Our People - Scott McKenzie
This Saturday marks Scott McKenzie’s 35th year at Jamieson River Automotive
SCOTT McKenzie’s story as a motor mechanic began 44 years ago, when at the age of 16 he took on a role as an apprentice mechanic in Mansfield.
A local mechanic in town asked if he wanted to learn the ropes and help out his operation.
Scott said yes, and he’s been helping people ever since.
After earning his stripes working and completing his mechanical apprenticeship in Mansfield, Scott took on a job back closer to home at Jamieson River Automotive, where he assisted then owner, Graeme Willey, in the building of the garage.
Scott purchased the business in 1982, and has been the god in the machine of Jamieson ever since, solving local’s problems and saving them from the mortal coil of mechanical heartache.
He, many locals will tell you, is Jamieson.
Scott certainly loves his town, and in many ways is like its boxing trainer, keeping Jamieson fit, running on all cylinders, and punching above its weight.
And like the best trainers, he knows his boxer better than anyone.
When he was just three years old, Scott arrived in Jamieson from Tallangatta with his mother Cynthia, father Ken, and three siblings.
The McKenzies established a dairy farm on a property by the Jamieson River, producing butter fat from 90 cows and feeding skimmed milk to the pigs.
The dairy farm turned to producing beef cattle, and now Scott lives on a slither of the old farm, which means he has been using the same driveway for 57 years.
At Jamieson River Automotive, Scott will have been putting the key into the door for 35 years this Saturday.
“At the time I took over the shop, the attraction was farm equipment, and a core part of the business was selling the Fiat range,” he said.
“Back then, there was a lot more farming around Jamieson, and a lot more work on tractors, hay balers and farm equipment generally.”
Over the years Scott has seen many a brushcutter and lawnmower in his garage, and cars and boats are still piling up in the repair yard.
It doesn’t matter what size, whether it be a brushcutter or a bulldozer – or anything in between – Scott will fix it.
“And that’s basically how it’s been all the way through,” he said.
But not quite - in the early 1990s, Scott started doing tow truck rescues and four-wheel drive recovery.
“The four-wheel drive recovery became a fairly major part of my life in some respect,’ he said.
“Anything that’s a bit difficult I enjoy, and it all becomes another day at the office.”
The rescues were another job Scott started doing because people needed help.
When people run off the road, Scott puts them back on, and if there’s a motor vehicle accident in the area, He will get called in.
With his tow truck he will clear out the machinery, and when there are big accidents he will be there to assist ambos or help out with whatever the scene requires.
Sometimes his salvage missions are multiple day affairs and the rescues are typically staged on hazardous mountain terrain, but you can hear in voice that he relishes the challenge – he is a man with the heart and mind for good old fashioned service.
After nearly 35 years at Jamieson River Automotive, Jamieson’s fixer is busier than ever and still enjoys getting up and going to work.
Unlike the “early” days when he used to have “some days off,” Scott works seven days a week and is on call 24/7 for rescues, and his wife Jenny, who works full time at Mansfield Secondary College in administration and reception, is having a hard time prying the wrench out of his hands.
“I still enjoy the interaction with people, if I got tired of that I probably wouldn’t get out of bed as quickly, and Jenny wants me to have a life – she thinks that maybe I should start slowing down a bit, and start to enjoy the fruits of our labour,” reflected Scott.
Jenny, who with Scott is a proud parent of Stephanie, (a Senior Parole Officer), and Brendan, (completing his degree is Security and Counterterrorism), wants her husband to leave the job with a bit of gas left in the tank.
The problem is that no one else wants him to leave the garage.
THE PEOPLE’S MECHANIC: In 1982 Scott McKenzie purchased Jamieson River Automotive. Today he is busier than ever, working seven days a week and on call around the clock for rescue missions.
CIRCA 1986: Scott McKenzie stands with his first tow truck, an ex-military six wheel drive.