Eagers Automotive

Lorraine Curley | Payroll Specialist

Lorraine Curley

A link to the past

Upon starting with Eagers Automotive NZ in February 2020 in the capacity of Payroll Project Specialist, Lorraine realised she was working for a company that her grandfather had worked for some 50 years earlier.

John W Andrew & Sons Ltd, now known as John Andrew Group, and part of the Eagers Automotive NZ group, was where her grandfather, Francis Cecil White, had spent most of his working life.

Born in Auckland in 1904, Cec, as he was known, went to sea at the tender age of 16 yrs, working as a ‘cabin boy’ on the coastal sailing ships moving freight up and down the length of NZ. When her eldest son went to sea, Cec’s mother made him promise that he would not come home with any tattoo’s as was common amongst sailors of the day. Respecting his mothers wishes, he never did.

One stormy night at sea, the sailing ship Cec was working on was washed onto the rocks on Kapiti Island off the lower North Island, a large wave washing young Cec overboard. Early the next morning in the galley of the stranded ship, the crew were all sadly discussing how they would tell Cec’s mother that he had drowned at sea, when he walked in! Having managed to swim to shore in the darkness, he had spent a wet and cold night on the beach, making his way out to the ship at low tide in the morning. With no communications, the crew were all stranded on Kapiti Island for some months. They were taken in and looked after by local Maori, until a supply ship came, and they were able to get a ride back to the mainland.

In 1927, at the age of 23, having had enough of life at sea, Cec got a job with John W Andrew & Sons Ltd in Khyber Pass, (later moving to Symonds Street), Auckland in the parts department.

During his time with John W Andrews’, while his primary job was in parts, Cec also taught many customers to drive their new cars. Particularly in the early days, for most customers, this was the first car they had ever owned. Cec would drive them from the city out to Otahuhu where the roads were much quieter, he would teach them how to drive their brand-new purchase before sending them on their way.

Cecil worked his way up to Parts Manager, and after 25 years of service, as was tradition at the time, received an engraved gold watch. His service continued until he officially retired in 1964 at age 60. However, at this time John W Andrew were wanting to implement a new parts stock system and Cec agreed to come back and work on the implementation of this. He finally retired at age 65 in 1969 after 42 years’ service. The Company presented him with an engraved silver platter to commemorate this achievement.

Lorraine was initially employed on a three-month contract, and 3 years on is still here. The projects I was initially employed to do have long since been completed. ‘My role has evolved over the past three years to now provide support to the business with training on our People systems and centralised Recruitment. It is great to have a link to the past, working for a company I know Grandpa enjoyed working for. I can honestly say I won’t be aiming to achieve the length of service Grandpa did, but like Grandpa, I really enjoy my job and the great people that make Eagers and all their dealerships, a great place to work.’

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