TALENTED TECHNICIAN FOLLOWS PASSION IN RALLYSPORT
Ben Fretwell has earned many accolades in his career, from Hyundai Pinnacle Programme recipient to two Apprentice of the Year awards, and has paved his way for a successful career in the automotive industry.
Coming from a family of keen motorsport enthusiasts, he has followed his passion in the industry and now operates as the Workshop Manager for Hayden Paddon’s rally crew.
Paddon Rallysport Group Workshop Manager, Ben Fretwell (28), has developed an impressive resume in his time working in the automotive industry.
Ben was first identified as someone with great potential through the Hyundai Pinnacle Programme which was created to find young New Zealanders that would become this country’s next generation of leaders in a range of industries. Through this programme, Ben was given mentoring and guidance to excel in his future career. With this support and his dedicated mindset, Ben followed his passion for cars and entered the automotive industry as an apprentice technician after high school.
Ben started his apprenticeship at Mosgiel Towing & Mechanical where he completed MITO’s New Zealand Certificate in Light Automotive Engineering (Level 4). During his time there, he earned the Apprentice of the Year award from two separate organisations - Otago MTA and Snap-on Tools. The Snap-on Tools prize package included over $12,500 worth of products and Ben says the award was completely unexpected. “I was honoured just to have been selected as a finalist, and to be honest, that alone would have been great recognition for me, but to be named Apprentice of the Year was simply amazing,”
To be named as Apprentice of the Year was simply amazing.
Ben’s driven attitude can be attributed to his love of learning. “I’m always wanting to know more,” he says. “I really enjoy the theory side of my job and applying what I learned in the training programmes to the vehicles I diagnose in the workshop.” Ben’s obsession with furthering his education is evident as he has now completed three more programmes since his apprenticeship – Otago Polytechnic’s New Zealand Certificate in Automotive Electrical Engineering (Level 4) and New Zealand Certificate in Electric Vehicle Automotive Engineering (Level 5), also a course in Organisations and Management (Level 5) through Open Polytechnic.
As a highly regarded technician with a known passion for rally sport, Ben was soon noticed by rally driver, Hayden Paddon, who was in search of outstanding technicians to join his crew. Ben was offered a position with Paddon Rallysport in 2019 and was thrilled to accept the opportunity to join a world-class rally crew. “I never imagined I’d find myself here, but motorsport has always been a huge passion of mine and my family’s. To turn something that was a passion and a hobby into a career, it’s a cool thing.”
Four years on, Ben has recently earned the position of Workshop Manager with the Paddon Rallysport crew and has supported Hayden in winning numerous trophies both in New Zealand and around the world. “I’ve grown a lot over the last four years, not only as a technician, but also in my people skills, management skills, and organisational skills. It’s a really cool industry where you see a lot of different things. You’re not just focused on one job or one particular set of skills.”
Ben’s looking forward to the challenges ahead of him and his team. “The thing that keeps me motivated in this line of work is that there’s always something different, and the adrenaline rush we get when we’re competing at an event, especially when we’re winning. There’s a lot of hard work that goes in before, during, and after an event. To know that you’re part of something, and to bring it all together on race day, is an awesome feeling.”
It’s outstanding to hear from someone who has put in the hard work to get qualified with MITO and then be rewarded with a career befitting that commitment. Ben’s advice to people exploring a career in the automotive industry is, “if you’re a young person wondering what to do, find something that you love and put everything into it. It’s a good thing to invest in.”