The CRA Apprentice of the Year – Golden Gun award is held in high regard within the collision repair industry, and is awarded to the most outstanding apprentice in automotive refinishing. A meticulous worker with a fantastic eye for detail, 22-year-old Cassidy Repia from WD Price Panelbeaters, Auckland, stood out to the judges as a strong contender for the award.

“Honestly, I was really shocked when I found out I had won,” laughs Cassidy. “It was surprising, but a really good surprise! I was so excited.” For Cassidy, the award is the perfect addition to an already impressive CV. “It really shows that I’m competent in what I do, and it’s great to have that recognition from the industry.”

Originally working in retail, Cassidy had never considered a career in the trades. However, when the opportunity arose for her to complete a refinishing apprenticeship, she decided to give it a go. “Art was always my favourite subject at school,” she says. “Although I didn’t know anything about the industry I knew that I liked art, so I decided to just get stuck into it, and haven’t looked back!”

Since achieving a National Certificate in Motor Industry (Automotive Body) with strand in Refinishing (Level 3 and 4) through MITO, Cassidy has continued to grow her skill set, and is now working as Paint Shop Foreman at WD Price Panelbeaters. “Stepping up into this role has definitely taught me a lot about planning and organising,” she says. “I find it all really interesting, and it’s great to be able to develop my leadership skills.”

Refinishing is perfect if you’ve got an interest in art or anything creative, and it’s definitely not just for the boys.

From starting her apprenticeship with no experience, Cassidy has worked her way up in the industry in record-time. Her achievements during this time are a testament to her work ethic - Cassidy was named the 2017 IAG Top Apprentice of the Year in Refinishing, and received a MITO Alumni scholarship in 2019.

Grant Shields, one of the Directors of Shields Bros – the parent company of WD Price Panelbeaters, can't speak highly enough of Cassidy. “Cassidy has taken to her increased responsibilities really well,” he says. “She’s got a great work ethic and I wish I could have another ten of her!”

While she’s already achieved a huge amount in a short amount of time, Cassidy shows no signs of slowing down. She’s now planning on furthering her skills by completing an automotive airbrushing course, which will allow her to pair her impeccable refinishing skills with her love of art. “I’m really looking forward to it,” she says. “It will give me a chance to bring even more creative aspects into my work, instead of just a solid colour paint job.”

Cassidy is also passionate about inspiring other females to get into the collision repair industry, and is certainly doing an impressive job setting a positive example for the younger generation. “If you’re unsure on what you want to do for a career, I would definitely recommend giving a trade a go,” she says. “Refinishing is perfect if you’ve got an interest in art or anything creative, and it’s definitely not just for the boys.”

Cassidy’s natural ability along with her incredible drive make her well-deserving of the Golden Gun award, and she will definitely be one to watch as she continues on what will no doubt be an exceptional career path.

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