Motor trade is “getting difficult for old ones like me”, says retiring mechanic

Garage owner leaves business to son after working at same garage for 63 years

Motor trade is “getting difficult for old ones like me”, says retiring mechanic
Alan Filby.

An 80-year-old mechanic who is retiring after working at the same garage for 63 years said it was “really getting difficult for old ones like me”, the BBC has reported.

Alan Filby, who started working at Castle Hill Garage in Bedford in 1956 and later took it over from his father, said when he started working he dealt with “basic and simple” 1930s cars that required “a greasy spanner”.

“But the modern electronics on the new cars are headaches, you’ve got to have so much special equipment,” he added.

“As time’s gone on they’ve introduced more gadgets and electronics.

“More gadgets and electronics”

“It’s forever on the change and with today’s electric cars it’s really getting difficult for old ones like me.”

He’s now decided to retire to go on more holidays and play golf but said he would still visit to help when needed.

His son David, who taught vehicle mechanics at Barnfield College in Luton, is taking over the business.

He said: “I am a bit nervous as it’s going to be very different to what I have done for the last 15 years.

“If I can carry on for the rest of this generation it will be fantastic.”

Alan Filby said he had never wished to do any other job.

“I’ve loved it, loved every minute of it,” he said.

“I don’t think I will ever get used to not coming up here.”

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  • #182591 Reply
    Christopher paul Nunn

    I own and operate a class 1 2 4 test station as we are always failing cars you would think we do mot repair work. But no they are to complex sometimes and not worth the bother so we only do MOTS and Car air conditioning and tyres much easier and more profitable. It won’t take long before the motor trade as had it’s day entirely.

    #182598 Reply
    Mark i

    I have run a small garage group for 13 years.
    The trade needs a shake up.
    All mechanics should have a licence similar to electricians.
    With yearly training in the new vehicles and repair technologies.
    The full industry should charge/pay/earn more.
    People spend 10’s of thousands on a vehicle but the technicians and garages are under paid for what they do.
    Garage owners fork out 10’s of thousands on equipment in the hopes of making a small return.
    The more electric cars that come out the worse it will get.
    Also this will result in More equipment and trading needed but who is to pay for it .
    There needs to be a change in the industry and quickly.

    #182601 Reply
    Ken Ashton

    I am in a similar position , my son taking over the business that I started in the early 80’s . Reinvestment in equipment has proved worthwhile and there is a constant flow of work with not taking a job on being a rarity .

    #182621 Reply

    Yes it is becoming more difficult. I was a VW master Technician for many years and loved the challenge of finding faults within the many systems on the cars. However the industry does not look after it’s staff so I left to become an electrician. More money less hours and treated with respect. The trade is going to have to do something special to keep the old boys or newbies and keep them. I’m afraid it might be too late.

    #182846 Reply

    Having been in this trade for over 30 years I have seen many things change. The only way to improve the bottom line if to pick your client base and then target them. The company was one of the 1st companies in the NW to start doing fleet lease work back in the late 80’s. In those day we used to achieve a 82% increase on the labour rate we were currently charging over the counter. This was well worth the development of this kind of business at the time. Today we receive the same rate from the lease companies as we do from the private clients except without all of the free items they seem to expect. The solution is to change your client base and by doing this you can provide the high standards and the most professional offering that only an independent workshop can provide.
    I come into contact with a lot of main dealers and the service they provide to clients is as bad today as it was back in the 80/s and we should take full advantage of this.
    Additional specialist services is also another excellent way of improving the bottom line. Things like MOT testing are a waste of time, because the independent trade are just in a race to the bottom.
    The golden rule here is “if there is not profit in it we do not want the job”

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