He Whānau Manaaki o Tararua Free Kindergarten Association Inc is a registered charity that manages 85 kindergartens with around 700 teachers. When renewing their fleet recently, they chose Suzuki Swift and S-Cross from Mexted Motors in Wellington. We spoke to CFO Brendon Fyfe-Gits about their decision making process: “When I started in 2010 the association already owned some older Swifts,” says Brendon, “13 more were purchased in 2013, another one in 2014, and two more in 2016. So we’ve been with Suzuki and Swift through a couple of model changes”.
While the association was happy with their Swifts and the service from Mexted Motors, the decision was made to look across all brands and do a fair comparison. “It was organised by our CEO and deputy CEO and was quite a thorough process” says Brendon. “We wanted to make a robust decision not just driven by price or an individual opinion. We had a range of staff do test-drives with a load of gear… everything down to wheel size was considered. Staying with Suzuki certainly wasn’t a foregone conclusion or a decision that was taken lightly.”
Some of the key concerns for the association in moving to new vehicles, were safety, engine size, and storage. “Some Wellington teachers travel regularly to kindergartens in the Wairarapa,” explains Brendon. “That means tackling the winding Rimutaka Hill which can be particularly treacherous in bad weather, so power and safety were big factors. Also, coordinators in local communities often have to transport passengers including children and need to fit large items like buggies. Our vehicles travel roughly 17,000km each year.”
A small car was the priority, “but we also needed a few larger vehicles,” says Brendon, “and we wanted them to be the same brand which narrowed it down. We looked at Toyota Yaris and Corolla, but Suzuki Swift and S-Cross won on every count – power, safety, fuel economy, luggage capacity, and warranty”. Brendon adds that overall, across the 18 vehicles, the association saved a significant amount of money – not just on the purchase price, but also on fuel.
“The new Swift is great,” enthuses Brendon. “We’re really impressed with the boot – it’s double the size of the older model! Our drivers preferred the styling, the interior trim felt more modern, and they loved improved features like the reversing camera – that’s a real bonus. Also, our vehicles are in a pool and there are drivers who swap in and out. So it’s good to have controls and things like Apple CarPlay consistent across the two models.”
According to Brendon, when it came to choosing a dealer the process was just as thorough. “We can’t afford to have cars off the road for a long time,” he says. “After-sales service – having a good relationship, is really important to us. We used to be based in Tawa which is why we initially chose Mexteds. We’re now in Porirua but the staff at Mexteds are just awesome, I would sing their praises to anyone. They’re so good to us. If a car’s in for servicing they provide a courtesy car or drop people home. They spend time with new drivers, hand the cars over properly… it’s all those little things – not just competitive pricing.”
“The new Suzuki’s look great – a real step up.” Brendon Fyfe-Gits, CFO Whānau Manaaki Kindergartens.