Whanganui's Midtown Motors is more than doubling its footprint with a new extension set to open early next year.

Janine Chalk and Raj Patel bought the Maria Pl Extn business in April 2016 and have been working to develop it.

Patel has been a mechanic for more than 20 years but for Chalk it was the beginning of a new career. The former early childhood teacher now looks after the business and administrative side while Patel deals with customers and manages the team of mechanics, as well as fixing vehicles.

Former Midtown Motors owner Don Martin still works there as a mechanic and they have employed an apprentice. A new senior mechanic will start work in January.


"When we advertised the job, all the applicants were from out of town which tells me people are wanting to move here," Chalk said.

As well as increasing its workforce, Midtown Motors is expanding its premises and will open its new extension in early 2019.

"We had the opportunity to purchase the building and land next door [on the corner of Wilson St and Maria Pl Extn]," Chalk said.

"We moved the old house off and then we had to get all our consents. It turned out to be an archaeological site so it's taken a while.

"We're more than doubling the size of the current workshop. We have two hoists and we've bought three more to go in the new workshop."

Patel is an avid drag racer and is involved in Wanganui Road Rodders hot rod club, organising the annual street drags.

"We have a lot more hot rods coming in to the workshop - it's a specialty field and Raj is really good at it," Chalk said.

"We have a wide range of customers. We have little old ladies coming in and Raj really looks after them. At the other end of the scale, at the moment we have a classic Mustang and a late model Mercedes in the workshop."

The development of the business resulted in Midtown Motors receiving two awards at the Whanganui Chamber of Commerce and Industry's regional business awards in November.

They were highly commended in the Trade Services and Supplies category, with the judges saying they were impressed with the business's commitment to staff training and development and their support of a positive workplace culture.

They also picked up the highly commended award in the Small Business category. The judges liked Midtown Motors' vision for significantly growing the business and its business development goals.

"It was quite a surprise because we're a small business and relatively new," Chalk said.

"The application process was quite involved and there were some curly questions but I found it helpful to see where our gaps were so we can work on filling them. We were grateful for the acknowledgement of all the hard work."

Chalk and Patel are also thankful for support they have received from family and friends and the Whanganui business community.

Chalk worked for 12 months with business mentor Glenda Brown who helped with business planning and processes.

"We aren't businesspeople as such so I'm really grateful to her," Chalk said.

"Our family and friends have helped us and [former owner] Don has been really helpful with advice.

"When we started up, we had offers from other businesses of help to get started. We've found the business community in Whanganui is really supportive of new, evolving businesses."