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Magan family

Magan Motors: A true family business

There can’t be many MTA members whose business is more family-focused than Magan Motors in North New Brighton, Christchurch. Above are the Jackson's who make up the company, Allan, wife Kay, grandson Marcus, son Nigel.

magan exterior

Four generations make up Magan Motors, starting with Allan Jackson, who established the business in 1963

His son, also Allan, now runs Magan’s and works alongside his son Nigel who plans to take over. Nigel’s son Marcus is also getting his hands dirty in the workshop, doing basic mechanical work while he thinks about whether to start an apprenticeship, or perhaps join the army and specialise in diesel engines.

The business was deliberately not called Jackson Motors because Allan senior wanted to include his family. His son Allan explains. “Each letter in MAGAN represents someone in the family, my mother Meagan, Allan my dad, Graham my brother, Allan for me and the N means ‘not forgetting Suzanne’, my youngest sister.”

Allan joined his father in the workshop as soon as he finished school in 1968. It was much the same for Nigel.

“When I was young, I used to come down in the school holidays and eat my fish and chips with my dad and granddad. I was always happy here. So, when I was leaving school and didn’t really know what I wanted to do, I started working here and never left,” explained Nigel.

These days 67-year-old Allan largely leaves the scan tools and complex electronics jobs to Nigel while he gets on with the nuts and bolts and the customers.

magan team2

The workshop is much the same as it was in the 1960s, but with another three bays added out the back in 2000.

The tiny tearoom and small office are a hub for the community – some locals drop in daily for a chat and a cuppa. During the Christchurch earthquakes, Magan Motors was undamaged, and the only place in the nearby streets that still had running water. “People would come to fill up at the outside tap and then stop for a while to talk – we were pretty full sometimes.”

"This neighbourhood has a lot elderly people, so we made sure we checked on them during the big quakes. Many customers’ homes were knackered, and a lot moved away but some them still come back,” says Allan. These customers – who live in other parts of Canterbury, or even as far afield as Kaikoura and Queenstown - still bring their vehicles in for a check when they’re in town.

Long-time customer and daily visitor Al Hooper says the Jacksons are known for their great service and kindness.

“They really care about their customers and their cars,” he says.

Allan acknowledges that he and the others at Magan Motors are more than willing to go the extra mile for customers. “Many of them are the children and grandchildren of our first customers, so they trust us to do our best for them.”

Everyone is welcomed warmly by Allan and his newest staff member, office administrator Wendy Harris, whether the engine needs a rebuild or the customer just wants a prospective new car checked out, or a rattle listened to.

“A lot of our customers don’t have much money so they trust us for a realistic quote and opinion.

“It’s not about building an empire, it’s about building relationships,” says Allan.

Magan’s workshop is busy and could do with another mechanic. Allan is hopeful one of his former employees may be enticed to return – this would ease the pressure on him and possibly allow him to take more time away from the business.

He’s a bit reluctant to use the word ‘retire’ and sees himself having a hand in the day-to-day activities for a while yet.

“I’ve been coming in here for 51 years. The reality is that it is so busy, I wouldn’t want to leave the stress and pressure all on Nigel. One more mechanic, and then I can think about just doing some office work and running errands,” he says.