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6 February 2017

27

A Star News Group Publication

Luna festival lights up the streets

SPORT

Elliott calls it a day

Long-serving Patterson Cheney mechanic Roger Padfield. 164166 Picture: ROB CAREW

■ “I like to stay in one place,” says half-century veteran…

Services with a smile In January 1967 the Vietnam War was brewing, Harold Holt was Prime Minister, Ronald Ryan, the last man hanged in Australia, was still on death row and Roger Padfield started his motor mechanic apprenticeship with Patterson Cheney. Fifty years later Roger is the longest serving member of Patterson Cheney’s 600 strong workforce. He quietly clocked up the milestone on 19 January with handshakes and the presentation of a plaque before he picked up his tools and got on with supervising the afternoon shift at PC Trucks Dandenong, one of Patterson Cheney’s nine divisions. “Some of my spanners are older than my colleagues,” said Roger of the tools that have served him well for half a century. “One’s got a bit of a bend in it but it still works.” Roger grew up in Highett, the son of English immigrants and credits his father, a boilermaker,

with steering him towards a career as a mechanic. He had three choices - SA Cheney, the army and another motor mechanics. With some prescience, Roger’s dad thought SA Cheney offered a “safe option” and Roger took up the offer of an apprenticeship at the firm’s South Melbourne car service centre learning how to fix Holdens, Chevrolets, Pontiacs and Vauxhalls. “I didn’t know as much about mechanics as I thought I did,” remembered Roger of his early years as an apprentice. “I learnt a lot, that’s for sure. “In those days we were repairing cars, not just replacing parts. Now it’s cheaper to replace parts and there is a lot more electronics involved. You were lucky to see an electric ignition in my day.” Roger moved to Patterson Cheney’s Dandenong site in the early 1990s. He started on the afternoon shift in 1994 and still clocks on at 3pm and clocks off at 11pm overseeing five mechanics as afternoon supervisor. He only considered changing jobs once in 50 years shortly after finishing his apprenticeship. A

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timely pay rise helped convince him to stay. “I like to stay in the one place,” he said modestly. Patterson Cheney’s human resources manager Daniel Waixel said approximately 20 per cent of the team had been with the company 10 years or longer. “Roger’s commitment and dedication is truly valued, we couldn’t be prouder of Roger’s 50 years’ service,” Mr Waixel said. Patterson Cheney CEO Cameron Bertalli remembers a time when he was stopped at a service station in Yea by a driver who knew Roger. “I spoke to a driver there who said Roger was a dead-set legend,” said Mr Bertalli. “He has a great sense of humour, he is great under pressure and goes the extra mile.” Dealer principal Terry Jewson has worked with Roger for 35 years and said “he is a truly valued employee that is extremely passionate about the brand and the Patterson Cheney business”. When he’s not working, Roger’s passion is his dogs - a border collie and a border collie kelpie cross.

He is a qualified agility judge and teaches dog obedience classes. In 1984 Roger and wife Lynne won Tattslotto. They paid off their Cheltenham home and went to England and the United States on holiday. Roger remembers his boss at the time was a “bit panicky” when he found out about the windfall, but it didn’t cross his mind to throw in his job. “The missus would have killed me if I did,” he said with a rueful grin. And his advice to young mechanics entering the profession? “I think the important thing is to enjoy what you’re doing. If you don’t enjoy it, no matter how much you’re paid, it’s not worth it. “It’s a good industry, a lot cleaner than it used to be.” Have you got a long serving employee or someone who has gone above and beyond the call of duty you would like to recognise publically? Contact Narelle Coulter on 5945 0642 or email narelle.coulter@starnewsgroup.com.au.

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By Narelle Coulter

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Dandenong Journal Star - 06th February 2017