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kas craig fair

BACKING HIMSELF AND HIS BUSINESS

Craig Fair is taking a bold step– throwing everything he has into building a brand new workshop.

Craig has spent all of his 38 years of working life at Karori Auto Services in Wellington.

Since 1980 he and his staff have worked out of the small workshop on Karori’s main street. Craig and his family live in the original 1920s home on the same large section – but unlike the workshop, he has been able to significantly expand and renovate the house over the years.

“We have one hoist into the workshop but, we’re really restricted by the height of the roof and can’t push out the four working bays in any direction.” The small space means Craig and his mechanics are often moving cars around or shifting them out onto the street to keep the jobs flowing through.

He’s confident the new workshop will make his business much more efficient and he intends to hire another mechanic to join him and his two other technicians, Tajinder Singh and Chris Casey. The other member of staff is part-time office administrator Pat Lynch.

“I’ve been working on ideas for a new workshop for a long time. Fifteen years ago a house and section two doors down from the workshop came up for sale and I bought it.”

Craig could see the potential for the 800-square-metre section, But it’s been a slow burn, with a few pauses for a breather, before the foundations were laid a few months ago.

It took about a year to get the resource consent against some stiff opposition from a neighbour. “They seemed to be objecting most about the noise potential, despite already living next door to my current workshop. We had to get some tests done to prove there would be no more noise than there is from all the road traffic.”

Then he needed to clear all the trees, a job he did himself, and he still has a stack of firewood to keep the family home warm for many years.

KAS exterior

DELAYS

“There were also a difficult few years involved in moving the house off the site and onto another section I bought in south Karori. I was using a builder who turned out to be disaster. He went way over budget, over time and was doing a really poor job. I sacked him after 11 months and had to spend a small fortune getting a lot of his work redone. And then he tried to sue me.”

It took a while for Craig to recover before getting back into the project. But he’s now excitedly watching the new building take shape.

“It’s going to be incredibly strong. The new earthquake standards mean there is a huge amount of steel reinforcing in all the concrete. The design has four hoists, two entry doors, an upstairs lunchroom and storage. Downstairs will be the office and washroom and so on. I had the ideas all in my head and visited a few other workshops to see what they had done. When I walked into Webb Auto Services in Johnsonville it was almost exactly what I had imagined, so our two places are fairly similar.”

It’s a hefty investment with a big bank loan, but Craig is confident his business can cope with the additional debt.

“Our turnover has been increasing over the years, and I’ve done no advertising. Customers come from all over Wellington simply from word of mouth. So with an extra mechanic and better use of space, we should be able to get through quite a lot more work.”

He also sees it as an investment in his long- term future. “The building is an asset and will ensure the business continues for many years to come.”

He’s expecting to move into the new workshop by late October.