Stevens Motors Story
Stevens Motors Ltd are proud to be an established business in the Hutt Valley going back to its beginnings in 1935 when Colonial Motor Company bought the business from Tom Ward and Jack Rawnsley who were finding trading times difficult during the Depression. Stevens Motors are still today a 100% wholly owned subsidiary of CMC responsible for the retailing of Ford and Mazda vehicles in the Hutt Valley region.
The new company of Stevens Motors was incorporated in 1935 with John Victor (Jack) Stevens as General Manager (There were no CEO titles in those days) and operations began from the same site that Ward and Rawnsley had been on. In 1936 the premises were extended to accommodate the sales of Trucks and Tractors as well.
Under Jack Stevens able direction Stevens Motors grew. However it was hard going at first, because of the aftermath of the depression, and then the war years when supply of motor vehicles dried up completely and technical manpower was extremely short.
Jack Stevens retired in 1942 and E F (Fred Emmerson) was appointed General Manager, but there were no vehicles to sell, and hardly any parts available, so the business survived on the servicing and maintaining of Army vehicles for the NZ and US forces. After the war many staff returned to their old jobs and it was soon obvious Stevens Motors would have to substantially enlarge again to cope with the expansion in the Hutt Valley. But there was no possibility of immediate building extensions in the immediate post war due to massive delays with permits and regulations. Cars slowly became available but import restrictions were severe and demand outstripped supply causing frustration all around. Trucks and Tractors were available so the sales efforts were applied to these.
Stevens Motors purchased the business of J Webster Wood and Coal Cartage in 1948 as a going concern in High St (Now Countdown Supermarket) and after getting the business into a sound condition sold it off retaining the land. Stevens Motors also acquired the block of land immediately across the road so now had two sites facing each other.
Fred Emmerson retired in 1951 and Lennox (Lofty) Henderson was appointed Managing Director. In 1958 a complete new premises had been built on both sides of the road and continual alterations were done right through until 1967. Staff numbers reached 90 in those days.
Vehicle sales grew significantly especially after the lifting of import restrictions in the 70s. Lofty Henderson retired in 1978 after 41 years service with CMC and was replaced by Randall Thomson.
On August 8th 1985 disaster struck and fire gutted the premises of Stevens Motors which was one of the largest in Lower Hutts history. Petrol tanks in display vehicles exploded making conventional fire fighting impossible. As it turned out the fire was quite possibly Stevens Motors saving with the new governments free market policies the motor industry was thrown in to turmoil and the business was diminishing and rationalisation needed to happen. The 1985-1990 period was a critical one for Stevens Motors with deregulation introducing immense change and commercial land in Lower Hutt was now all becoming retail with land prices sky rocketing.
Foodstuffs made an offer of $6.5 million in 1990 for the land and buildings so alternative sites were investigated and the Liquorland premises were purchased at our current site today. In 1990 Stevens Motors relocated to this site at a total setup cost of $2.5million.
Randall Thomson retired in 1992 and Malcolm Davison was appointed Dealer Principal. Malcolm was also the major shareholder of Maidstone Ford in Upper Hutt and consequently Maidstone Motors was sold to CMC.
Malcolm Davison suddenly resigned in 1994 and Steve Hutchinson became the new Dealer Principal and ran the business until his resignation in 1997.
The last 20 years has seen massive change in the industry with vehicles becoming more and more of a consumer item and strengthening competition mainly through deregulation. In 2002 Stevens motors picked up the Mazda franchise to compliment its Ford brand and has continued to consolidate itself in the market.
81 years has taught us two things. First, for many going to a car dealer is like going to the dentist-something to be tolerated rather than enjoyed. We accept that, but challenge this is how it is to remain. Secondly, Loyalty is difficult to foster and people buy from environments they enjoy. So while we enjoy a long and prosperous past, it is the future that has us much more excited. Any dealer can sell cars. We see our next challenge for the next 80 years to change the view people have of car buying experiences. Think of it as evolution.
Today we sell a full range of new Ford and Mazda vehicles, Used Vehicles, Parts and Service and can arrange finance if required. If we can do the right thing by you the customer it will change the way you view purchasing a motor vehicle.
I hope you put our challenge to the test.