Working off an $80 debt has led to a career in car sales as a Wodonga man celebrated 25 years at Alessi Motors yesterday.
Sales consultant Paul Stiler was working as a carpenter in 1968 when he had the debt servicing his new VW Beatle at Gregory Motors in Townsend Street, Albury.
Geoffery Gregory rang him and told him he better come work the bill off at just $5 commission on each sale.
“I stayed there and paid it off and he gave me an offer to stay,” Mr Stiler said.
“That’s how I got started.
“And I haven’t looked back.”
The born and bred Wodonga grandfather said selling his first car — a Mazda — was a struggle, without much training.
“In those days you had to fly by the seat of your pants,” he said.
But 46 years later, Mr Stiler has sold more than 5500 vehicles and specialises in small cars.
“People know you and they come back. It gets a bit easier,” he said. “The people who I sell to are beautiful people.”
Mr Stiler stayed at Gregory Motors, later named Arnold Motors, for a decade until he left to open his own dealership, Melrose Motors, where Toyota operates in Wodonga today.
Another 10 years later, after a short stint at Phillip Car Sales in Osborne Street, he joined Alessi Motors, serving as general manager at one stage.
Mr Stiler said working at the family friendly and supportive dealership had been “brilliant”.
“I’ve been very well treated all these years — it’s been an excellent place to work,” he said.
Tony Alessi said Mr Stiler was a great salesman at the almost 44-year-old company, always delivering customer satisfaction.
“Paul is our longest serving employee and the best we’ve had,” Mr Alessi said.
“He’s been an asset to our dealership.”
Mr Stiler, 67, thanked Mr Alessi and his wife Roslynda for the opportunity to work for them for so long and continue past retirement age.
“As long as they’re happy with what I’m doing and as long as my health holds out, I have no intention of retiring soon,” he said.