Training Course Instructors
My passion for Collision Repair training began with the start of my apprenticeship in the mid 1980’s in the UK, where I became qualified in both Collision Repair and Refinishing – going on to attain an advanced qualification in Collision Repair. I worked for both Toyota and VW/Audi before managing a large Volvo Collision Repair facility in Nottingham, England. I emigrated to NZ in 1996 with my wife, where we settled in Whangarei and continue to reside in the beautiful north. In 1997 I began teaching a Collision Repair course for a local training provider before going on to manage a very successful team of apprentice coordinators, supporting and mentoring young people across a number of trades.
I have a real passion for helping young people through apprenticeships, having been involved with literally thousands over the last 20 or so years. Many of these have progressed to become successful business owners, World Skills winners and Apprentice of the Year. At present I run my own company, Smart Trades 2017 mentoring and support of young people in the trades, not least Collision Repair. We provide training and support for local businesses and their employees.
I am a MITO Registered Assessor and also have a part time role in the Automotive Department at Northtec in Whangarei. In addition I provide support for the CRA National Scholarship recipients as well as a number of Northland and Auckland apprentices. My role as an Instructor and Weld tester with I-CAR NZ really feeds my other passion for lifelong learning and always seeking more knowledge to continually improve on everything I do.
I am married with two Kiwi boys, and my interests include new vehicle technology, teaching, working with young people, martial arts, gym/fitness, soccer, hockey and building things!
The Collision Repair Industry has been my passion since commencing an apprenticeship in the early 1960’s in Hamilton. I later owned and operated a collision repair facility in Hamilton and still reside in the same city.
Through my heavy involvement over the past years with the CRA and MITO, I am fortunate to have visited many repair facilities throughout NZ, this has enabled me to get a first hand insight of the training needs required for both apprentice and senior personnel.
In 1987 I was one of the inaugural team who trained at I-CAR USA and since then always played an active role with I-CAR NZ, first as a volunteer then NZ manager and currently as technical research advisor developing courses for new vehicle model specific I-CAR NZ programmes.
I have been in the Collision Repair industry since I left school in the late 80s. I started my apprenticeship in North Canterbury and moved to Christchurch after 3 years to complete my final year. I was successful in gaining my A Grade and Trade Certificate in Panelbeating and Trade Certificate in Automotive Refinishing. After being involved in a Motorbike accident I changed my career path in 1999 and joined the education sector, 7 years at the Southern Institute of Technology in Christchurch and then 8 years at Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology. I have also completed my Adult Teaching Certificate and am now working towards my Diploma in adult teaching.
I am now the South Island Territory Manager for ABE (Auto Body Equipment Ltd).
My spare time is spent with my 2 children or out on my Mountain bike enjoying this countries wonderful trails. Working with I-CAR NZ would have to be one of the highlights of my continuing career, I look forward to learning about new and exciting technology and having the opportunity to pass that experience on to others.
Based in Christchurch I am currently working as an industry consultant managing the Axalta Coating Systems ‘Axalta Services’ programme for New Zealand and working with Standox, Cromax and Spies Hecker end users. I started out in a small suburban panelshop as an apprentice panelbeater in the early 80’s and went on to owning that business 7 years later.
I have been heavily involved with the CRA for many years from a branch level to the position as National Chairman.Throughout this time and after 28 years as a business owner I have seen many changes in vehicle technology and understand the difficulties in keeping pace with the rapid changes in repair requirements. I am passionate about industry education and enjoy working with businesses and individuals in their drive for continual improvement. I am currently the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for I-CAR New Zealand.
I enjoy keeping fit and I’m a mad keen mountain biker and road cyclist with any spare time spent out on the local trails or on the bumpy Christchurch roads. I also enjoy playing golf and riding my horse.
Canterbury born and raised and happily parochial, my time as an I-CAR instructor has been an ongoing character building experience that has enabled me to see so much of regional New Zealand. I have been involved in the auto body industry for more than 38 years as an auto body technician and have previously been a panel shop owner, shop manager, part time and full time tutor with both CPIT and SIT institutes and a motor assessor for two insurers. I have also had the honour to have been engaged in the writing of a unit standard in the MITO A-Tech programme several years ago. My wife and I returned to New Zealand earlier this year from a 12 month career challenge in Melbourne, where I was engaged as a technical specialist with a multi-national claim services and loss adjusters company. Based on the experiences and industry expertise gained, we have created a small business enterprise that specialises in on-job apprenticeship and staff training, estimating and technical reporting.
My pastimes/ hobbies / interests include motorcycling racing, cycling, tennis and the design and fabrication of components in composites, metals and fibreglass. Between us, we have four grown up children and an ongoing desire to see as much of the world as possible.
I am extremely pleased to be able to continue my involvement with I-CAR and stay aboard the roller coaster ride that epitomises the industry today and into the future.
After being in business for 29 years and employing 10 staff, I opted for a quieter lifestyle and sold our business in 2006. I am also Membership Liaison Officer for the CRA so the two jobs seem to suit my present lifestyle.
I enjoy travelling around the country meeting fellow colleagues and hopefully sharing some of my knowledge and expertise in the welding field. When I am not working, I enjoy spending time on my boat fishing or relaxing at our bach in Whitianga. I am also an avid rugby supporter, in particular following the Waikato and Chiefs teams. I was also fortunate enough to travel to Europe in 2007 and go to some of the World Cup games.
I have worked in the collision repair industry since leaving school in 1964. In 2003 I closed my Titahi Bay Panel and Paint shop after 30 years of business. During that time I was an active executive member of the Wellington branch of the CRA. With a special and continuing interest in industry training. As well as supervising I-CAR welding tests, I keep myself busy with short-term panelshop management.
When there is spare time I enjoy fishing in Cook Strait, spending time at the family rural block in the Wairarapa and just enjoying time with my wife and family.
I have been in the industry my whole working life. I started in 1984 and began running my own business in 1990 in Hawera. I continue in my own business, Ben Thomas Panelbeating today. I enjoy the industry and many of the people in it.
As an I-CAR welding instructor, I enjoy going to the various shops, working with the guys being tested and the shop owners.
It is rewarding being able to give back to the industry that I derive my living from.
I have been in the Panel Industry for forty years plus, and been in my own business for the past twenty-two years. I have also served as a Rugby referee actively for thirty years. I enjoy the great outdoors, rugby, fishing, hunting, boating and diving.
I am a panelbeater by trade and completed my time with Gary Hyde Panelbeaters in Takanini. I spent 13 years as a lecturer at Manukau Institute of Technology teaching in the vehicle trades, predominantly panelbeating and welding. Throughout this time I had close contact with the collision repair industry. I am an I-CAR NZ structural weld instructor, this is a role I enjoy as it is a great opportunity to keep in touch with others and advances in the industry. My leisure time is divided between family, fishing and the garden.