Automotive Holdings Group Ltd (AHG) is a diversified automotive retailing and logistics group, and is Australasia’s largest automotive retailer, with 150 car and truck dealerships operating in Western Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and New Zealand, and currently representing 12 of the 13 most popular passenger vehicle brands, as well as nine commercial vehicle brands. It’s also the largest refrigerated food transport and warehousing provider.
In New Zealand the group is currently represented by its ownership of major motor vehicle dealerships in the Auckland region – John Andrew Ford in Great North Road, Grey Lynn, Auckland, John Andrew Mazda, also in Great North Road, North Harbour Ford and Mazda in Wairau Road, Auckland, Davie Motors Holden, in Cavendish Drive, Manukau, and Manukau Nissan, also in Cavendish Drive, Manukau.
Until now these entities have operated very much on their own in terms of serving the needs of fleet buyers, but now a major consolidation has taken place to bring the various fleet departments under one umbrella, led by Christy Critchley, one of the best-known names in the retail fleet segment.
Until now (and as we have reported previously in Company Vehicle), Christy has been the highly successful fleet sales manager at John Andrew Ford and John Andrew Mazda, and has taken John Andrew to the position of top fleet sales dealer in New Zealand, averaging about 1,200 cars a year.
“But there’s a lot of expertise in the Automotive Holdings Group dealerships in New Zealand, so we have decided to set up new departments to give AHG the maximum presence in the fleet arena,” she told me.
The intention is to widen the choice for fleets, enabling them to get best “fit-for-purpose” products for their particular needs.
“As such, it’s important that potential customers know who they will be dealing with among the fleet managers,” said Christy.
So we asked a few questions so you can get to know them all better!
First up, we looked at the John Andrew Ford operation (chosen in alphabetical order).
Stuart Donaldson is a corporate account manager there, and he’s relatively new to fleet sales, although he has a wealth of experience in sales in other fields, particularly the coffee industry.
Gretchen Schischkais also a corporate account manager at John Andrew Ford, and has been in fleet sales for 19 years, having previously been in freight sales.
Renate Smit, also a corporate account manager, is another newcomer to the John Andrew Ford team, having worked there for just less than two years, but she has a wealth of motor industry experience in vehicle sales, where she worked in her native South Africa before emigrating to New Zealand.
Lance Tipping is business development manager at John Andrew Ford, and he’s been in fleet sales for two years, having previously worked in vehicle leasing and advertising.
Moving across the John Andrew forecourt to John Andrew Mazda, we meet the team there.
Marama Castle-Brownis fleet business development manager. She has been in the fleet business for three years, but before that was a media consultant for 19 years, where she built up a strong network of contacts.
Dragi Marinovich is one of the most experienced fleet managers in the team. He’s a corporate account manager, and has worked in fleet sales for 17 years after moving from the banking sector, where he worked in Australia before moving to NZ.
Tessa Menzies is also a corporate account manager at John Andrew Mazda. She’s the “newbie” in the team, having worked in fleet sales for five months, but before moving to John Andrew Mazda she worked in advertising sales for almost eight years.
The North Harbour Ford and Mazda team are across the bridge on Auckland’s North Shore, where they work out of the busy dealership in vibrant Wairau Park.
Kale Emery is an account manager, and has worked in the fleet department for two years, having previously been a Ford and Mazda parts consultant.
Darin Morris is fleet and business development manager at North Harbour Ford and Mazda, and has worked in fleet sales for seven years, having moved across from the highly-charged field of driving a commercial jet boat, as well as being a tourism operator.
Colin Selby is business development manager at North Harbour Ford and Mazda. He has worked in sales and business development roles since 1997, with more than 10 years of that in fleet sales, and before that was in commercial asset finance.
We go back across the harbour bridge and head south along the motorway to get to Cavenish Drive in Manukau, the home of Davie Holden.