Doug Lane has been waking at 6am every morning for the past 38 years to come in and open his beloved auto shop on Wallace Street.
But tomorrow his morning routine will feel a little jarring.
After nearly four decades of servicing the town’s vehicles at D&B Autos he has decided to call it a day.
Or perhaps it’s fairer to say that his wife, Beryl (the ‘B’ of D&B Autos), has finally been able to convince him to hang up his tools.
With Doug now at 76 years of age, it’s probably a good call on Beryl’s part.
But it hasn’t been an easy decision for either of them; the pair leave a long legacy as business operators in Macksville, possibly only pipped by Elwood’s John Wood as longest-serving traders in the area.
“As far as the Lanes go, this is truly the end of an era – our family has been in the auto business since 1947. And I’m the last one,” Doug said.
His father and three brothers first opened up shop on Matilda Street 71 years ago, before building the dealership where Geoff King Eastland now resides right before the highway went through.
Doug was asked to come on board as a car salesman and NRMA serviceman at the family business in 1968, before finally branching off into his own auto business on Wallace Street in 1980, although he still strongly remembers his time in NRMA attending numerous horrific crashes.
Back in the eighties, when he first opened D&B he used to operate on a fair few logging trucks.
He recalls the lion’s share of the work involved working on differentials and gearboxes.
And I remember clear as day one morning when I came to work and opened the door to a blast of sunshine – one of the jinkers had come off the logging trucks in the garage and put a hole clear through the roof.Doug Lane
He also had contracts servicing NSW police vehicles and railway line maintenance vehicles for a good number of years.
“I remember those railway vehicles well – some of them had special wheels alongside their normal ones which allowed them to mount the railway tracks and travel along them,” Doug said.
And he remembers doing a day a week out at Cockburn’s mill at Warrell Creek for years too.
In those 38-odd years, the pair have employed half a dozen apprentices, and had three Rouses work for them.
And Malcolm Ward – their longest-serving and most loyal employee – has been at it in the D&B garage for about 35 of those years.
Doug and Beryl have had their struggles in that time – the toughest time being when MidCo closed down.
“But then the whole town struggled then,” Beryl said.
“And like any small business you have your good and bad months – there were some times when we questioned if we should continue to stay open.
“But it’s the loyalty and friendship of the people that work for you that makes the difference.”
And it hasn’t all been without reward – the pair have managed to get a fair bit of travel in when Beryl could drag Doug away for a month here and there, and have visited the USA, Europe, Asia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.
The pair are having a small do this evening at the workshop with champagne, nibbles and friends to celebrate a lifetime of auto accomplishment; “I think it’s something to be very proud of,” Beryl said.
And both agree it will be a shock to the system tomorrow morning when they wake up and don’t have to open shop.
“But then I’m looking forward to staying home, playing with my [1941 Willy’s] Jeep and doing a bit of gardening,” Doug said, proving you’ll never get the grease out from under his nails.
And the pair are looking forward to doing a bit of work around the community with their newly spare time.
“We’re well-entrenched in this community. Macksville’s our home town and it’s been good to us,” Beryl said.
And we’d like to thank our customers for their loyalty and friendship over all the years.
The pair say there’s been a bit of consternation around town about the business closing. But while the ‘D’ and the ‘B’ are moving on from D&B Autos, the ‘auto’ part wont be.
“This has been a garage for 90 years and will still continue to be,” Doug said.
We at Guardian News would like to wish Doug and Beryl a very happy and well-deserved retirement.