Future Leaders of the Industry

Flying in new directions

It may have been a project and curiosity that drew Lois Pagana to the repair industry, but his mentors and love of cars keeps him excelling.

While it might have been a backyard project and a lot of curiosity that drew Lois Pagana into the repair industry, it is the support of his mentors and a love of cars that keeps him excelling.

For Pagana, it began with that familiar and memorable experience of his first car. He was one of many young people who, on leaving school, think their destiny lies through the portals of a university but Pagana quickly learned that passion is sometimes a better guide to a career path.

“I actually got into the industry because I bought my first car with my brother and we spray painted that car with rattle cans,” the fourth-year apprentice spray-painter says.

“I wasn’t really heavily into cars then. I went to uni as well and I was studying aeronautical engineering, but I found that it was a bit too much theory for me and I wanted to do some hands-on work. 

“And then in 2020, I was buying and selling (restored) cars and I got a Honda Integra Type A and did a lot of work on that, fixing it up.”

The pleasure of restoration became the slow revelation for him.

“I really enjoy working on cars and I thought; I want to do that full time and that’s when I applied for TAFE,” he says.

“I wasn’t sure what to do exactly, so I simply applied for spray painting. When I went to TAFE for the first time, I remember there was an alternative GTR that was getting painted there and I was amazed. This was so cool, and I said, I want someday to be able to work on cool cars like that and learn to work on it properly, so that you know your stuff.” 

His passion for learning was backed up not only at TAFE but at Fix Auto Morley where he was first employed. 

“I really enjoy learning and when I went into that workshop, I told the bosses I just wanted to learn, and I wanted to keep growing as a person, to learn everything to do with spray painting and even the actual business as well. I wanted to learn how to quote and other roles like that.” 

He has done his first three years as an apprentice and looks forward to completing his final unit in fourth year. 

“I didn’t find it hard. Obviously, there’s some challenges with the work-life balance, but I never thought of work as a burden because I always really enjoyed it.”

Pagana believes it is important to be driven by a pride in his work and a passion to get progressively better.

“It’s just an incredible feeling after you finish the job, and you just look at it and you have that, “I did that!” kind of feeling. It’s not just simply finishing a job, it’s because you want to perfect the job.” 

Part of this for him is to take an approach of continuous learning, something he was well supported in at Fix Auto Morley.

“Travis Arnold, my manager, gave me a lot of support and he was really helpful for me at every opportunity; if I wanted to paint more, he just let me paint, if I wanted to learn other stuff, he just let me do that. 

“Then I got an opportunity to work at a BMW repairer. Travis was really supportive of that, even though it was a bit hard to leave that workshop. It’s always sad. 

“But I wanted to be able to go into the office and learn about estimating and other things in order to one day own my own business and I told Travis and that’s why he’s was so supportive.”

Pagana has since started working at Autobody and Paint, Osborne Park whose expertise in repairing BMWs has ignited another level of passion for his craft.

“It’s pretty cool and it’s almost scary at the same time, working on new BMWs, working on cars I’ve never knew even existed. It’s just a different level.” 

He is appreciative of all the support he has gained and his advice for young people, is that with the right attitude to learning, repair is an industry that can help fulfill career dreams.

“I really want to get to that next step. And hopefully, will have my own business in about five years or so,” he says 

“Learn as much as you can. Just keep learning and just enjoy the learning.”

Know a Future Leader?

Do you know someone who is a future leader in the industry?  The Future Leaders series run by The National Collision Repairer is a showcase of individuals in the industry who display outstanding future potential and growth. NCR extends the invitation to organisations and businesses to nominate people who fit this description. NCR believes this is a great opportunity to promote the best of people in collision repair and create role models for other up-and-coming staff.  This series is not limited to young people but anybody within the industry who has demonstrated a level of excellence and displays a potential for growth and leadership.

Send the National Collision Repairer magazine a name and a few lines on what they do and why you think they qualify as a future leader.

Email eugene.duffy@primecreative.com.au

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