At 27 years old, former MTA apprentice Cameron Lees is now the proud business owner of Solid Engineering and Mechanical, an automotive and fabrication service centre that has been operating in Lonsdale for the past year and a half.

Solid Engineering and Mechanical specialise in general mechanical repairs, high performance upgrades, race car preparation, restoration work and custom builds/conversions.

Cameron was an MTA apprentice from 2006 – 2010, and was the recipient of the prestigious MTA apprentice of the year award in his fourth and final year.

During his time as an MTA apprentice, Cameron was hosted by Barry Burns and Tracy Edwards at Datsport, a supplier of new, used and reconditioned parts for Datsun vehicles.

Under the guidance of Barry and Tracy, Cameron picked up many of the clerical skills, along with the mechanical knowledge and skills required to become a small business operator.

“From the second year onwards in my apprenticeship I was exposed to everything in the business, from learning the accounting programs, to general mechanical repairs and basic fabrication skills,” Cameron said.

After completing his apprenticeship, Cameron continued to work at Datsport.

And when Barry and Tracy closed the workshop, they saw an opportunity for Cameron to make a mark in the industry.

“I was given the amazing opportunity to take over the workshop and start up Solid Engineering and Mechanical, and I still do contract work for Barry and Tracy,”Cameron said.

When entering the Solid Engineering and Mechanical workshop, it is clear that mateship and working as a team is celebrated, with Cameron referring to staff as ‘team Solid’.

“It is enjoyable working with a team of good mates, and although they like have a laugh at work, they all know it’s important to knuckle down and get through the work each day.

“We have been extremely busy the past few months, we have a lot of work to get through, but we make sure it gets done.

“We’re young guys and our work is the stuff we live for, some of the team start at 7am and will work to 5pm, then after that they might work on their own cars until 9pm,” he said.

It was important to capture the team’s youth and passion for their work in the Solid Engineering and Mechanical branding.

The Solid Engineering and Mechanical logo.

The graffiti wall art in the workshop by Aerosol Artist
Morris Green.

“Our customers mostly fall within the 18-40 demographic, and I think we do connect with this younger market,” Cameron said.

Reflecting on his career so far, Cameron is pleased with his progress and excited for what the future holds.

“Cars have always been a passion and from when I was a kid, I had it in mind that I wanted to be a mechanic,” Cameron said.

“I didn’t imagine that I would have my own business, but I’m glad with how everything has worked out.

“I enjoy the flexibility of the work, and the cool and diverse range of projects we get to work on.

“Although the first six to eight months was challenging; trying to stay on my feet as the business got running, I’m glad I stuck it out and kept going.

“My advice to apprentices out there who are interested in one day operating their own business comes back to that, it is important to never give up, to get stuck into it and to always believe in your dreams,” he said.