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My first step to success: Challenge of being the boss; Hefin Jones vehicle restorer.

Byline: Julie Richards-Williams

BEING in control of his own career has always been Hefin Jones' prime objective.

An expert panel beater and paint sprayer, he was never content working for someone else in a routine 9 to 5 job. So at the age of 24 he decided to become his own boss and despite having no capital, opened his own body shop, restoring all kinds of vehicles.

Five years have passed and thanks to Hefin's drive and determination, the Penmaenmawr-based business has flourished and from being a oneman band he now has a skilled team working for him.

``I always dreamed of setting up on my own and when the chance came, I simply grabbed it with both hands,'' Hefin says.

Ambitious as ever, he recently opened another body shop in Llanrwst, catering for coaches and lorries in need of his brand of tender loving care.

Now as well as giving old cars a second chance and doing minor body repairs, dents and scratches, up to major insurance claims on a variety of commercial vehicles, Hefin has another string to his bow.

He is the only person in North Wales to specialise in successfully customising cars for mainly young enthusiasts. It is a side to the business that he thoroughly enjoys and his eye-catching customised vehicles have been exhibited at major motor shows and featured in specialist magazines.

Hefin admits that he didn't enjoy his schooldays at Ysgol y Creuddyn in Penrhyn Bay, as he was more interested in practical rather than academic subjects.

A work experience placement with a Mochdre-based motor body repair centre fired his imagination and at the age of 16 he was taken on as an apprentice panel beater by Henlys of Craig y Don, a branch of a leading national dealership in Rolls Royce and Jaguar cars As part of his training he attended Llandrillo Training College one day a week and there found his true focus, absorbing knowledge like a sponge. At last he began to fulfil his true potential and passed his yearly exams with flying colours.

Hefin's work was extremely promising and his bosses sent him to London on various specialist courses. Unfortunately, after two years the business was taken over by a rival company and he was told his services were no longer required.

It was a shattering blow but undeterred, later that same day he had two job interviews lined up - one of them was with the garage where he had done his work experience. ``I had been happy there and knew the staff, so it made sense to go back,'' says Hefin, who completed his apprenticeship and stayed on for an extra year, becoming a time-served panel beater.

A workaholic, in his spare time he began restoring cars privately with the intention of one day setting up his own business.

At the age of 21 he took his first step to success when he went selfemployed and over the next couple of years worked in various garages whenever he was needed.

``During this time I made a point of picking up the skill of paint spraying from other craftsmen as I knew that the knowledge would prove invaluable in the future,'' Hefin says.

The turning point came in February 1998 when he had the opportunity to rent his own garage. The gamble paid off and within a few weeks work began to come in from private customers and then he landed two lucrative contracts from car traders.

`` If you want to succeed, be prepared to work hard and give your customers a good deal, `` he advises.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 1, 2002
Words:597
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