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Trevor Pierce and Rachel

Trevor Pierce Yamaha riding high

Christchurch's only Yamaha dealership is now on solid ground, but it's taken several years to recover from the big earthquakes.

Trevor Pierce Yamaha e1

Debt, insurance woes and stress all took their toll on the Trevor Pierce Yamaha dealership but its owners are now out the other side and stronger than ever.

Trevor and his partner Rachel Dennison-Pierce had only taken on the Yamaha dealership a couple of years before the earthqukes and were steadily building up the sales side of their business.

“We were the first Yamaha dealership in Christchurch for 30 years and I was convinced we could do really well. I’d sold used bikes before, but the biggest part of the business has always been our service and parts workshop. With Yamaha, I knew we could go a lot further.”

It was a hefty investment and things were just starting to get off the ground when their leased building was bounced around in the deadly February 2011, 6.2 magnitude earthquake.

“The glass window fell out, bikes toppled over, stuff fell to the floor, but no one was hurt.” says Rachel. Trevor was on the other side of the city when it happened, so he picked up the couple’s children from school. It took Rachel four hours to drive the few kilometres to their home in Burwood.

Their house had no power and no water. Linda drove her two children to Twizel and handed them over to her sister, who lived in Wanaka. “The next day we started shovelling out the liquefaction,” she says. The couple lived for several weeks without power and water but managed to open the business after two weeks.

Trevor Pierce Yamaha 1

Lessons learned from the quakes

The couple had no business continuity insurance “A small business like ours, we just couldn’t afford it,” says Trevor. His stock was well insured, but it took three years to get paid out. “Our broker was great but there were a lot of claims being made and the insurance companies seemed to change staff fairly often and things just dragged on.”

Most of the company records were on paper and they lost a lot of them to the liquefaction. But Rachel says they have now moved to the Orion computer system and everything is regularly backed up.

“The most important thing we learned was to closely monitor stock levels. We are now familiar enough with the computer programme to do rolling stock counts.” Trevor had lost his business to a fire in the past, so luckily they had kept up a good asset register for their insurance policy. “Any new piece of equipment was always added.” Rachel says if she had one piece of advice for other members it would be: “Never assume it isn’t going to happen to you.”

Tough times

Their building needed only relatively minor repairs but for a year after the earthquake they sold no new bikes. “But on the other hand, we were one of very few motorbike workshops still operating in Christchurch, so we picked up a lot of repair work.”

To replace stock and meet the unexpected costs of the earthquake, the couple had to remortgage their house. At one point their debt was up by $400,000.
Sales Manager Rachel, says the year after the earthquake Trevor Pierce Yamaha sold just 10 new motorbikes and 12 the following year. “It was really tough.” The stress took its toll on Trevor. “I got really anxious about everything, whether we would be able to keep the business, and worried that we could lose the house. I didn’t want to go to work in the mornings and felt quite angry.” Rachel was worried and persuaded Trevor to see his GP and get some support. “Gradually I got better, and today I look back and feel my dream is back on track. I’ve reached the goal I set when we first took on the Yamaha dealership.”

Living the dream

Trevor Pierce Yamaha now sells 100-150 new motorbikes a year. “There’s not a lot of money in it, but we are selling a lifestyle. No one needs a motorbike; it’s for fun.”

Both Rachel and Trevor frequently head out on the road with friends (most of them customers). She rides a Yamaha R1 and he rides a VMX.

Their 18-year-old son Jacob is also part of the business. They sponsor his racing on an R6 and he’s starting to do well on the circuit. “It’s pretty cool to be part of what he’s doing, I’m really proud of him. It’s great that Yamaha is also supporting him.”