As Farmer Autovillage takes a few moments to enjoy 30th anniversary celebrations this month, it’s also keeping a focus firmly on the future. Not only the rapidly evolving automotive industry where new technology, new vehicle brands and new purchase systems are appearing, but also locally to develop how the business will continue to interact and support customers and the community in the future.
Originally established in 1991 as Bay Nissan, the award-winning Bay of Plenty dealership has grown from a downtown Tauranga site with 12 staff selling a single vehicle brand to the current Mt Maunganui-based operation where a team of 170 represent 13 quality vehicle brands and more than 600 new and used vehicles are offered.
The company can look back on 30 years of awards success across multiple brands, several pioneering commercial developments and the introduction of new models and new technologies that could scarcely have been considered back in 1991.
This year alone, Farmer Autovillage was awarded coveted National Dealer of the Year titles for Audi, Jeep, Volkswagen Commercial, Volkswagen Passenger, and Volkswagen overall, accompanied by a Nissan Dealer Excellence award and twenty individual awards. Being named New Zealand Dealer of the Year highlights the team’s goals to achieve the absolute highest level of service and professionalism within all aspects of the business.
“For Audi, we have won Dealer of the Year for the second year running. This is a well-deserved reward for our extremely hard-working and close-knit team,” say Blair Woolford, Dealer Principal. “I am especially proud of how the team keep proving that treating customers with respect and integrity is critical to ensuring ongoing relationships with the business.”
Over the years, Farmer Autovillage has helped many local causes become more mobile, assisting with short-term vehicle loans to workers and volunteers in the community. Numerous charities and groups including Tauranga Foodbank, Waipuna Hospice, The Movember Foundation, Breast Cancer Bay of Plenty, Homes of Hope, Tauranga Ladies Luncheon, A Night Before Christmas, Tauranga Garden & Arts Festival, Water Skills for Life Plus, The Kollective, Sweet Louise, Tauranga Boys Collage Rugby, Tauranga Riding for the Disabled, A Night Before Christmas, Bay of Plenty Rugby Union, local surf clubs and bowling clubs have all enjoyed the support and encouragement of Farmer Autovillage over the years. Farmer Autovillage was also pivotal in organising and funding of flagpoles in Gate Pā, Pāpāmoa and the city’s flagpole at the bottom of Elizabeth Street.
To celebrate 30 years in the Bay of Plenty, Farmer Autovillage is saying thank you by donating to three local community initiatives during November. The company is also celebrating 30 years in the dealership and on social media (Instagram, Facebook) with 30 days of giveaways and birthday surprises with selected vehicle purchases. More information will be released on the donations and how they will be utilised to support the community throughout November.
A look around the Hewletts Road dealership will reveal other clear signals to the future. Customers are increasingly inquiring about electric vehicles and the dealership has already made a substantial investment into EV solutions by recently installing the first 175kW DC rapid charging station in the Bay of Plenty. Open 24/7, the station slices many minutes off the conventional 50kW charging units found in the city and is easily activated through the ChargeNet network.
Farmer Autovillage has also strived in recent years to offer services beyond a simple vehicle purchase, adopting a convenient “one stop shop” approach with total vehicle care services. Looking beyond the traditional servicing, parts and accessory roles the dealership now offers products and services as diverse as roof racks, windscreen repairs and replacements, a wheel and tyre centre and a brand-new paint and alloy wheel repair centre. And there is a busy onsite carwash to ensure every customer’s vehicle looks its best heading home.
“This year we opened a wheel repair centre as a new and additional service to our total vehicle care solution. Our wheel experts can repair kerb damaged wheels with complete precision using the latest diamond cut technology from Europe. This service is already proving to be popular and convenient for our customers,” says Bevan Sheppard, Group Service Manager.
And in another move, vehicle sales, parts and servicing are now available to Coromandel customers with Farmer Autovillage recently establishing a base in Whitianga. A long relationship with the previous owners prompted the move and provides an authorised service centre for many brands and a selection of the vehicles that have been offered in Tauranga.
Looking ahead to 2022, exciting changes are on the horizon, including a major upgrade to the dealership’s central hub. It will feature a stunning new café area, business lounge and offices plus an extended ŠKODA showroom area for the fast-growing brand now utilised by the New Zealand police force.
“The design and construction will create a beautiful modern area for customers to relax or use as a base to work from, while enjoying a coffee from our café. We can’t wait to welcome everyone to the new hub,” says Melissa Smith, Group Operations Manager.
Group managing director Mike Farmer says 30 years is an important milestone with the future just as important with the business already gearing up for the changes which are likely to come at an even quicker pace than in the past 30 years.
“From small beginnings 30 years ago, we have worked hard to ensure we have a team of committed people who genuinely want to make their customers’ vehicle experience the most enjoyable possible, delivering an exceptionally high level of standard with integrity,” says Mike Farmer.
“That approach has served us well as we have grown through the years. We are particularly proud to have achieved this right here in Tauranga. One thing won’t change, and that is our absolute commitment to our customers and our community to provide the best in service and brands.”
“I am convinced the next 30 years will bring even more change, more quickly than we have had as vehicle technology evolves and customers’ expectations with that. We are well positioned to meet those changes and deliver what our customers expect.”