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NZ’s largest Isuzu dealer invests $34M in new Auckland and Whangarei facilities

CAL Isuzu, New Zealand’s largest independent Isuzu dealership, announced today it will build a new $22M dealership and workshop in East Tamaki and a new $12M dealership and workshop in Whangarei. 

Tenders for construction open soon with construction set to begin in mid-2022 with hopes both new facilities will be fully operational in early 2023.  The Whangarei operation will also grow its team numbers from three to around 12 once the facility is completed.

While many companies tightened the spending faucet during the pandemic, Ashok Parbhu - the owner of CAL Isuzu – is upbeat and positive. Within minutes of meeting him, several phrases pop up. “Customer service.” “Serving customers better” and “improving the customer experience”.

While these phrases are cliché for many, Ashok means every word.

He believes in serving his customers so deeply, he’s investing in these two new state-of-the-art facilities that will lift CAL Isuzu’s already-excellent service to new levels.  It’s the definition of putting your money where your mouth is, Ashok explains.

“From the time my late brother Raman started this trucking business in 1987, we worked to a single idea: Customers for life. We didn’t just want to sell someone a truck; we wanted our company and theirs to be partners for the long haul. Which begged the question: What inspires someone to keep giving you their business for 20 years or more? The answer is brilliant, brilliant service.”

The highest level of service comes from Ashok’s 187-strong staff. Together, they service 55% of the Isuzu truck market as the only independent dealership with a large-scale engineering business. That’s their independent point of difference: they can build and modify trucks.

For Ashok, this is a service necessity.

“Everyone who owns a truck is in business to make money. The truck is their No.1 asset. The better the truck, the better their business runs. That’s why we work hard upfront to understand exactly how a person needs their truck to function. If we can discern that, we can nail the specs. We’ll sometimes even suggest features a client hadn’t considered. Some of the best feedback we ever get is ‘I wasn’t sure I needed that feature, but it turns out I really do!’ That response is gold at CAL Isuzu.”

Building and modifying the perfect truck requires state-of-the-art technology. Hence the new facilities. These multi-million-dollar upgrades will give CAL Isuzu the ability to customise trucks down to the finest detail. Or, if a customer gets the specs wrong, it will give Ashok’s team the option of taking the truck back to quickly rebuild it.

Of all the times to expand, the shifting pandemic world seems the least advantageous. Many in the industry are taking a cautious approach, putting business plans on hold. Ashok says this is the right time to do the opposite.

“When the first lockdown occurred, people were spooked and cancelled their orders with us. Materials were also in short supply due. But rather than shrink our operations, I thought CAL Isuzu should work smarter and take advantage of the new landscape.”

Before the Covid outbreak, Ashok had been working with a developer to lease new hi-tech facilities in Auckland. As the pandemic pressure mounted, the developer pulled out, which presented Ashok with an opportunity.

“With the developer gone, my leadership team had a rethink. We felt the need to secure our future from the vagaries of the property market, so we asked ourselves, what if we owned the land in both Auckland and Whangarei and building instead of leasing them?  After weighing up the pros and cons, we decided to look for land.”

With land secured for both facilities, both projects will soon be out for tender and ground will be broken midway through 2022. For CAL Isuzu, these are exciting times, but for Ashok, they are the latest steps in a 34-year journey.

“There’s a saying. ‘Rome wasn't built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour.’ That’s how I feel about our new trucking facilities. What we’re doing now is the continuation of what my late brother Raman started in our parent’s backyard in 1987. Way back then, our motto was, Better Service. Through nearly 35 years, we’ve never lost sight of that.”

Ashok is quick to acknowledge his staff as keys to CAL Isuzu’s success – 187 people who live out the family motto every day.

“The kudos belongs to our people. It’s because of them that the business has had such success and is gearing up for even greater things. I want them to know that. Our new buildings will be a testament to their work. They are also their reward. I want them to enjoy working in a place that allows them to do their best work.”

Ashok Parbhu; CAL Isuzu