Today the CMC Group owns and operates 12 Ford Dealerships with each holding a franchise in its own right from the Ford Motor Company of NZ Ltd. From 1999, a number of these Dealerships have been granted Mazda franchises. The Company is involved in the NZ distribution and retailing of Kenworth and DAF heavy duty trucks, and the retailing of New Holland, Kubota and Case IH tractors and equipment in Southland.
The Colonial Motor Company originated from William Black's coach-building factory which started operations in 1859 at 89 Courtenay Place, Wellington. In 1881 it was taken over by Rouse & Hurrell, who expanded the business with new three storied premises calling it Rouse & Hurrell's Empire Steam and Carriage Works. This partnership was formed into a limited liability company in 1902 with Mr Edward Wade Petherick the first Secretary of the Company. The Ford Motor Car Agency was taken up in 1908 and in August 1911 a new name "The Colonial Motor Company Limited" was registered.
On Ford Canada's recommendation a dominant shareholding and control was acquired by Mr Charles Corden Larmour and the sale of this majority holding and control to Mr Hope Gibbons and his family interests was concluded in April 1918 after negotiations in 1916. At that time there were 17 Authorised Ford Dealers in New Zealand of which 10 were in the South Island. In 1919 the Company restructured with a new memorandum and articles but the 1911 name was retained and remains the same today.
Cars ready for dispatch from the plant at 89 Courtneay Place, Wellington
The nine storied building at 89 Courtenay Place, designed by architect J M Dawson to Ford plans, opened as the tallest Wellington construction in 1922. It was the first motor vehicle assembly plant in New Zealand-vehicles starting in boxes at the top and driving out completed at the bottom. The Company later built assembly plants at Fox Street, Parnell, Auckland and Sophia Street, Timaru. This was the age of the Model T with Ford market share reaching a peak of 27% in 1926.
In 1936, Ford Motor Company of New Zealand Limited established an assembly plant at Seaview, Lower Hutt, and took over the distribution of Ford products in New Zealand. CMC then concentrated on the retail side of the business, operating the retail garages it then owned. The 1930's and 1940's were a time of survival with the depression, excess stock of new product, and then no new vehicles available during the war years and petrol rationing until 1950. Service became the key to remaining in business.
Shortly after the end of the war the supply of new vehicles was resumed and the 30 years up to 1980 saw the Group consolidate. The Dealer organisation that developed proved to be one of the best retail motor groups in New Zealand. Over this period nearly every Dealership was either rebuilt, fully refurbished or relocated and new Dealerships were opened in East, West and South Auckland to cater for Auckland growth.
For the 50 years up to 1987 New Zealand had import licensing to control the expenditure of funds on imports such as motor vehicles. The new vehicle industry volumes peaked in 1973, and again in 1984, at around 125,000 new vehicles, a long way from the industry of the 1990's. In 1992 just 66,500 new vehicles were sold. 2005, with just over 100,000 new vehicle sales, was the highest for 20 years.
In recent years our Dealerships have adjusted to a completely open and highly competitive market. The change from cars being seen as an investment to a depreciable consumer durable, was brought about by the advent of imported used vehicles from Japan, completely changing the shape of the industry with used import sales being up to double the level of new registrations for over a decade.
In 2007 vehicle exhaust emission regulations for imported vehicles were tightened to define a maximum timing lag for NZ application of US/European and Japanese regulations. This has affected the number of aged used vehicle imports that are eligible for importation.
In 1994, after Ford sold their heavy truck division, CMC took up a major interest in Southpac Trucks Ltd, the New Zealand distributor for Kenworth, Foden (since retired) and (more recently) DAF heavy duty truck brands which are part of the PACCAR Organisation.
Guinness Peat Group plc (GPG) made a takeover offer for CMC in October 1995. Among the sellers who enabled GPG to acquire 33.9% were some original Gibbons Family shareholders. As part of a plan to maximise value to shareholders, Directors resolved to rationalise the Company's non-dealership property holdings, repay the surplus funds to shareholders and focus the Company on its core motor trade activities.
In June 1997, GPG sold its shares to the MBM Group of Companies which have interests in the Motor Industry in Malaysia. MBM Group sold all remaining 24.9% stake on the market in May 2003 to a large number of individual shareholders and a few institutional holders, resulting in over 300 new shareholders.
The Company acquired M.S Motors, the Ford Dealership in Nelson, in 1998 and at the same time took over the Blenheim Dealership, merging them as the M.S Ford operation.
In 1999, CMC's Auckland Dealerships joined with Ford Motor Company and three other Ford dealerships to form Auckland Auto Collection Limited (AACL). This move represented the biggest change in the Ford franchise arrangements in New Zealand for over 60 years. During 1999, this new business acquired the Mazda Dealerships in Auckland and Mazda Motors joined CMC and Ford as a shareholder. From 2002, the business operated as three Ford and Mazda dealerships - North Harbour, John Andrew and South Auckland. CMC sold its shareholding back to AACL in May 2005 and, in return, acquired the South Auckland Dealership. Of interest, the remaining dealerships in AACL, John Andrew and North Harbour, were acquired in September 2006 by AHG - a Perth based Australian public listed company.
Seven of the Group's twelve car Dealerships now have both the Ford and Mazda franchises with Dunedin City Motors acquiring the Mazda franchise in January 2009.
On 16 June 2003, Ford Motor Company celebrated its centennial and the production of the original Model A Ford mobile with CMC and its forebears having been actively involved with Ford for 95 of those 100 years. In celebration of this long relationship, a history of the Company's operations and activities "Ford Ahead" was written and published by Roger Gardner.
In April 2009 we opened Avon City Motorcycles with the Suzuki franchise on the Sockburn site and in July 2009 opened Advance Agricentre in Southland with the Case IH tractor franchise.
It has been part of the Company's philosophy and success to own the property sites from which its retail subsidiary companies operate. Until its sale in August 2005, the Company owned the "CMC Building", a large office building in Wellington that originally housed the first assembly plant.
The current major shareholdings in CMC are with individual members of the wider Gibbons Family, who collectively hold over 60% of the Company shares. There are also many descendants of the original 1902 subscribers to the Rouse & Hurrell Carriage Building Company Limited who remain shareholders today.
Throughout the Company's history, change has always been with us and our ability to adapt in good times and in bad has ensured ongoing wellbeing and prosperity. As well, it has always been recognised that dedicated, skilled and enthusiastic people have been, and will continue to be, the key to the Company's future.