Family business hard to beat
It’s been half a century since Colin Waite set up shop on New North Rd.
The former panelbeater, who turned 80 last weekend, doesn’t fix many dents these days but still pops into the business regularly.
Colin started his career as an apprentice in 1943 and worked for Harry Young Panelbeaters in Kingsland.
“In those days it was 10,000 hours and 15 shillings a week. The man I started with said: ‘That’s not very much, I’ll make it a pound a week’. That’s about $1.50 today.”
He took over the business in 1959 at age 30, renamed it Colin Waite Ltd and moved it down New North Rd to an old apple and pear factory.
The current site was previously a boarding house but when it burned down Colin bought the property, knocked down the house and shifted his business there.
It has expanded to include a paint shop where his son Paul works.
His other son Gary, now the business director, also started out as a panelbeater.
They regularly train apprentices although apprenticeships aren’t as popular as they once were, says Gary.
A love of cars inspired Colin to become a panelbeater and carried through to his private life where he has been involved in motorsport for years.
It began when he bought midgets to race at Western Springs in the mid-1940s.
He still runs a couple of racecars at historic events, including an Italian-made Stanguellini, the only one of its kind in the country.
The family nature of the business is what’s kept it going for half a century, says Colin.
“When I look at the site and what we’ve done here, I feel pretty proud. We’ve always kept it looking good.”
Going strong: Colin Waite, centre, with sons Paul, left, and Gary are celebrating 50 years in panelbeating.