Barcelona contest like Olympics of auto-glazing

Smith & Smith Dunedin autoglazing technician Hamish Bedwell glues a windscreen in central Dunedin on Friday.

Smith & Smith Dunedin auto-glazing technician Hamish Bedwell, of Maori Hill, answers five questions from reporter Shawn McAvinue about representing New Zealand.

Q: Can you tell me about the national competition you won?

It was the Belron Best of New Zealand Competition, which was held in Auckland at the end of October, a month after I finished my apprenticeship. Belron is our parent company, which owns auto-glazing companies in about 30 countries. I competed against the five other best Smith & Smith guys in New Zealand.

The tasks in the competition included replacing a windscreen, repairing a chip, replacing a side window and some other activities and quizzes. I’ll represent New Zealand in Barcelona in June next year. I’ll be competing against about 30 other countries – it’s like the Olympics of auto-glazing. I’ll train in New Zealand for a few months, and then I’ll travel to Belgium a week before the competition to train on left-hand-drive cars.

Q: How do you think you’ll go working on left-hand-drive cars?

It could throw me off a bit. We had some American guys working for us in Dunedin last year and it was entertaining watching them get in the wrong side of the car and have to do the walk of shame to the other side.

Q: I suppose the challenge is overriding your muscle memory?

Yeah, that’s why I’m spending a week in Belgium to get used to it so with the right training hopefully I’ll be OK.

Q: What is the appeal of the work?

I enjoy a physical job – it’s nice replacing windscreens on cars and we get Lamborghinis, Mustangs, Ferraris, Porches, McLarens – all the fun cars.

Q: What is your future career ambition?

I’d like to get an opportunity to work on the technical side researching and designing all the processes and tools to make our job better, easier and safer – but I like doing what I’m doing at the moment so we’ll see where we go.