Service station owners to step back

Jon Solmundson, GERALDTON GUARDIANGeraldton Guardian
BP Tarcoola staff Bhavin Panchal, Diane Haffernan and Kylie Collins with station owner Martin Padbury.
Camera IconBP Tarcoola staff Bhavin Panchal, Diane Haffernan and Kylie Collins with station owner Martin Padbury. Credit: Jon Solmundson

A long-time local business owner will be stepping down his operation to spend more time with his family.

BP Tarcoola and Shell Wonthella will soon become Coles Express service stations as Martin Padbury sells off two of his five stores around Geraldton.

The agreement was signed on December 18.

The BP will switch over on February 29 with the Shell station following shortly after on April 5.

Mr Padbury came to the decision after he suffered a heart attack on his return from a trip to Croatia in 2014.

“That gave us an insight into what we need to do with our family. It’s only my wife and I, and our two kids in town — it was a wake-up call really,” he said.

“We blinked; our son was only one when we got into this business and he’s coming up to 19, I sort of thought ‘where did those years go?’ You can’t get them back but you can enjoy them.

“I did have some difficulty afterwards, and that’s what really got us thinking ‘what if something does go wrong, how is my wife going to run these five sites?’

“We’re downsizing, just to get some family life, get a more balanced life really.”

The sale means staff will have to reapply for their jobs through Coles and Mr Padbury said this was the hardest part of his decision to sell.

“We got some great staff who have been with us. Our manager at Wonthella has been with us for 17 years, these girls (at BP Tarcoola) have been six years and seven years, the other girl in the kitchen has been here nine years,” he said.

“We were supposed to be in the UK as of December 10. We chose not to go because we didn’t want to sell our business and disappear — we didn’t think it was fair for our staff.

“We’ve got a lot of staff members who are like family … but we’ve got to think about our family as well.

“As far as guaranteed jobs, no they’re not, but in a small town like this where you’ve got staff who have been doing the job for such a long time they should get quite good preference.”

Mr Padbury and his wife Vanessa bought the Tarcoola BP lease in 1998, and have since bought Shell Wonthella, the BP on Flores Road, Gull 440 and Tarcoola Puma.

They will keep hold of the Flores Road, Gull and Puma leases and continue to live in Geraldton.

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