For many months passing traffic has watched a high-profile site develop from a long-closed building supply store into one of the biggest car lots in Whangārei.
Turners Whangārei, which officially opened at the new premises on the corner of Maunu Rd and Walton St yesterday, aimed to have hundreds of vehicles to announce its bigger, bolder presence in town.
"The trouble is they're selling faster than we can bring them in," manager Rees Daley said.
In the first eight days after trading began at the new location, 26 cars were sold.
Yesterday's grand opening was officiated by Greg Hedgepeth, chief executive of Turners Group NZ, and Whangārei mayor Sheryl Mai. It included a powhiri, ribbon cutting, plaque unveiling, morning tea and a host of guests including car enthusiasts, buyers and staff.
Hedgepeth said the expansion reflected the company's recognition of Northland as a growing region but was also a response to demand.
"Everything we see points to a strong future."
Hedgepeth said that Turners set its prices nationally, not regionally. Vehicles in Northland were no more expensive than anywhere else.
The Whangārei business has returned to its first home, with Turners' being just across the road when it came to town in 1991, Daley said. Turners had been at its Dyer St premises for 12 years.
"We were really suffering from growing pains where we were," Daley said.
The new location had been empty for a number of years after Placemakers moved to the corner of Kioreroa and Port Rds.
Work on the former Placemakers building to prepare it for Turners has included gutting and rebuilding it into a light, bright showroom and office suite, with an extensive sales yard.
Before Placemakers, the site housed the landmark Windsor Hotel and boarding house.
The Windsor was originally accommodation for workers at the Reotahi meatworks. After the meatworks burned down in the early 1920s, the building was barged up-harbour to become a hotel on the corner of Walton St and Maunu Rd. It was moved to Ngararatunua in 1991.
Already staking its claim on the area, Turners unashamedly predicts its new, highly visible business location will soon become known around town as "Turners' Corner".
Turners Whangārei employs 14 people. Daley said the number will probably get up to 18 in the next couple of months.
Turners' pays cash for cars, does trade-ins, sells off the yard or at auctions and remains New Zealand's biggest second-hand car dealer and imports vehicle.
The internet has a major impact on how and when cars are sold, and at an early stage Turners was quick off the rank adapting to that new driver of business.
"We still provide the whole nine yards to customers – buy, sell, finance and insurance," Daley said.
The national company holds specialist auctions, sometimes selling private vehicle collections. Daley hinted at "watch this spot" once Turners Whangārei has settled into its new skin.
In November 2010, a collection of 29 iconic American cars was sold on behalf of just one vendor as part of an American Classic Car auction.
Not only was the auction streamed live, allowing the vendor to watch online from Wales, $25,000 was donated from the proceeds to North Haven Hospice.
Daley said it was important for the company to acknowledge and support the local community.
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