Caleb now a ticketed mechanic; auto-electrical and air-conditioning modules next on the list
TINKERING with cars has been a passion of Moree’s Caleb Thompkins since childhood, and now, this ambitious 19-year-old is forging a career from this long-standing pastime.
Caleb is Moree’s latest qualified mechanic, recently gaining his Light Auto Mechanics ticket following a four-year apprenticeship with Tyrepower Moree.
“I’ve always loved cars, and my uncle was a mechanic, so I knew pretty early on that’s what I wanted to do,” Caleb said.
And he certainly didn’t waste any time.
At just 15, and following a work experience stint at Moree Tyrepower, Caleb was offered a four-year apprenticeship.
Tyrepower Moree owners, James and Samantha Von Drehnen delight that they saw potential in Caleb instantly.
“His enthusiasm was obvious and he seemed to love hanging around the workshop – school wasn’t necessarily the right fit for Caleb so we organised through the Moree Secondary College for an early apprenticeship, and haven’t looked back,” James explained.
Samantha agrees, and couldn’t be any prouder of Caleb.
“He was always a beautifully mannered and a lovely boy, and he’s grown into a great communicator, which is a key skill for a mechanic to have,” she explains.
“Interaction with customers is so important, particularly for working through a diagnosis and solution efficiently and effectively, first time, and for customer follow-up.”
And Samantha laughs it’s not just Caleb’s skillset that’s grown over the past four years – he’s now six-feet tall.
Since 1985 James has started approximately 30 apprentices, of which around 20 have completed their trade.
“They generally start with us during those formative years, so our role is very much a holistic one, nurturing and supporting them through those tricky teenage issues,” James said.
“The pay for an apprentice also isn’t great, even though Tyrepower Moree pays above the minimum wage, and with this in mind we cover all of their fees and TAFE costs.”
James loves telling new apprentices straight up, ‘this is it; we’re married for four years’.
“There are so many great job opportunities out there for skilled tradespeople with a focus on attention to detail, it’s always a heart-warming day when our apprentices get their ticket,” he said.
And Caleb is no exception, with James now encouraging him to pursue further opportunities.
Next year Caleb plans to add to his qualifications by completing his auto-electrical and air-conditioning modules, making him all the more valuable as a skilled professional.
“I love the process of diagnosing a problem and working through to a solution – it’s such a satisfying sense of achievement, like solving a puzzling, and knowing I can physically fix something myself,” Caleb said.
“James and Samantha have been so helpful encouraging me and inspiring me, and there’s a real sense of family amongst all the Moree Tyrepower staff – I could never have imagined a better outcome when I started my work experience here all those years ago,” he smiled.
Words and Image: Georgina Poole