An End Of An Era In Underbool
Former Australian car maker Holden is investing a $150 million upgrade to its dealer network across Australia, and its Lang Lang Proving Ground facility in Victoria, in what the company says is a sign of its bright future in the local market.
The company has already started on its new look dealerships with those in Warrnambool, and in Brisbane the first to get the makeover. The changes include new internal and external signage, concierge services and an airport lounge style layout. Holden chairman and managing director Mark Bernhard said Holden was evolving to appeal to a broader audience. "The experience people have at Holden dealerships is a key part of repositioning the brand in the hearts and minds of today's Australians," he said.
However, in the small town of Underbool things aren't so positive, with Holden effectively removing their dealership with local garage AJ Gloster & Sons.
Holden and Glosters have been linked for over 90 years, the Underbool business first opened in 1925 by A. J. (Joe) Gloster and has operated as an independent Holden dealership and Service Centre since 1927.
Dealer Principal and Partner, Robert Gloster, was first notified from the automotive company after ‘a strategic review’ and told that their business no longer fitted the ‘network footprint’ which would effectively end their partnership from December 31 this year.
“We were shattered when we heard the news and we tried to insist on being a HSO (Holden Service Outlet) only, but they weren’t offering that option either,” Robert told the North West Express.
“We have been fighting to retain the franchise, citing geographical location that is, being a long way from major service centres as a prime reason why we should continue.
“Whilst it is a huge disappointment for us to lose what was an iconic franchise, life goes on – you just have to get on with it.”
Tracey from the North West Express spoke to Sarah about the issue on the Regional Roundup
Back in 2016, Wayne caught up with Ray Gloster from A.J Glosters & Sons Garage in Underbool for and overview on what the Garage and Ray has seen through the years. Here's what he wrote:
Underbool (Vic) is Gloster territory.
The local Holden Dealership has been an institution thanks largely to family patriarch Ray Gloster (pictured with Wayne the Flowman).
Ray still works the garage with his two sons Doug and Rob and grandsons Cameron and Frankie.
Rays dad Joe started the garage in 1925.
Ray was born in 1927 and began working with his dad in 1943 at the height of WW2.
That means he has 73 years of service at the same place.
And he still is the spare parts man! Ray has seen much in his time in the automotive industry.
From Chevs in the 20 to the 50's to Holden in 1948 to the EH Premier the HQ Kingswood, Torana, Commodore, Colorado and Captiva.
He has survived two wives and had his share of grief but nothing is more obvious than his desire to serve the customer.
Even today filling fuel tanks and giving driveway service like it was 1943.
All this from a bloke who hasn't retired because he doesn't need to and who would find the parts if he wasn't there! 89 years young and still servicing cars at Underbools Glosters.
Ray, you're a legend!