Hang­ing up tools af­ter 40 years

South Canterbury Herald - - TEMUKA NEWS - BEN AU­LAKH

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.’’

PHOTO: DOUG FIELD/STUFF

Neville Baird, pic­tured with his wife He­len and son Tim, is call­ing it quits af­ter 41 years.

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