Ken Mitchell is retiring after working at Mosgiel's Lean McLeod Auto Services for 50 years. Photo by Craig Baxter.
When Ken Mitchell started work as a Mosgiel mechanic the
Beatles were at the top of the charts and the pound was New
Zealand's official currency.
Mr Mitchell (65) retired last Friday after working at Lean
McLeod Auto Services - which has gone through two name
changes and a change in location - for just over 50 years.
Speaking to the Taieri Times the day before he
retired, Mr Mitchell said getting to know customers and
having a bit of ''banter'' would be one of the things he
missed most about the job.
''I always used to joke about things and they used to bring
morning tea in and afternoon tea in.''
Over the years he had built up relationships with many
customers and felt privileged to be invited to some of their
''It's a really good thing to be there and to know the story
about the person [whose vehicle] you have serviced ... all
''Knowing some of the older people that have passed away has
been life-changing, really. It's just been really good to
know them,'' he said.
The job had changed a lot since he started when he was only
15 years old.
Back then you ''had to listen to where the noise was'',
whereas today, computers were used to find problems.
''It's basically electronic stuff now.''
In the past there was also more work adding ''extras'' - such
as heaters, mud flaps, tow bars and radios - to new cars.
He felt now was the right time to retire, as he had plenty of
work to do around the house, before ''something happens to
me, meaning I can't move around''.
Between 1972 and 1982, Mr Mitchell juggled his job and family
life with playing wing for the Otago rugby side.
He enjoyed his time playing rugby, but it did mean missing
out on time with his children.