Our People: Dan Smith

Dan Smith is the leading repair hand at the CityDepot container workshop.

But previously, he has worked in almost every aspect of the hospitality industry all around Europe.

While he was only meant to leave New Zealand for a year, it turned into nearly an 11-year stint.

“I worked all over the UK, doing door and bar work,” says Dan.

“I worked in Toulon and Toulouse in France, Andorra in the Pyrenees. I worked in some of the biggest clubs in Ibiza and around Spain and then ran bars in northeast England before I came home.”

With a love of travel, living in Europe was the perfect spot for Dan.

“When I was younger, I might work for a few months and then travel for a couple of months. You could sit at the airport and wait for people who missed their flights. I went to Ireland multiple times for a pound. I went to America for the departure tax, which was like 12 pounds at the time.”

But after meeting his wife overseas, they eventually settled in New Zealand and have two children now aged 12 and 14.

However, Dan’s life took an unexpected turn when he was made redundant shortly after his first daughter was born.

“My wife was going to take a year off, and three months into her staying at home, I got made redundant, so I became a stay-at-home dad for nine months.”

The biggest challenge for Dan was having little alone time.

“Even when you want to go to the toilet, someone’s coming with you. I thought it would be the last thing I’ll do, but it was probably pretty good for me.”

At the end of the nine months, Dan was eager to return to the workforce and, one day, walked off the street and into workshop manager Tyrone’s office.

Dan has been part of the repair team for 13 and a half years and still loves his job.

“I’ve always been one of those people who like problem-solving, puzzles, and all that stuff. So they’re just big puzzles, especially when they’re wrecked.

“You’ve also got a lot of time to think – and I like that. It’s quite peaceful; even though it’s loud and banging, it’s a quite peaceful place.”

“I didn’t think it was going to be this long. I fully understand why they say the port is for life now.”

In his role as leading hand, he is also responsible for the team’s work.

“I organise how we’re going to go about a day, especially if we’ve got a lot of work to do together. I do all our orders for the equipment and parts we need. I also do training.”

When he’s not fixing up containers, he’s fixing up cars at home.

“I grew up in a panel-beating shop that my dad had, and I’ve been around cars and steel things most of my life.

“I build a lot of engines for people as well. I quite like the fiddly side of things.”

His current projects include a couple of Cortinas and an old 1979 ambulance.

“I want to put the ambulance back on the road and use it. I’d love nothing more than my kids, when they are a little bit older, take it and go and see New Zealand.”

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