Not ready for retirement yet
Paul made his way into the industry almost by chance though. “During my time at high school I was an NCO in the Air Training Corps, so going into the Air Force was number one in my mind. At the same time I thought I might like working on cars as I did have a passion for mechanical things,” said Paul. Paul’s elder brother was living in Auckland at the time and decided to take him around a number of dealerships to see if Paul could pick up an apprenticeship. As it turned out it resulted in a couple of offers – but Davie Motors was the dealership of choice.
These days, 52 years in one workplace would be hard to believe for many people, but Paul has stood the test of time and shown everyone how it’s done. “As a young lad I found the social life at Davie Motors just great, we seemed to have no shortage of events and functions,” recalls Paul. It was never in his plans to stay for too long, and for that reason he decided not to join the superannuation scheme – at the time he was restless but wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. That all changed when automatic transmissions came along; they were challenging in the early days and certainly had their share of problems. Around the same time, they started replacing the original engines in Bedford vans and trucks with small diesel or V8 engines. “I loved this sort of work, it was so absorbing, and so my passion for the motor trade kicked off again.”
At around the age of 27, Paul became foreman, a role that he recalls as good but hard, and looking back he realises that he actually really enjoyed it. From there, the time has gone very quickly – the motor industry has been changing so quickly with challenges arising on a constant basis. Paul said, “I have always enjoyed the people at Davie Motors but it is also the people at Holden, MTA, MITO and other motor businesses that I have had associations with along the way that have made it so enjoyable.”
Those who know Paul and have worked with him over the years seem to agree on a number of things, most notably what a great, grounded man he is. Alan Barr, Mediation Advisor at MTA, previously worked for General Motors and dealt with Paul on a regular basis. Alan said, “Paul always had his feet on the ground, you knew you could trust him and he was always upfront.” Alan also said that Paul never looked his age, a compliment that many people would like to receive for sure!
Laurence Davie, co-owner of Davie Motors with his brother Kerry, has worked with Paul for 50 of the 52 years, so it would be fair to say he knows Paul better than anyone. “Paul is a very fine man, a wonderful husband and a very good father and grandfather,” said Laurence. As an employee, Laurence said, “Paul has always had the utmost integrity, he’s a no-nonsense person and has always been well respected by his own staff, as well as those at Holden NZ.”
For the best part of 60 years, Davie Motors have had only three service managers – Alby Appleton, Bruce Newall and Paul Cutfield. They also have a service centre at Botany, managed by Rob Hall, who has been there since it opened several years ago. The continuity that this kind of loyalty brings has meant customers of Davie Motors have shown the same in return.
Over the years Paul has seen significant changes, inevitable when you’ve been in the industry for such a long period of time. The quality and reliability of new cars has improved immensely, “when I think of the vehicles I worked on as an apprentice, they leaked oil, had rattles and were always breaking down. We had to pull things to bits to repair them; nowadays vehicles are so reliable that they hardly have a reason to pull major components down to repair.” Paul believes that vehicles will continue to increase in reliability, efficiency and become cheaper to run. Electric cars will take up a greater portion of the market, however Paul doesn’t believe this is the answer to all problems in the future.
For all the challenges there have also been many satisfying times. Paul recalls, “I did enjoy having the input into building up a new workshop – the planning, choosing equipment, recruiting staff and so forth.” Paul has been lucky enough to have done that three times for Davie Motors. But Paul believes you have great satisfaction most days, “The troublesome jobs that you sweated blood for, but fixed, and the customer is happy – they’re all very satisfying,” says Paul.
Keeping in touch with the motor industry has always been important to Paul, and Radiator has been that link. Paul has used MTA as a sounding board and sought advice on a number of occasions over the years. The summaries in Radiator on various court cases have always proved interesting and assisted in some of his decisions. Paul believes MTA is a trusted brand and gives reassurance to their customers.
Paul will now work on warranty claims at Davie Motors two to three days a week. Having less time in the office will allow him to continue with his active lifestyle that sees him at the gym three or four times a week, playing a round of golf once or twice a week, and keeping up with his two sons and six grandchildren. For a man of nearly 70, that is a mighty impressive effort. Paul also hopes to spend more time travelling with his wife, having just celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary, but it seems he won’t be letting the motor industry go just yet.
Story by Stephanie Anderson, MTA Communications and Marketing Coordinator