Its farewell to the Gething legend
Gethings Motors, a Main St business in Upper Hutt since 1932 and reputedly its oldest, is closing.
With only 14 ‘‘heavily reduced’’ used cars to sell, Colin Gething is getting near to the day he will not be part of a business started by his grandfather in 1932.
While Gething is looking to lease rather than sell the 2360 square metre site which also fronts Fergusson Dr, he knows this is the end of the line and a three-generation trading legacy.
Evan and Martha Gething – Colin’s grandparents – started out a modest operation in 1932 selling and repairing bicycles, washing machines and also running a taxi and rental car service.
They bought the property four years later and, fronted by motor mechanic Evan, added petrol pumps and car services.
The death of Evan at 41 in 1948 meant his son Ken – Colin’s father – took over.
He ran the business for 32 years before it was sold to Colin in 1986. He had joined the family business in 1970, two years after leaving Heretaunga College, and after time at Lower Hutt’s Magnus Motors. He also began accountancy study and was later a lecturer at Massey University.
But his contribution to the family business had started much earlier – he had worked pumping petrol after weekends.
Upper Hutt was a burgeoning but small town in the late 1950s. ‘‘Much of the land on the Main Rd south, what is Fergusson Dr today, was open paddocks all the way to the to river.
‘‘I can still remember Angus McCurdy [Upper Hutt’s first mayor] coming across the river on a horse from his house which we all called McCurdy’s Castle.’’
His Sunday work was school and on especially memorable for having to hand crank the petrol pumps as power board maintenance meant electricity in the business area was turned off for the afternoon.
On the corner of Main and Wilson streets, Gethings Motors fronted State Highway 2 for more then five decades until the River Road bypass opened in 1986.
‘‘From Silverstream to Akatarawa it was 30mph. People used to say it was the longest stretch of road at that speed in the country. It carried a lot of traffic and in those days we did very well with the service station.
‘‘We stopped selling petrol in the late 1990s.’’
The company’s time was affected by the closure of the car assembly industry, and the General Motors plant at Trentham in particular.
‘‘That hit us and it hit the whole town. I did a bit of research on it and it’s proven that for every job in assembly five more people were employed in related industries.’’
That affected the spare parts arm of Gethings Motors as did constant improvement in car technology.
‘‘Up until 25 years ago spare parts were big business,’’ the 67-year-old said. ‘‘Today’s modern cars probably don’t need any repairs in their first 10 years. It’s a totally different industry.’’
A Mitsubishi parts and service dealership for 27 years, the closure will affect nine staff. ‘‘At one stage we had 22 here.’’
Retirement will mean rest and regular travel for the Gethings.
‘‘Often, at times, it’s been impossible to get away.’’
Colin Gething in his car yard on Fergusson Dr. Above, the business in the 1960s.