The Dominion Post
Holden on to her love of cars
Cars are more of a passion than a job for Felicity Cotter.
FIGHTS about which is the best car in the world has been going on for almost as long as there have been cars on the road but for Pahiatua vehicle saleswoman Felicity Cotter there’s only one answer. And her reasoning is compelling.
‘‘Holden,’’ she says with as grin. ‘‘Because they’re just better.’’
Cotter’s in a good position to judge. She’s been in and around Holdens ever since she left school and currently owns one – an SS Commodore Crewman in Cosmo Purple.
It’s handy, she says, because she has two dogs – large slobbery boxers.
‘‘I’m always having to wipe down the walls’’ – but it’s probably not just for the dogs she’s tricked it out.
At work however, Cotter doesn’t play favourites.
Jones Motors, the dealership she’s been working for since she was seventeen, does handle new Holden and Suzuki models but there are other makes on the forecourt.
Cotter spent several years running Jones’ Motors’ service department before making the move to sales, and before that had developed an extensive knowledge of what actually goes into a car working in the spares department. But her love of cars started much earlier.
‘‘I‘ve always liked cars,’’ Cotter says. ‘‘As a kid I had dolls but I also had a collection of Matchbox cars – I remember having a Lamborghini and a Corvette – and I knew the names of all the cars.
‘‘As I got older, I started taking note of the vehicles that were around. I used to go to the classic car shows with Dad – the classic hot rods – and that was always good because I started to get interested in the motors they had in them.
‘‘I always liked pulling things apart and putting them back together – it’s kinda like you want to try and do it yourself before asking someone else.
‘‘Then when I was at school and you had to figure out what you want to do in life, I thought ‘Great I’ll be a mechanic’.’’
Cotter left school and started an automotive mechanic course in Palmerston North Polytech but decided it wasn’t for her.
‘‘I loved the theory and learning how cars are put together,’’ she says. ‘‘But to be honest, I didn’t like getting grease on my hands and I felt I didn’t have the strength to cope with the heavier lifting.’’
‘‘That’s when I thought it would be better to move into the parts side of things and if I still wanted to be a technician I could try later on.’’
17 years later, Cotter has yet to answer the call of the grease gun. Instead she stayed with the parts department, becoming parts manager in 2002. While not claiming to know every part number off by heart, she can recall quite a few.
‘‘After a while you get used to the most common requests, and have the part number in your head,’’ she says. ‘‘It’s amazing what I learnt there – you get to know the ins and outs of cars, and understanding people’s different terminology.’’
Cotter says she relishes a challenge, so when the company’s service manager left she moved into the workshop in 2004.
‘‘I thought it’d be a change, and a new challenge,’’ she says. ‘‘And I’ve always liked the technical side of cars.’’
With a team of mechanics – ‘‘We call them technicians’’ – and a steady flow of work, Cotter became adept at juggling the workload. She soon learnt how long jobs should take and allocate workshop time accordingly.
The prospect of another challenge saw Cotter make the move in 2010 to the sales yard.
‘‘It’s quite funny because I never thought I’d see myself selling vehicles,’’ she says. ‘‘It’s a completely different side of the business and I’ve always liked the technical side of things, but I decided once again to take on a new challenge.’’
‘‘I knew a lot of the customers already and people were asking me about cars when I was in the service department – and I had sold the odd vehicle while I was over the road. For a while I was working on both sides and it just built up until I was here full time.’’
Cotter is now the sales manager at Jones Motors and is in charge of the day to day running of the department.
‘‘It’s just me mostly – my boss is here two days a week – and we have a wide range of customers,’’ she says.
‘‘We’ve got a lot of local support and I like to think we give good service so people keep coming back.’’
There’s a healthy mix of new and used car buyers she says.
In the used car yard, Cotter is quite particular with her stock.
‘‘Most of the cars I can tell you their history. Not every car is like that because we do trade them out of the area – but we always check them all over before putting them on the yard.’’
Any that don’t meet the standard are sent elsewhere.
‘‘I like the product and I like the people and I enjoy meeting new people,’’ Cotter says.
‘‘The big thing is to make buying a car as painless as I can. It can be hard work – there’s a lot of competition but I think a lot of people just want to trust the people they’re buying a car off, and trust the dealership as well. We’ve got a good reputation here.
‘‘Sometimes people will just be going for a walk with no intention of buying, and next thing you know you’ve sold them a car.
‘‘That’s what makes the business so interesting.’’