Loved the challenge to bits
JEFF Love has been one of the steady hands at the tiller of Ireland’s spare parts department for 40 years.
But last week he pulled the pin on one of the longest careers at the 93-year-old automotive icon in Cairns.
The spare parts interpreter, former warehouse manager and assistant parts manager turned 65 and said it was time to go.
Since 1976 he has distributed tens of thousands of motor parts, from EH Holden fenders to the latest VF Calais computer chips.
Mr Love was born in Cairns and educated at Balaclava state and Trinity Bay state high schools. In 1964 he joined McDonalds Motors in Abbott St as a messenger boy, using a bike to deliver parts around Cairns.
“The pay was 20 pounds a week,” Mr Love said.
He also spent time at Automotive Components, a subsidiary of Repco and Elphinstones bulk store, but in 1976 joined Ireland’s, first in Lake St and then to Mulgrave Rd.
Mr Love retired after eye problems, exacerbated by spending too much time on computers.
“I stayed with Ireland’s because it was a secure job and the business was family owned,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed working here. I’ve been through seven managers and was assistant manager at one stage.
“Over the years we have gone from books to microfiche and then to computers.
“When I first started we used to deliver a lot of panel parts. I could fit three EH fenders in the basket on the front of the bike. The back wheel was nearly off the ground.”
He said over the years he had seen many trends.
“In the HQ-HZ Kingswood era many young fellas, after smashing the front end, would swap the Kingswood front for the two-headlight grille of the Statesman. They paid the excess on their insurance to cover it.
“We used to keep half a dozen sets upstairs.”
Mr Love said in recent years they supplied a lot of electronic and computer parts as well as filters and electrical parts.
“I used to know part numbers off the top of my head as they never changed but now it’s a different story.”
Mr Love said he had worked for all three generations of Irelands, including the late founder Francis, current chairman Ron and joint managing directors Richard and David.
“Francis and Ron were of the old school. You did as you were told,” he said.
“Richard and David are more lenient, but are looking ahead, more progressive. It was not as quick in the old days as it is today.”
Richard Ireland said Mr Love was one of their longestserving employees.
“He’s not the longest, but up in the list of longest serving of 165 staff. There would only be a handful 40 years or more. Dad’s been here since 1942,” he said.
“He is a likeable, happy guy, who would do anything for you.”
Mr Love said the funniest thing to happen was when an apprentice superglued his glasses to the stainless counter.
“It wasn’t funny at the time and lucky for him they were an old pair,” he said.
Mr Love said the fire that destroyed the parts, service, Holden sales and administration building in 1993 made for challenging times.
“It was very stressful. We lost all the stock, all the books, the computers. Other dealers helped out. We worked out of dongas but it took six to 10 months to rebuild and restock,” he said.
The father of four, who has 13 grandchildren, said young people could make a career out of spare parts.
“You have to be switched on, computer literate, pay attention, listen and do as you are told,” he said.
“And for goodness sake, answer the phone. The bosses want the phone answered and people hate voicemail messages.”
COLOURFUL CAREER: Jeff Love has retired after 40 years working at Ireland's spare parts department. Picture: MARC McCORMACK