An era spanning several generations of motoring in Hawke's Bay has come to an end with the sale of Napier-Hastings firm Russell Greer Motors.
From today, the business will split into two dealerships with separate owners - Hawke's Bay Nissan on the Heretaunga St West site in Hastings and Hawke's Bay Honda on the Carlyle St site in Napier.
The Nissan franchise has been bought by Wellington-based Colonial Motor Group, which has a history dating back to horses and drays at the end of the 1850s, while the Honda franchise was taken up by Tauranga businessmen Reuben Guy and Mark Jury, of Bay of Plenty Honda.
"I think the separation is a good thing. That way there will be a total focus on one brand," Mr Greer said. "It's hard when you have two different distributors who have very different philosophies to keep them both happy."
The Greer name has been linked to motoring in Hawke's Bay since Russell Greer's grandfather, Bill Greer, set out in business in 1929. After Joining forces with Edmond Stewart, the name Stewart Greer Motors was established in 1934, and remained in place for almost 70 years, being changed in 2003 as a result Russell Greer's buy-up six years earlier.
Mr Greer put the longevity and success of his business down to two things - a solid team of staff and having a quality product.
"Over the years the strength of our company has been our staff, many of whom have been long serving, 20, 30, 40 years. I think that's because we looked after them.
"It's all about people. It's a people business so you have got to have people who enjoy their job and have great communication skills."
While Mr Greer is retiring, after 41 years' service, he will stay on as landlord for the new owners, who have each retained staff, although administration manager Janice Reed is also retiring after more than 40 years with the firm.
"The [new owners] will have a CEO in each branch but the criteria I had from the beginning was that I was not prepared to retire and leave all my staff out of jobs, so all but one will be staying on."
The decision to walk away was not an easy one, but from today, Mr Greer will focus on the next stage of his life.
"I had no one in the family who wanted to take over the business and so I decided it was time to move on. After 41 years I start my retirement. I have got plenty to keep me busy - golf, spending time with my wife and family, the grandkids. We have also have a big property, so lots to do there."