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July 22, 2024 7:08 AM

Hedgy smashes fifty years

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Greg Hedges (left) pictured with his wife Brenda.

BY ALEX TIGANI

Greg Hedges (left) pictured with his wife Brenda.

“If you are going to do a job, do it properly the first time.”

This was the mantra that the late Rodney Hedges, affectionately known as ‘Darby’, passed on to his 13-year-old nephew Greg Hedges when the two panel beaters commenced their business in 1970.

Fast forward to today and Greg and his team at ‘Greg Hedges Smash Repairs’ will clock up their 50th year of service in the Singleton community next month.

Greg still has a clear memory of his first day on the job.

“My uncle was a panel beater and I was helping him running cars down as a ten-year-old,” Mr Hedges recalled to the Hunter River Times.

“Darby said if they are giving you a hard time at school then you come and work for me.’

“I started when I was 13 and nine months old and for whatever reason I can remember the first pay I received which was exactly $22.44.”

After half a century of service for the Singleton community, the now 63-year-old Mr Hedges has showed no signs of stopping anytime soon.

“I am hoping that Greg Hedges is still going in 150 years’ time,” he continued.

“We have my young nephew out there and he’ll be the boss later in time and running it all and (my wife) Brenda and myself will be sitting back.

The business has grown from humble beginnings in the shed of their family home, to their iconic location on John Street for 40 years before relocating to Maison Dieu in 2011.

An estimated 66 apprentices have honed their craft within the walls of the business which has catered for well over 100 staff members since its inception.

Mr Hedges admits the job has come with a great responsibility overtime when attending to motor vehicle accidents across the region.

Sadly, he has lost count of the number of fatalities he has attended alongside the police and coroners of the district.

“When I first started, if we did not do 20 tows from the Putty Road it was a quiet week.

He recalled one particular call out with a number of fatalities and about 10,000 worth of coins because one gentleman owned the vending machines.

“We just had to pick it up and put it in a bag.”

Thankfully, there have been cherished memories as well with the support of his loyal colleagues and associates.

In the month leading up to his workplace’s golden jubilee Mr Hedges has paid tribute to former colleagues Phil Davis and Greg Hall as well as his ANZ Bank manager Bruce Foster.

As the business developed over time, it expanded its helping hand to the local sporting community as sponsor.

Mr Hedges himself is a life member of both the Singleton Darts Association as well as the Singleton Touch Football Association such has been his longevity with each local group.

“You name the sport in town and we’ve probably sponsored them,” he admitted.

“The community comes to us so it was only fair that we give back to the community.

“My only disappointment is that after 50 years the Singleton Council hasn’t named a street after me yet.”

His wife Brenda, who he has praised as the backbone of the business, then playfully added, “You can tell he’s humble.”

Much has changed for Greg Hedges in the past 50 years nevertheless his staff members have always donned the Parramatta colours of blue and gold.

That has been the policy since day one.

When asked if his fellow Eels fans receive special discounts he responded with a humble smile.

“They get looked after very well,” he concluded.

*This story was published on Friday, June 19 2020.

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