Family-owned Kiwi heartland company, Waitomo Petroleum, will celebrate 70 years in business this June.
The company has grown to become one of the largest independent suppliers of petroleum products in New Zealand, and their success proves that small, hard-working companies that serve provincial communities can compete against corporate giants and flourish within the global oil industry.
Three generations of the Ormsby family have guided the business to where it stands today, offering competitive prices for trucking companies and motorists, and bulk fuel delivery to commercial clients, farmers, and boaties across the North Island.
Waitomo Petroleum managing director Jimmy Ormsby says his grandfather, Desmond Ormsby, started the business in Te Kuiti in June 1947.
“At the time Mobil Oil New Zealand was seeking to appoint an agent to distribute products in the King Country and my grandfather’s company, Waitomo Transport, was a credible operator who was also using Mobil products. A deal was done and the rest is history.”
Jimmy says his grandfather would be surprised and proud to see how far Waitomo Petroleum has come today.
“His last impression of Waitomo was that it was a company operating as an extension of Mobil Oil New Zealand, itself a tiny piece of the global oil company Mobil Oil Limited. He thought there was not a lot of future in the business for our family as a minority shareholder, and his advice to my father had been to get out of the business,” Jimmy explains.
However, following the $250 billion mega-merger of Exxon and Mobil in 1998, the family was invited to either sell their share, or buy Mobil’s shareholding in Waitomo. The family took the opportunity to buy out Mobil, and in 2002 Waitomo reverted back to being a family-owned company.
The company has built a significant customer base in Auckland, and across the Waikato and Bay of Plenty. It employs a team of 50, and in recent times has expanded its fuel stop network into Northland, Poverty Bay, Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki, and Manawatu-Wanganui. This expansion has raised the profile of Waitomo and it now has customers throughout the North Island.
“The Golden Triangle (Auckland/Hamilton/Tauranga) continues to experience significant economic growth and investment, so this is where we’ll continue to focus our attention,” Jimmy says. “Despite being a mature industry, the oil industry continues to change and develop, and this continues to present opportunities for growth for small but experienced players like Waitomo.”
He credits the company’s success over the past 70 years to competitive and sustainable pricing, a commitment to long-term business relationships, and maintaining high-quality equipment and systems so customers never feel let down.
“Our challenge is keep looking ahead and to position Waitomo to succeed in whatever environment it might have to operate in. We are fortunate to be here, and we are grateful to all the people that have contributed to Waitomo’s journey to this point.”