BP 2Go Oamaru has been fuelled by family.
Brothers Stephen and Chris Rawson have been running the Oamaru service station for 40 years, and this week, celebrated becoming the longest running BP franchisees in New Zealand.
They were ‘‘loud and proud’’ about their accomplishment, Chris said, sharing their success with his wife, Lorraine, and Stephen’s wife, Janice. The two couples were recognised at a Business South event on Monday.
‘‘It was pretty humbling, really,’’ Chris said.
In 1982, Stephen was working as an A-grade mechanic at the Hi-Way Auto Centre, at the BP station in Tees St where the St Vincent de Paul second-hand shop is now. The owner asked if Stephen would be interested in buying the station, and Chris, who was working at The National Bank, agreed to go into partnership with his brother.
When they bought it, Stephen was 28 and Chris was 23, and there were 22 different stations in Oamaru. Forty years later, there are just six.
Chris took care of the servicing side, learning to do oils and warrants of fitness, while Stephen was in the workshop.
In 1988, BP bought the Thames St station from Mobil, and leased it back to the community. The brothers took over in 1993, taking Hi-Way Auto Centre, now Hiway Autos, with them.
‘‘We could see the opportunity of coming out here,’’ Chris said.
Since then, the building has been through two rebuilds, and they went into partnership with Mike Corder, with the Hi-Way Auto Centre, before he bought them out, and closed the Thames St garage, in 2013.
Six of Chris and Stephen’s children have worked at the service station through the years, and the pair have employed many Oamaru school children.
‘‘The bit I like is watching everyone develop. It’s watching the high school kids and how they have to develop to talk to people — it’s communication,’’ Chris said.
There had been some major changes in the industry over the past 40 years, but one thing had stayed the same — the community support.
‘‘It’s the people you see all the time — it’s almost like a big family thing,’’ Chris laughed.
‘‘People come in and you have a bit of a yarn while you’re serving them, it’s not just take the money and thanks very much. Sometimes it’s a bit hard to get people out of the shop.’’
In return, the pair have given back to the community, sponsoring a lot of sport clubs and competitions, and they are both life members of the North Otago Rugby Supporters Club.
In the ’90s, Stephen used to dress up as BP Bear and visit Oamaru schools for the BP Technology Challenge, now known as BP Challenge.
They thanked all of their staff over the past 40 years, and Stephen said their wives had been the ‘‘biggest part of it’’.
Stephen enjoyed the challenges and rewards of being in business with his brother and the pair ‘‘bounced off each other’’ well.
‘‘We’ve had discussions that we didn’t agree with but we worked through them,’’ Stephen said.
‘‘We’re very proud of what we’ve got — it’s a community-based service.’’
They listed the station for sale in 2020, and Ralph Davies took over as manager in October last year.
‘‘We just pop in and out,’’ Chris said.