The Gilberd family has turned misfortune into motivation, and they’re using that motivation to re-open the iconic Brightwater Motors.

The family of four relocated to the Tasman region from Wellington late last year, in search of more space and a better lifestyle.

Dave, who worked as a contracted engineer for Air New Zealand, had worked in Nelson before, with the family spending five months in Nelson in 2018.

“We loved Wellington, but we wanted to find somewhere with a bit more space. We spent five months here, and we fell in love,” says Natalie Gilberd.

A year later, the family made it happen.

“Initially, we landed on our feet. We both found ourselves in great places to work,” Natalie says.

However Covid-19 struck, and Dave was one of the many engineers who lost their job when Air New Zealand made the decision to close its heavy engineering facility in Nelson.

“We really didn’t think there was a risk of Dave losing work, then we had a zoom meeting and we were given the bad news,” Natalie says.

Within the hour, the couple were trying to plan for the future. Now, the family is set to take on Brightwater Motors, a decades-old establishment in Brightwater.

“I wanted to start a business – I had worked for myself for years, so I knew I could do it,” Dave says.

A bit of research told Dave that car repair and mechanics did well in recessions. The self-declared petrol head wouldn’t have a problem learning the ropes either.

“I’ve been taking cars apart since I was a kid, in my dad’s garage.”

“It was a shock losing my job, but it pretty rapidly turned into excitement.”

After his start in learning about cars in his dad’s garage, Dave did his apprenticeship with the New Zealand Air Force in the 90’s, with a stint working in the UK for a New Zealand manufacturing company.

He also started his own guitar-making company in 2011, custom-building guitars for international artists such as Sinéad O’Connor. He also worked as an engineer in the film industry in Wellington for five years, working on films like ‘Ghost in the Shell’ and ‘Blade Runner: 2049.’

Despite a long and varied career, Dave describes the transition to a mechanic in Brightwater as ‘the perfect fit.’

“We’re very excited. Brightwater is a great community, and I’m really happy to be opening Brightwater Motors. The reins have been handed over, and people have really missed the place.”

Neighbouring petrol station NPD bought the workshop side of Brightwater Motors last year, but it has sat empty while NPD has been refurbishing its facilities.

“It’s great to see the old workshop up and running again,” says former owner Tom Horncastle, a Brightwater local who ran the operation for many years.

“I wish Dave all the best.”

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