CEO Geoff Gwilym said: “VACC was founded in 1918 by a collective of car dealers. Our name has served us very well for more than a century but now, with VACC about to move into a new building, and with a board fully focussed on the next 100 years, the time is right for us to change our name to the Victorian Automotive Chamber of Commerce.”

VACC represents all facets of the automotive industry in Victoria and Tasmania, from mechanical repairers and auto electricians to recyclers and vehicle dealers, as well as body repairers and engineering specialists in the heavy vehicle space to tyre dealers and vehicle restorers.

“The change of name to ‘automotive’ better embodies the many sectors of the industry and reflects a more contemporary member organisation,” Mr Gwilym said.

“The Victorian Automotive Chamber of Commerce is future-focussed and ready to represent all its members for the next 100 years.”

Meanwhile, construction of the VACC’s new headquarters is progressing and is expected to be completed by the end of this year. The building is at 650 Victoria Street, North Melbourne, on the corner of Lothian and Victoria Street.

VACC made a strategic decision to capitalise on its St Kilda Road “VACC House” premises and move to a purpose-built facility close to the city, selling its seven-storey complex in 2018 for close to $100 million.

At the time it said the building was aging and the need to keep sourcing tenants was “onerous and time-consuming”.

Mr Gwilym said: “Even looking at a modernisation of VACC House would have had severe implications for member funds, with an unknown projection of future tenancy rates.”

“Ironically, the coronavirus situation has highlighted the need for VACC to reduce its office footprint and not rely on rental incomes as a major income stream,” he said.

The new building in North Melbourne has been designed to reduce business silos at VACC and to encourage cross-team and cross-department activity.

“We need to use all of the capability in the association to bring quality services to our members,” Mr Gwilym said.

“Working collaboratively in a highly intuitive work environment means we can focus on what is important to the members.”

The new, four-story building will have a large open atrium on the entrance level and will be able to showcase new vehicle innovations and display the latest technologies. Access from the laneway at the rear of the building means that cars will be able to be rolled into the main entrance foyer.

The VACC said the new building was aimed at giving members and visitors a feeling of activity and transparency.

“Informal meetings will be held in the entrance foyer and member meetings will be accommodated across the other building levels,” it said.

“Members will have easy access to the building with 91 car spaces being allocated and an electric charging station included, as part of the three levels of basement car parking.”

VACC president Fury Bortolotto said it was a “great step forward for VACC, both in recognising our past and in preparing VACC for the future.”

“The building will have a look and feel that talks to the future of the automotive industry,” he said.

“This is so important, especially if we want to attract the right people into the industry. I am proud to be putting the spade into the ground on this important project.”

The building will take 370 days to build and VACC anticipates it will be moving into the new premises in late 2021.

A fixed time-lapse camera has been mounted on the worksite and VACC will be sending out regular building stage updates in the coming months.

By Neil Dowling

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