An early photo shows a line-up of trucks outside the Hamilton premises of Ebbett Motors, the names of Vauxhall and Chevrolet proudly emblazoned on the building behind. Along with other General Motors marques including Oldsmobile and the now defunct Oakland, these were the backbone of the company, carrying it through the Depression years.
Ebbetts has now grown well beyond its original Hamilton base with 12 dealerships across the North Island and over 600 staff. While now better known for comfortable cars than tough trucks, Ebbetts still caters for its farming base with a range of Nissan and Holden utes.
A feature of the Ebbetts offering since the brand’s emergence in New Zealand in 1952, Holden is a firm Franklin favourite, sharing friendly rivalry with the Ford fanatics.
“Holden is definitely here to stay,” says dealership manager Ross. “The Colorado ute is a top performer on the farm, and the new look Commodore is an amazing beast. With its high performance V6 engine and all wheel drive with German engineering, it has better handling than the old V8 as well as a lot more specs. And it’s a great looking car.
“Nissan is also a very strong seller, in both utes and cars. The Navara ute continues its popularity, while the Nissan Qashqai and X-Trail are mainstays of the SUV market. Call in to our stand at this month’s National Fieldays for some terrific special deals.”
Like many of his staff, Ross has seen long years of service with Ebbetts. Starting as an apprentice mechanic in Hamilton, he’s worked his way up through the company to his current position heading Ebbett Pukekohe, where he’s been ever since the dealership opened in 2006.
“If you come into our car yard on the corner of Edinburgh and Tobin Streets in Pukekohe you won’t be rushed by over-zealous salespeople trying to push a deal. We have a relaxed atmosphere with no hard sell, but at the same time our staff are positive and helpful.”
“We have a very strong emphasis on looking after our customers, whether during the sales process or afterwards. Our after-sales manager Paul Fiebiger has been here as long as I have, and our business manager Michelle Wiggins can arrange finance to suit any customer.
“Vehicle servicing is another of our strengths, coming complete with a complimentary vehicle spruce-up. For both service and sales, we’re a far more convenient option for local people than tackling the motorway into Auckland.
“We like to share our success by giving back to the local community. As a branch we’ve provided sponsorship to a number of groups including bowling and golf clubs, the Westpac Rescue Helicopter and schools.
Currently offering nine brands from the utilitarian to the luxurious, Ross is coy about the details of what’s to come, but suggests customers follow that old adage – ‘watch this space’. There’s also another old adage – ‘you can’t always get what you want’ - but you might well find what you need among the 600 used vehicles to which Ebbett Pukekohe has access. And if Ebbetts can’t find something to suit right away, they’ll do their darndest to keep on searching till they find the perfect match.... maybe even a Cadillac.