It’s rare to meet a woman who owns and runs a garage so when we do, we want to know more about them, their business and how they manage to juggle family responsibilities.
In this instance we’re talking to an inspiring female business owner, Hayley Pells, who runs Avia Autos in Bridgend.
Please tell us about your job and what it entails.
I run Avia Autos and we carry out MOT tests, mechanical repairs and the maintenance of cars and light commercial vehicles. We’re a small business and as such my role has to be incredibly varied. I work in the workshop, mainly performing MOTs but I also look after the payroll, our tax affairs & accounts, ordering parts & supplies, maintaining our equipment & licenses as well as organising our events, marketing and advertising. And cleaning the loo too! As you can see mine is a very glamorous role!
There are four of us in the workshop and there is a 50/50 gender split. Every one works on the shop floor and in the office.
I have become more involved in the local business community recently and I enjoy participating in the national automotive aftermarket community.
I have also represented my Company internationally at the SEMA show in Las Vegas.
On occasion I speak at colleges and events encouraging young people into our industry.
How did you become an MOT tester?
My business was started by my father and I have also worked with my husband who has a classic car workshop and is also a MOT tester. They were the original MOT testers.
I got qualified after my son was very ill at 4 weeks old. He required intensive medical care and we needed to be more flexible to cope with the situation. Expanding my job role was the obvious answer, drawing on skills I already had and formalising them with a recognised qualification.
In all honesty, becoming a MOT tester was something I meant to do years ago and I have found it has given me greater job satisfaction as well as industry credibility.
I also found that becoming a mother for the first time brought out my inner tiger. The business is responsible for four people and their families and although Henry’s illness made for a very scary time for us all there is something incredibly empowering about taking positive action and improving the situation.
Happily Henry (my son) has made an astonishing recovery and whilst he continues to require some careful monitoring we are very grateful to all of the hospitals that look after him.
Can you recommend this to women and how might interested females find out more?
I love my job and would recommend this career path to anyone who has both an interest in cars and the desire to work for themselves.
Having said this, it can be physically and mentally demanding at times.
There are always training courses to complete and it has never been so important to remain up to date with new technology and legislation.
At our workshop we provide a genuinely supportive and caring environment. Yes someone has to steer the ship and that person is me, but everyone has an important contribution to our journey and everyone has a say in where we are going.
I think women are naturally suited to this role in business and we’re lucky to be able to carry out several tasks simultaneously.
It’s probably true that there are more women doing precisely this in the automotive industry than the general public believes – could it be that we’re all too busy to stop and think how our gender makes us different?
It is becoming increasingly easy to link up with other women thanks to social media and the likes of FOXY Lady Drivers Club putting the spotlight on women in this industry.
What do you think about the Government’s proposal to delay a car’s first MOT from 3 to 4 years?
There is no reason why a well maintained car needs to worry about its MOT regardless of the frequency. It will pass after 3 or 4 years if it has been looked after properly.
If this change happens, I do not think it will impact on our business as the vast majority of our clients understand the importance of regular maintenance and how it saves them money on repairs. This is in addition to the nice feeling of driving a car that you know is safe!
Yes, there will be a group of people that will neglect to maintain their vehicles and there is a danger that this group will simply ignore their car until the MOT, whenever it is, but that group is dangerous on the road irrespective of when they have to bring their car in for its MOT. I’d like to see more education in this area.
It could be considered that a car that passes first time should not have to be seen for 24 months, a car with minor failures could be seen once every 12 months and a car with dangerous fails should be tested every 4 weeks until it has moved out of the dangerous category! Rewarding safe cars and keeping the dangerous ones off the road would be my preferred strategy here.
For example, I drive a 1954 Ford and the government decided that, as a demographic group, all owners of pre 1960 vehicles are so safe on the road because of their owners’ keen interest in their vehicles that these vehicles do not require a MOT test at all. I see no reason not to expand this thinking to other safe and responsible car owners.
I suppose the trick would be how to determine what makes an owner safe and responsible (apart from having great taste and dedication to keeping a pre-1960 vehicle on the road) and perhaps the administration of that is so vast that it’s easier to have everyone in once a year!
Thank you Hayley for sharing your career pathway, MOT insight and encouragement for more women to follow in your footsteps. We look forward to working together to promote your FOXY Lady Approved workshop to more women drivers in Bridgend.
NB: In exchange for feedback about Avia Autos, all women receive a free lifetime Online Member subscription to FOXY Lady Drivers Club as a gift from this business.