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PARTY POWER

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

PARTY POWER

The old Exide Batteries site at 149 Hutt Park Road was recently sold and Exide will vacate the historic premises on August 30, 2013. It is understood that the site will be redeveloped by the new owners.

As a final farewell to the Exide site that has housed the company for over 80 years, Exide held a reunion for all past.

Exide had manufactured, warehoused, and distributed automotive batteries from its Gracefield site that was strategically placed to service the local car manufacturing industry such as Ford in Seaview (now Placemakers), Chrysler/Todds/Mitsubishi in Porirua and Holden Trentham.

Andrew Duncan Director – Sales & Marketing, Marshall Power Australasia, whom himself held various roles in the past at the site says "The leading technology and reliability of the product remains but the premises is sadly going. We want to celebrate the team that has made Exide Batteries a leading battery range in New Zealand, we want to find and invite them to a reunion as a thank you for all the wonderful work over the many, many years."

The site at 149 Hutt Park Road was Head Office for Exide Batteries since approximately 1941.  The earliest photo the company owns has the inscription:  ‘Presented to the Management of Exide Batteries of NZ Ltd by the first Exide Social committee on the 15th July 1941’ 

Social Committee July 1941

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whether this group was employees and partners or only employees is unclear. There seems to be 50/50 split of men and women, but during the war many more women were employed. 

An aerial photo of the area taken prior to 1976 shows an empty site next door, where the Goulds Factory was built, which is now owned by Label & Litho. 

Behind the site are Ministry of Works buildings that have since been demolished.  Many of the residential houses shown in the photo are now industrial use. 

 

The company has operated under different names, depending on the owners over the decades, including Battery Makers of NZ Ltd, Chloride, GNB and Exide, and purchased other battery companies over the years such as Amalgamated Batteries, Vesta Batteries, Rokfire and others. Battery brands such as ABL Powerbreed, Exide and of course Marshall (Holler for a Marshall) are all part of the past and current stable.

The longest serving employee currently at Exide was employed in 1972, and he can recall that there were over 300 employees at that time with the factory then manufacturing over 400,000 car batteries per annum, many of which were exported to Australia. 

In October 2000 Exide Technologies Inc based in USA purchased the company from Pacific Dunlop, and the name changed from GNB to Exide Technologies Ltd.  At that time there were 185 employees in NZ, 38 at the Waione St site for battery recycling and 85 at the Hutt Park Rd site for battery manufacturing and Head Office. 

In the year 2000, the factory was manufacturing 900 batteries per day for the NZ market.  In September 2006 Exide ceased manufacturing at Hutt Park Rd site and the Exide factory in Adelaide, South Australia took over the manufacture of Exide batteries for NZ.

The management team of the Hutt Park Rd site in early 1984 are shown in the boardroom with the latest product offering with  Messers Cooksley (Sales Manager), Turner (Accountant),  Day  (Production) , Smith (CEO), Cosgrove (Company Secretary) and Toolan, (Manufacturing Manager).

In 1996 the company was then GNB, and had staff photos taken outside the Hutt Park Road and Waione St sites. 

Over the years, this iconic site & company has employed thousands of Wellingtonians, contributed millions to the local economy and has been awarded with many business and quality awards. Now in 2013, one of the strongest privately owned global battery companies purchased the business now called Marshall Power.

The  head office is now located at Auckland (Mt Wellington) with offices the breadth of the North and South Island including Whangarei, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington, Nelson and Christchurch and Exide will continue to provide New Zealand with a great start for many years to come. 
 

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