Wellington Motorcycles Ready for Summer
There’s a lifetime of passion for motorbikes, particularly American brands, invested in Wellington Motorcycles.
Garry Gill and Steve Dundon set up the business back in 1973 and cater to what they call “recreational and enthusiast” riders. They hold the Indian franchise for new bikes and import used American brands from Japan, along with a smattering of European and other popular bikes.
Today’s buyers are a little older than those from the 70s and 80s and many of today’s customers started riding a few decades ago, some buying their first bikes from Wellington Motorcycles.
“Back in the early days, people didn’t have credit cards and the motorbike industry was quite big. Cars were really expensive, and a 60 percent deposit was required by government for all vehicle sales,” explain Garry and Steve, who are the company’s principal dealers.
From the mid 70s until around 1990, interest rates were at least 10 percent, hitting a high of around 20 percent in the mid-80s. “It was quite difficult trading in some of those years.” Steve remembers, “One month we sold just one new bike, which was unheard of.” Throughout those decades, the company held the local Suzuki franchise and sponsored riders in various local and national racing circuits.
“In the late 80s the market began to swing from racing and sports through to a demand for cruising, recreation and ‘adventure’ bikes, so we started getting into American brands,” says Garry.
JAPAN FOR AMERICAN
Over the past 40 years, the company has imported used bikes from Japan. “They have pretty much the same compliance and emission rules as us and the bikes are set up for riding on the left-hand side of the road,” says Steve. “Bikes from Japan are also in great condition. People there like to buy the latest models but don’t have much time to ride them so they have extremely low kilometres on the clock.” This helps when it comes to presenting them on to the shop floor. “We make a point of making sure the bikes are in exceptional condition, customers often can barely tell the difference between new and used in the quality of bikes we offer – even one that is several years old,” says Steve.
Three years ago, their central Wellington building was yellow-stickered after a seismic inspection, and the business was moved to Petone. ‘We looked for a site in Wellington but there’s not much available and rents are more expensive. Out in Petone we have a corner site on Gear Street and lots of parking." Steve also says there’s a significant difference in their running costs.
Today, just one franchised motorcycle dealership remains in the heart of Wellington city.
As part of the move, Steve and Garry gave up their Harley Davidson and Suzuki franchises to concentrate of their used sales. “But about a month later, Indian approached us and persuaded us to rethink and go with them.” They are one of just three Indian dealerships in the country.
Business has been a bit slow over winter, as is traditional, but with summer looming, the pair are anticipating better times. “Buying has slowed down over the past year, but I think the Government’s announcement of a big surplus will give customers more confidence,” says Garry.
And is an electric touring bike in their future? Both Harley Davidson and Polaris are developing models for next year’s market. However, Steve reckons the $40,000 or so it’ll cost for the Harley Livewire, the size of its battery and travel distance, will make it unattractive to his customers.