At 17 years old, Adam Devoy began work as an apprentice collision repair technician for Tony Fabish Panelworks in Te Awamutu. Today, Adam is the proud owner of the business that gave him his first taste of the industry.

“Like a lot of young people, when I left school I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do!” laughs Adam. “What I did know was that I liked cars, and I enjoyed metalwork, so I went from there.” After working one day a week at Tony Fabish Panelworks for work experience, Adam was soon offered an apprenticeship, and began to study through MITO. Upon getting qualified, he quickly progressed to a senior role, before being promoted to Foreman. After a few years overseas, where he developed his skills further, Adam returned to New Zealand, and bought the very same business where he began his career. Now he has five MITO apprentices under his stewardship – with a sixth soon to be signed up!  

19 year old Blake Smith, an automotive refinishing apprentice at Tony Fabish Panelworks definitely wouldn’t mind a career path similar to Adam’s. “Working my way up in the industry is always going to be my goal,” says Blake. “Making my way to Foreman and then eventually becoming a business owner is definitely something I would like to achieve.” Blake is already proving his dedication to the job and his passion for the industry, as a recipient of a 2018 MITO KickStart Scholarship.

As a business owner, Adam is passionate about getting young people into the trade, showing them the ropes, and helping them get qualified. “There aren’t enough qualified technicians out there at the moment,” says Adam. “The only way to get them is to invest in training, treat them well, and then hold onto them!”  

Quick to point out that he’s not the only one pushing for the apprentices to succeed, Adam can’t speak highly enough of his team. “We have a really great working environment here. Our panel and paint shop Foremen are in charge of mentoring the apprentices and overseeing the work that they do. They’re a huge part of the training process.”

Reese Hogarth, another of the five apprentices training at Tony Fabish Panelworks, was also a recipient of a 2018 KickStart Scholarship. It’s no surprise that Reese is excelling in his job, he’s got refinishing in his blood – with his Dad working as Foreman of the refinishing department at Tony Fabish Panelworks. “I grew up helping my Dad out with cars on the weekends,” says Reese. “So I was always going to get into the industry – there’s no way I’d want to be in an office!”

Adam is certain that both apprentices have promising careers ahead of them. “There’s no doubt in my mind that Blake and Reese will become senior team members once they have finished their qualifications – they’ll be very good tradesmen once they have completed.”

MITO’s new eLearning system is exactly the kind of thing that Adam believes will benefit young people while they study. eLearning allows learners to complete theory elements of their programme from their mobile phone, tablet or laptop. “It’s bang on,” says Adam. “They can sit down on their lunch breaks and get it done on their laptops – it’s perfect for the millennial generation!”

To young people hoping for a career path similar to Adam’s, he has some solid advice: “Getting into a training programme and getting qualified is the only way to go. Don’t be scared, get into it and get qualified.” As for fellow business owners – Adam wants people to make an effort to inspire the younger generation. “There are so many capable young Kiwis out there that our industry could benefit from – so get the young ones in, set an example, and show them where a qualification could take them.”

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