By PAUL MENSCH

BARRY Clarke has owned and operated Cav’s Cars on the corner of Thirteenth Street and San Mateo Avenue for more than 22 years, but now he finds retirement is beckoning.

Barry, 69, has been in the automotive business for 56 years, starting his career as a mechanic with Struab Engineering, then Mills Motors before moving to Mortimer Ford where he eventually moved to used car evaluations before becoming a salesman and then the sales manager for Jim Mock Ford.

Barry moved to Cav’s Cars where he eventually purchased the business from owner Fred Cavallaro in 1998, who had been running the business for 10 years.

“It was a pretty cost effective way to get into the business for myself,” Barry said.

“I decided to stick with the business name, as all of the paperwork, receipt books and signage was already in place, it would have cost a lot to rename the entire business back then.

“Over the years we have varied the business model. We started with body kits for cars and high performance extras, until these became factory options with many new vehicles.

“We then moved to stock a variety of commercial vehicles, until we moved towards the variety of vehicles we have stocked over the past few years.”

A testament to Barry’s business, is his salesman Troy Mills, who has been with him for the entire 22 years of operation and his detailer David Orsini has been with the company for 13 years.

“I would also like to thank Len Picken (deceased) and Kevin McKee for working part time whenever they were needed,” Barry said.

“In the time I have been in the trade I’ve made a lot of good friends, in other businesses such as upholsters, painters, panel beaters, windscreen and spare parts suppliers – quite a few of them have become good personal friends over my time here.

“I’m proud of the rapport and relationships I have built with customers and suppliers over the journey, and while the industry has become harder over the years, I have done pretty well out if it.

“Selling used cars has definitely become harder over the past few years, online sales and auctions have had an impact on our business, as well as new car dealers hanging onto used cars more and more often, having said that, you can still have a strong business in this industry.

“At this stage I plan to spend the next 12 months pottering around home, if I find I get bored, I might pick up a part-time job to keep me busy. On October 1, I will be handing over the yard to Blake Schloithe and his team at North Star Motors. The yard will now be North Star Pre-Owned.”