Phil Smith – obituary
Late last year, the bodyshop community lost one of its pioneers and most highly respected characters – Phil Smith. Here, we pay homage to the man who clearly touched many people’s hearts.
Phil Smith was well known to many in the industry from his many years with Wayside bodyshop in Bletchley, Milton Keynes. He started in the industry in 1957 as a 15-year old undertaking a five-year apprenticeship with FC Coachworks in Cranfield and subsequently spent 10 years at EuroPanel in Watford, working his way up to general manager.
During his time at Wayside, as general manager, he was involved with the development in 1980 of the very first aluminium bay in the UK along with Andy Sargent (body and paint manager of VW/Audi Group) and Andy Green (managing director of Wayside Group). Subsequently he was appointed as the first and only UK repairer with the facilities and training to repair the all-aluminium Honda NSX in the mid-90s. Phil later moved up to the position of development director at Wayside.
Phil also sat on the Audatex Technical Committee.
Following his retirement from Wayside Phil enjoyed life in Upper Shelton, a hamlet in mid-Bedfordshire, where he had time to pursue his personal interests and spend quality time with his grandchildren.
Phil made many friends within the industry, some of whom contacted us to pay their respects:
Jeff Mack, Groupe Renault
‘I really got to know Phil in 1996 when he was at Wayside in Milton Keynes. He was an absolute gentleman, who told it as it was and never sugar-coated what he had to say.
‘When my Dad passed away in September of 1996, Phil really stepped in and gave me so much guidance, love, support and the odd rollicking when he deemed that I needed it.
‘In my humble opinion, Phil was the best bodyshop operator I had the privilege of calling a friend. His view was always positive and supportive, always trying to do the best by everyone he came into contact with.
‘He was a true gentleman, who supported me in so many ways, they’re innumerable. It was my great honour to call him a friend.’
John De Courcy, Mipa Paints
‘Phil and I met in 1981. He became like a surrogate father to me, always there for you, happy to see you and never without an idea and a smile.
‘He was very influential in my life and career as he was with most of us who had the pleasure to know him.’
Mike Monaghan, Auto-Motivate
‘In my early MVRA days Phil was a member. On many occasions at meetings and events when the pressure was on, he offered me kind words of confidence and told me to keep going as it was what the industry needed at that time. He showed me great kindness, support and insight. A true gentleman, one of the good guys and a quiet hero of our industry.’
Andy Mansfield, Movac
‘I knew Phil for about eight years, working together during his time with DWS/TCW. We became closer after he semi-retired and spoke every week and met up on occasions for coffee and a chat. Phil always liked to know what was going on in the Industry he was so passionate about.
‘Like others I also referred to him as my ‘Work Dad’. He loved our great industry and seldom had a bad word to say about anyone in it. Phil always had a view but had a way of communicating it in a humorous fashion.
I had and have the upmost respect for this sagacious wonderful man and was proud to call him ‘Dad’.
‘Within a few days of joining Glasurit in May 1982, I was introduced to Phil as the ‘Guru’ for all things VAG (at that time). The Guru was always there for me, but he was also canny, feeding all the time from his involvement with the new boys. That’s what made him different – he openly listened, learned and advised.
Trieu To, ITAS
‘Nothing can ever replace the amazing person I knew him to be.’
‘Phil has been my saviour in many ways over the years.’