Timaru mechanic lands retirement job after 50 years in the industry – Stuff

Murray Kitchen has made the decision to put down his tools and shut up shop but after 50 years is not ready to leave the motoring industry just yet.
The 65-year-old Timaru mechanic is set to close the doors of his Turnbull St business for the last time in March and will take up a job with the Motor Industry Training Organisation, mentoring apprentices.
The decision to semi-retire comes after Kitchen tried to sell his business, with no luck.
“There were a few inquiries but no takers,’’ Kitchen said.
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“It is such a shame, as it would have been a great starter business for a young mechanic. It is hard enough to get finance to purchase a house these days and even harder to buy a business unless you have good capital behind you.’’
Born in Timaru, his enthusiasm for tinkering under the bonnet came about as a young boy, working on his father’s vehicles.
“I would pull things to pieces and put them back together, and they would still go.’’
He began his apprenticeship at the age of 16 at Timaru Motors, a Ford agent.
It took four years on the job to become qualified and Kitchen knew from day one he had made the right choice.
“I knew it straight away.
“My job has been the love of my life.’’
Kitchen started his own business, in partnership, owning a Shell service station and attached workshop in 1985.
“I got put off from a job and went looking for a job, and a couple of guys asked if I wanted to buy their business.
“I went into partnership with a mate and after seven years he bought me out.’’
Armed with his Escort van, toolbox and knowledge, Kitchen set up Murray Kitchen’s Car Maintenance in 1993 and for the past 30 years has built up a client base of 500.
“It has been a mammoth task looking after the client base, with all the logistics of getting work into the workshop, arranging parts, carrying out the many duties required, getting vehicles out on time, and making sure my clients were happy with our workmanship.’’
In his time in the industry, Kitchen has also been a member of the MTA (Motor Trade Association), being a member of several subcommittees supporting the South Canterbury branch, elected to branch vice-president in 2008 – a position he held for two years.
He was then elected to branch president for five years, stepping back over the past five years, to concentrate on being in business until retirement loomed.
Kitchen estimated that in his time in the industry he would have completed at least 80,000 warrants of fitness.
“If you think about it, with a list of 500 clients – I probably saw them twice a year, so that is 1000 cars a year, over 30 years – that gives you an insight.’’
There had been a “hell of a lot of changes’’ in the motor industry over the years and it had been “interesting to say the least’’, Kitchen said.
He said vehicles were much different when he started out in the industry and a lot more went into getting a warrant nowadays. However, they were also safer.
Kitchen said his 1984 Toyota was his dream car – he had owned it for 19 years.
Kitchen said that recently he had been dealing with several third generation clients.
“It has been absolutely awesome being in business for as long as I have and now I have announced my retirement, the accolades are rolling in thick and fast.
“It is very pleasing to know we have always done a great job.’’
He would also miss his clients who had visited with sweet treats – describing their home baking as “the best’’.
However, he would now have more time for golf, gardening and spending time with his wife.
Kitchen will close his business on March 25.
© 2022 Stuff Limited


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