Veteran Truck Technician Retires After 54 Years
Roger Padfield (right) with Patterson Cheney Director of Services Wayne Murphy.
At 70, Roger Padfield put an end to his career, leaving a lasting impression on many of those who had the pleasure of working with him.
Flashback to 1967, The Beatles were in their prime, Neil Armstrong was still two years away from landing on the moon and trucks as we now know were nonexistent. It was also the same year that a 16-year-old named Padfield began his apprenticeship as an auto mechanic with Patterson Cheney.
Padfield began his journey with Patterson Cheney at the South Melbourne Auto Service Center, learning the ins and outs of repairing Holdens, Chevrolets, Pontiacs and Vauxhalls. In less than two years, Bedford trucks were added to the mix.
When the company opened its Footscray dealership, Padfield moved there, working as a foreman, then a team leader and finally a truck driver. After about 11 years on this site, Patterson Cheney made the decision to close the Footscray dealership and Padfield moved to Patterson Cheney Isuzu Dandenong in 1983, where he remained for 28 years as an afternoon shift supervisor in the service department. Although his official title only scratches the surface of the contribution he made during his time there.
“When I started the afternoon shift, there were only two of us. By the time I finished there were about 12 people. I basically distributed the work, checked the work in progress, booked the vehicles and sorted out the spares, ”said Padfield, who grew up in the Melbourne suburb of Highett.
His father was a boilermaker and he says this helped him move into a career as a mechanic, coupled with a knack for problem-solving and understanding how things worked.
When asked what kept him in the same role at the same company all these years, he replied, “I love what I do. I think that’s the only way to say it. I like the problem-solving aspect, but it’s getting more and more difficult these days with electronics going into systems.
The switch from cars to trucks two years after the start of his career planted the seed of what was to come for Padfield. “When I started, there wasn’t a lot of diesel in Bedfords, whereas today all the trucks run on diesel and not gasoline. Electronics and turbos have been among the biggest changes, ”he said, adding that it had been a truly rewarding career for him.
“It kept me sane. Not all problems are easy to fix, but you try to eliminate them all – sometimes it can be frustrating, but I really enjoyed it.
Patterson Cheney’s Director of Services, Wayne Murphy, says Padfield has been a pillar of his service strength and a cornerstone of knowledge for his colleagues.
“Roger was instrumental in helping us set up our afternoon shift when it started and he also supported our 24 hour service later,” said Murphy.
“Roger has done advice, part selection and interpretation, truck diagnostics for mechanics to help them identify problems faster, road tests, honestly he did a bit of everything, and did them brilliantly.
Like Padfield, Murphy has been in the business for many years – and they aren’t the only ones. “Wayne has been with Patterson Cheney for about 40 years. One of the guys who recently retired had been there for about 45 years and there are a few others who have been there for over 40 years as well, ”said Padfield.
“I think Patterson Cheney was good enough to keep as many people as possible. It’s a good company to work for, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have been there that long.
“At Patterson Cheney it’s a 10-year club and I’ve been at the top for many years and I’m the longest-serving member there. But I’m getting older and I’m not as fit as I used to be. I still have to try to do something and it was difficult with all these blockages. “
Padfield officially finished on July 16 and although his colleagues had a big start for him, Melbourne had just entered his fifth lockdown so things needed to be a bit more low-key.
Murphy praised Padfield for his contribution to the business. “It has been a privilege to work with Roger, who is not only very experienced but more than happy to share his knowledge with the rest of the Isuzu dealer network,” he said.
“We have all benefited from his skills and been inspired by his dedication to the brand. It is going to be so difficult to replace Roger that we are dividing his current role into two jobs.
Patterson Cheney is hoping to give Padfield a well-deserved big start once restrictions are relaxed, with a date yet to be confirmed.
Although travel is on hold for now, Padfield hopes to travel to New Zealand once restrictions are relaxed. “But I have to talk to my wife about it, I think,” he joked.