At 77, Trevor Davies is still passionate about his trade. “If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t still be doing it. A good tradesman takes pride in his work and I take pride in turning something ugly and broken into something that people will envy.”
Recognition for specialist repairers
Jaguar Land Rover has just appointed its first factory-approved authorised New Zealand collision repairers - three in the North Island and two in the South. Four are MTA members
Jaguar Land Rover NZ spokesperson Mark Patterson says “The five repairers were appointed to further support our Jaguar Land Rover customers. With the emergence of new technology and materials used in the manufacture of their vehicles, the repairers had to meet the strict new body shop standards for both Paint and Body Shop repairer facilities, tooling requirements and training, recently introduced by the UK Company.”
Those appointed include Wellington’s Arlington Motors Ltd. Owner and general manager Trevor Davies is pleased with the recognition which came with a rigorous compliance process.
Arlington Motors has specialised in the repair of European cars for many years, including Jaguar and Land Rover. Trevor believes his track record was the reason the company approached him to offer the opportunity to become one of its first authorised repairers.
“With the growing use of aluminium, carbon fibre, and other new materials and mouldings in their vehicles, they wanted to have full confidence in the people carrying out the repairs,” says Trevor.
There’s an ongoing training programme for technicians, up to 500 hours in the first few years.
Two of Trevor’s technicians have completed the first stages and a third is about to set off on his first week of block training. “It means each person being away on courses for about four weeks of the year for two years.” And that doesn’t include the training they do for other manufacturers.
Trevor and his workshop manager Jeanne Botha have also attended management and technical training sessions to ensure all repairs coming out of Arlington’s meet the Jaguar Land Rover standards.
“Becoming an authorised body shop is a big investment” says Trevor. He’s had to buy a six metre chassis straightening and measuring machine (to fit the long bodied Land Rovers) and other specialist tools and equipment to be used only on aluminium repairs (to prevent cross contamination with steel). He’s also installed heavy plastic curtains around one of his work bays so the area can be dedicated to aluminium work.
Trevor has owned the business for just over 45 years and says while it’s never been easy to turn a profit, it has got harder over the years.
“Technology and materials have changed so quickly - I think paint and panel shops were not ready for the 21st century.”
Arlington’s has a staff of 16, including three apprentices and they complete repairs on around 50-60 vehicles each week. They are also authorised repairers for Audi, Skoda, Mercedes Benz, and VW.
Each manufacturer requires its own specialised training, equipment and tools - all funded by the body shops. “It’s a massive and ongoing investment. These capital costs are so high, I think it would be very hard for someone to start up a new paint and panel business these days.”
Well-trained technicians are also increasingly valued and valuable but, they’re in short supply around the world, so they are also highly sought after. Trevor says he pays above average wages but still can’t compete with Australia which tempts staff with $10 to $15 an hour more than he can pay.
“It’s tough, but you can’t blame young people for chasing the money.”