Fam­ily busi­ness hard to beat

Central Leader - - News - By Janie Smith

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.”

Photo: JANIE SMITH

Go­ing strong: Colin Waite, cen­tre, with sons Paul, left, and Gary are cel­e­brat­ing 50 years in pan­el­beat­ing.

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