A continually increasing level of car imports into Guyana coupled with an as yet unfinished buildout of roads across coastal Guyana is opening up increasing opportunities for skilled mechanics willing to take on the challenging task of keeping vehicles on the roads and Don Hutson, who operates “Don’s Auto Repair” at 46 Friendship, East Coast Demerara is seeking to raise the bar higher in terms of reliability and professionalism in the service and repair sector.
Like so many other skilled operators in the trade, Don possesses no formal qualifications in the trade. That has, however, not prevented him from displaying a ‘knack’ for things mechanical over the past two years. “It was a regular bottom house workshop I started from. I never went to college, which would have been GTI. I only had high school education.” The lack of professional training never daunted him.
Having graduated from Buxton Community High School, he secured employment, first, at the Rainbow Taxi Service and subsequently at the Assanah Transport Service in Buxton.
As is customarily the case with so many young Guyanese, Don then saw migration as an option for upward mobility. He moved to St. Kitts and Nevis to join a brother who had moved there earlier. There, he secured a supervisory position at the Andeshe Auto Repairs, a local auto mechanical shop. Serving in the position for nine years he encountered new mechanical challenges and perhaps more importantly, became familiar with new tools that he had not used or encountered earlier. Imbued with a heightened confidence in his skills he became ‘infected’ with the idea of starting his own business…….back in Guyana.
Eventually, having accumulated some savings, he packed his bags, returned home and opened his own auto mechanic shop at a cousin’s residence in Friendship, opting not to locate at his home village, Kingelly Village, West Coast Berbice. Daily travel to work is an issue but for the purpose of patronage Friendship is an advantageous location. Despite the travel, the shop is open at 8:00 hrs, Monday to Friday.
Don says that there are peaks and troughs in the trade. The frequent appearance of recently manufactured, high performance vehicles in Guyana also presents new mechanical challenges. Keeping up with developments in the trade, not least the complexities of new engines is one of the challenges of the trade.
Then there are the vagaries of business. Vehicle owners don’t need his services every day. Christmas, he says, tends to bring a bit of a windfall……but then he throws in the old adage about Christmas ‘coming only once a year.’
Patronage is built primarily through ‘word of mouth’ marketing. The service includes repairs to air conditioning units.
Mindful of the competition that exists in the sector, the married father of four is seeking to complete work on his shop in order to compete more effectively with the more well-established businesses. After that, he says, he hopes to create a second ‘outlet’ in Berbice. Two of his children, he says, appeared inclined to follow in his professional footsteps and he wants to pave the way for them.