Miranda Ellis: Made of the Right Mettle

25 Nov 2014

"Waiariki honestly gave me the tools where I was able to live my dream." says Tokoroa’s Miranda Ellis.

While simply achieving their dreams would give some a reason to embrace a slower pace of life, for Miranda opening the doors on her own business, E&H Mechanical was only the shifting of gears. Backed by her husband and fellow Waiariki Automotive and Engineering graduate Roger Hamon, the couple has been swamped with work, expanding their business to cope with rising demand.

Yes, the headstrong entrepreneur has literally gone from being a Waiariki Automotive and Engineering student, to employing Waiariki Automotive and Engineering students.

"I’d always wanted to do engineering or mechanics, but I didn’t know how to go about it," Miranda states, reflecting on the passion given to her by growing up around the garage of her engineer father. "When I was introduced to the qualifications at Waiariki, I thought ‘To hell with it, I’ll go for it’ and I got in. Three years later, I was out with a trade."

"Waiariki was a very family orientated place and my tutors always made me feel equal. Never treated me any different. When I first got there, there were a few other females on the course, and I think they had different objectives than I did. We were treated as females though and not given the good jobs like changing a gearbox or something like that, we were given everyday warrants and the same old mundane things.

"That was until I stood up and said ‘Look, I’m sick of this. I’m sick of oil changes. I want to do something worthwhile.’ And that was it. Every single job after that, my tutor John Walls turned around and said ‘Alright girl, you’ve spoken up, here you go’ and I loved it. Absolutely loved it."

After graduating, Miranda took her passion to Australia, where her and her husband worked gaining experience for four years. It was then her inner drive started calling the pair home, to open E&H Mechanical.

"We sunk all our savings into a white truck and my husband and I just started going around to the local truck places and fleet owners saying ‘Look, here we are. We are mobile. We can do anything you want.’"

With G.J. Sheldrake first to take them up on the offer, the duo soon built their client base up to the point they could get into a workshop - and that’s where the pair’s success really hit top gear. While their workshop previously housed a diesel mechanic for whom business wasn’t so successful, Miranda never doubted Tokoroa’s potential.

"We are just slammed all the time right now. It is fantastic. A lot of people said to us ‘Do you think Tokoroa is the place to open a workshop?’ I believe it is and so we took the risk - and it was a huge risk - and now we haven’t had a day off in two years."Admitting that having to spend less time on the workshop floor to handle her managerial responsibilities has been a hard sacrifice to make, Miranda feels it has all been worth it to be able to drive her dream forward.

"I can’t blame anyone else if it fails in parts. It’s all up to me. My Waiariki tutors, John Walls, Graham Savage and Scott Hearn installed that in me. In mechanics you’ve either got it or you haven’t and you never know that until you take that step."

With that step well and truly taken, and having employed people from a range of training backgrounds, she now highlights what she sees as the benefits of employing Waiariki graduates.

"Waiariki students especially have the good habits that you look for. When you go and get an apprenticeship out in the workplace, you generally learn bad habits from the other mechanics that teach you, whereas with Waiariki, you start off straight away with good habits. How they do things is absolutely correct, there are no cutting corners and that sort of thing. It is a peace of mind.

"I had a Level 4 Waiariki graduate here for about two months and I could just leave her. That’s a huge thing as a business owner. I can’t be paying employees a hell of a lot of money and have to constantly go and help them out.

"There are two types of people in my world; those who make me money and those who cost me money. Waiariki students start making me money straight away."

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Page last updated: 02 May 2017