Staff Spotlight: Kelvin Walters, Auto Electrician
Kelvin Walters was persuaded to step into the spotlight this quarter and it was an absolute pleasure talking to him. He will be celebrating 17 years of working with WG Davies this January and must surely be one of only a tiny minority who can boast that he was headhunted by Roger himself!
From school Kelvin worked for Sharps Auto Electrical in Cwmavon, where he completed a five-year apprenticeship. He stayed on with them for a while after that was completed and then moved to WG Davies. It seemed fair to assume he always wanted to work with vehicles but he was quick to correct that, “I actually wanted to be a teacher when I was at school. I like sports, so I was thinking about something in Sport Science and I was going to go to college, but then this apprenticeship came up, I went for it and got it.”
We put it to him that auto electricians practice a black art, that is part skill and part magic, and wondered if that is what attracted him to it. Kelvin explained, “When I was a kid, I was told you can be a fool without money or a fool with money. I wanted to be the latter, so I thought I should knuckle down and get some qualifications. These day I like to be the person who everyone asks what's wrong with a vehicle, when they have exhausted every avenue – if I don't know, no one will.“
For the first eight years Kelvin was WG Davies only “sparky”. He worked out of the Swansea branch but was field based, travelling all around South Wales. He could not have known then how vital his skills would become. We suggested he would soon be nothing short of a God! Kelvin laughed, “Yes definitely with the new electrical systems coming out and the new TGE, there's quite a lot to get my head around to ensure I can help everyone out. The new vehicles are all going to be electric and that keeps me in a good place.” A fool with even more money we joked? “Yes exactly!” he agreed.
We were curious to understand what it was about WG Davies that had kept him with them for so long, without hesitation Kelvin told us, “It is Roger and his father when I first started, they treated me really well. I've been through quite a lot of heartache over the years and they've supported me. In 2019 I lost my daughter, she was only 10 and I had six months off work. Roger and Debbie regularly came up to the house to check in with me and they paid me for the six months. Over the years they've always been very good to me and I will repay that with loyalty. I'll probably stay with them to the end of my time.”
On a day to day basis Kelvin enjoys that he is trusted to get on with his job, “I'm left to my own devices and I enjoy fixing vehicles. It feels good to get to the bottom of an issue. If someone has an electrical problem they call me out, I will plug the laptop in but the laptop won't tell you exactly what the problem is, you've got to work it out. So you start testing systems … With electrical issues it's usually three hours to find the fault and three seconds to fix it.”
His view of the future is that “Everyone will need to step up a little bit and be a more rounded technician, with both electrical and mechanical skills. The future is exciting. We're constantly learning because new systems are coming up every day. I even did a night school in domestic electrics about 12 years ago, I'm very interested in the electronic side of things.”
Away from work Kelvin enjoys traveling and plays rugby for his local team Pontrhydyfen RFC. “I've played for them for 28 years.” he told us, “I’ve picked up few injuries along the away and my bicep is ripped, my fingers are all broken and my ears are torn, nothing serious. (Ed: we beg to differ!) I'm 40 in January but I’m still enjoying it, although this is probably my last season.” Happily he can fall back on his committee duties when his playing days are over, as he is the bar manager at Ponty.
Christmas for Kelvin will a be busy, full on family affair, “We will be here, there and everywhere; visiting my sister's house in Baglan for a big dinner and a knees up with my Mum. We will also visit my girlfriend's parents’ house close to where we live in Neath. And of course there will be time with my son Charlie, who is 17 next year, we do lots of things together. He likes rugby and comes up to the rugby club with me or into Cardiff to watch an international, the last one we watched together was Wales versus Australia.”
Kelvin has suffered more tragedy that most of us could even begin to process and yet he is upbeat and grateful for the support he has had along the way. It was humbling and a real pleasure talking to him, thank you for stepping into the spotlight and for being so open with us.