Opening of head office and warehouse on Tory St, Wellington 1929
With one of the highest rates of motor vehicle ownership in the world, New Zealand has a longstanding passion for and reliance on road transport, and for more than 100 years, Goodyear tyres have been helping Kiwi drivers get from A to B.
The first two cars in New Zealand were imported into Wellington in 1898 – the same year Frank Seiberling founded the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio.
Goodyear Ad Radiator 1920 Goodyear Ad 1953
Just under 20 years later, in February 1917, the Goodyear Tyre and Rubber Company of New Zealand set up its head office in Wellington – then a nascent hub of the New Zealand auto industry. Car ownership was becoming more egalitarian, with Chevrolet and Ford dominating the country’s roads on tyres no wider than four inches.
An innovator from the outset, Goodyear pioneered an All Weather Tread diamond pattern tyre that reached New Zealand shores in 1920. It was a ground-breaking product that helped establish a reputation for cutting-edge engineering that has since become the company’s hallmark.
Today Goodyear remains at the forefront of tyre technology, enabling safer, more efficient and more comfortable driving experiences.
“Currently in New Zealand we have nearly 400 different Goodyear tyres available to suit pretty much every budget, application and performance criteria you could imagine,” said Bill Prebble, head of technical, product and aviation for Goodyear Dunlop Tyres New Zealand. “From passenger cars and off-road vehicles to commercial and aviation, we know what it takes to get people moving.”
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Prebble has worked with Goodyear in New Zealand for more than 40 years, joining them not long after the parent company left tracks on the moon as part of the 1971 Apollo 15 lunar mission, and revolutionised its manufacturing model to focus on radial tyre production in 1974.
“I’ve certainly experienced a number of chapters in the history of the company,” said Prebble. “It has been both exciting and challenging and it continues to be a privilege to be a part of.”
Over 100 years, as the product continued to evolve, so did the shape of the industry and the Goodyear business in New Zealand.
Goodyear’s international reputation helped strengthen brand confidence in New Zealand, and by 1929 branches were opening around the country to meet customer demand.
During WW2, the company was forced to sell other manufacturer’s products due to tyres being classified as essential ‘war materials’ allocated by the government. Tyre shortage in that period led to a growth in re-treading.
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As part of Government initiatives to establish industry in New Zealand post the War, a plant was opened in Upper Hutt in 1949 to manufacture Goodyear tyres. The idea of New Zealand-made tyres for New Zealanders was proudly championed and production increased over the next 30 years as the country enjoyed a manufacturing boom.
In 1987, Goodyear NZ joined Dunlop NZ to form South Pacific Tyres NZ Ltd – an association that continues today under the name Goodyear & Dunlop Tyres (NZ).
Shortly after the turn of the century, the global landscape again changed the structure of the company. Manufacturing moved offshore in 2006. The company focused largely on distribution and retail channels until 2013, when it sold its retail network to local New Zealand businesses.
“To be in business that long, it’s essential to embrace and adapt to the changes that inevitably impact the industry and your customers,” said Prebble. “Today our focus is on promoting technology that significantly enhances driving in New Zealand and ensuring our customers have access to those cutting-edge products. One thing that certainly hasn’t changed is a commitment to innovation.”
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