Hanging up tools after 40 years
A lifelong love of cars and helping people fix them has fuelled a Temuka garage and service station owner for the past 41 years.
Now more than four decades after setting up shop on King St, Neville Baird is taking a step back from the business and letting his son take the reins.
Baird said after starting work for Otago Motors in Temuka in 1968, then completing his four year apprenticeship in Christchurch for the same firm, he came home and spent a year working for another garage.
Then in 1976, Baird and his brother, David, who passed away 18 years ago, bought the same service station, under the name of Huttons. It would later change to Baird’s Motordrome.
The siblings ran the service station and garage for 15 years before Neville bought his brother out.
Neville’s son, Tim, who had started working for his father when he was about 12 years old, had graduated from pumping gas to taking over the business.
‘‘He’s a very capable and qualified mechanic, he knows exactly what he’s doing.
‘‘A lot of customers now tend to go and see him instead of coming to see me, which is good, I don’t mind, sometimes you can get a little bit short as you get older.’’
The daily interaction with people was one of the main things Neville Baird said motivated him to come to work every morning.
‘‘You get a lot of good customers, you get to deal with the public, you can joke with them, they make your day.
‘‘It’s just the joy of getting somebody’s car sorted out, accomplishing something.’’
The business had weathered some tough times over the years, he said.
When the State Highway was moved from King St to a bypass running parallel, all the petrol stations suffered.
‘‘That certainly didn’t help us, there used to be six service stations in Temuka once, now there’s only two.’’
Falling victim less often to people filling up then driving off without paying for their petrol had also helped the business, Baird said.
‘‘We like to always serve people on the forecourt, that has actually helped not having drive offs.
‘‘We still got the odd cheeky bugger leap into the car and go.’’
More often than not people left without paying because of absent mindedness, he said.
Despite walking away from the day-to-day running of the business, Baird would still be involved in some way or another.
‘‘Cars are my life, I will come back and help my son out when he needs it ... but then it might only be half a day.
‘‘I was 65 last June, people tell me when you are 65 you have probably got at least 10 good years on you.
‘‘But you never know so you’ve got to stop, and go an enjoy yourself while you can, otherwise you could fall over the next week.
‘‘I know the dog will enjoy it, he’ll be able to go for more walks.’’
Neville Baird, pictured with his wife Helen and son Tim, is calling it quits after 41 years.