It was 1969, 50 years ago, when three young workmates were spending their days underneath the panels of smashed up cars, panel beating them back into shape for their grateful customers.
Bob McInnes, Trevor Lock and Brian Hartley were all car mad, they would even work on cars in their backyards after work for ‘mates’.Wendy McInnes
But something in Bob knew that he wanted to work in his own business, so after saying farewell to their boss at Stanbill Motors, Bob, Trevor and Brian started BTB Smash Repairs, (their intitials inspired the name BTB.)
Business was so brisk, three years later they moved from their Forest Street premises to 1 Wood Street, Bendigo where BTB still operates from today.
At its peak, there were between 40 and 50 employees, operating the tow trucks, RACV Breakdown Service, a windscreen offshoot in High Street, and mechanical services as well.
The T and second B of the business left to start on different projects of their own, and in 2001, Bob and Wendy stayed with the smash repairs, and became BTB Accident Repair Centre.
The couple managed the business, with Wendy doing the bookwork and wages, while the different family members worked there from time to time, or came on board permanently.
Today BTB Accident Repair Centre employs 18 staff, and owner Wendy McInnes says they have a great bunch of employees, and a very happy and workable workplace.
“A lot of our staff have been with us for over 10 years and our daughter Nikki has been employed with us for 26 years.
“Bob would be so proud, reaching 50 years in business. Unfortunately he isn’t with us today as he lost his battle with cancer on the March 9, 2017,” Wendy adds.
Wendy smiles as she remembers meeting Bob for the first time as a 16 year old.
“I worked at Every’s in King Street and Bob was 17. He was car mad of course, and I would be in my best twin set, peering under the bonnet of a car with him.
“He showed me everything to do with cars; when he wanted to work out where the rattles were, he would drive along with me in the boot, trying to pin point the noises.
“When he taught me to drive, and I got my licence, we changed those arrangements.”
“Bob was a great talker too, a bit of a showman in his day. Bob and Trevor even made up a car for the Easter Procession many years ago.
“It had a front of a car at each end, and our two kids and Trevor’s two would ride along like royalty in the procession.
“We are sure he would be extremely proud of where the business has come from and where it is heading into the future, with the next generation of our family coming through.
“Our daughter Nikki, her husband Dean who is the manager, and son Sam are also employed here.”
Over the years Wendy says the suppliers too have helped make the business a success.
“We still deal locally with Boltons, Poyser Motors and Perrows Paints, just to name a few.”
For the succession plans, the business is definitely a family affair.
“Nikki’s son Sam is an apprentice panel beater in the business, and we have more grandchildren who might choose to work there someday; Dimity, Brodie, Amelia, Jules and Jonty,” Wendy adds.
With the amount of kangaroos in our region, smash repairs and BTB Accident Repair Centre will continue to be a steady as she goes industry, hopefully for the next 50 years as Wendy said.