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The Winger Group & Suzuki: Celebrating the past and the future

Founded in 1932 in Hamilton by Norman Winger and Lionel Squire (who tragically died in WWII), ninety years in existence is certainly something for the Winger Group to celebrate. But unfortunately – like for many things – COVID-19 has hampered any big celebration plans by Wayne Leach and the Winger Group.

Suzuki’s partnership with Winger began in 1994 with their Hamilton dealership. Since that time the relationship has expanded to Greenlane, North Shore, and Pukekohe, making Winger the largest in the nationwide Suzuki dealer network. For this story, we celebrate their partnership with the Suzuki brand in New Zealand as an important contributor to their success.

It has been a relationship that has flourished over the past 27 years, evolving along the way – as the Suzuki brand also has – and delivering a series of wins for both parties. A big focus for both has been the fun aspect that the Suzuki brand brings.

The co-design and implementation of the Swift Sport Cup in 2007/08 was a great example of the win-win Winger/Suzuki partnership. This one-brand racing series was a first for New Zealand motorsport, initially running alongside, and then separate to, the New Zealand Production Championship. The Suzuki Swift Sport Super 1600 race-modified cars were initially sourced through Winger, and the series was run by Winger Hamilton Dealer Principal, Paul Burborough.

Swift Sport Race

“From the first race meeting with eight cars,” Paul says, “the level of excitement was so great it really helped sell Swift Sport as a model, and we also ended up selling all the race cars themselves! The climax was the Hamilton Street Race in 2014, with 22 cars on the road. It was a huge part of my life for 7 years, and epitomized the fun of the Suzuki brand”.

Paul remembers his early days, when Winger had just taken on the Suzuki franchise, and they were selling only 4-5 Suzuki vehicles per month. He says, “Back then, a five-door Vitara sold for $56,990! Today, you can purchase most new Suzuki models for around or under $30K – we now consistently sell around 130 Suzukis per month across the Winger Group as a result”.

The growth in popularity of Suzuki has been spectacular in the new vehicle market and has been a key factor in Winger’s own growth. In 2005, based on the sales potential of the brand new Swift, Winger placed the largest order they’ve ever made at a new car launch.

Suzuki’s sales growth was also a driving factor in Winger’s decision to move their central Hamilton premises from Anglesea Street to their current Te Rapa location – a move that would prove Winger a pioneer, as most other auto brands and dealerships soon followed and moved alongside them.

“The team at Suzuki New Zealand are a real pleasure to deal with. They are real people who share many of the same values as Winger. We love that the Suzuki brand is fun and affordable for most Kiwi motorists, and that we’re all about the same end goal – getting New Zealanders into the right car for them”.

Spot on, Paul! The team at Suzuki NZ couldn’t agree more, and we look forward to a bright future between the Winger Group as they steam ahead towards 100 years in business!